ST. LOUIS – Ameren’s drone team is out in the St. Louis Metro area looking for power lines and poles that need to be repaired.

A recent tornado in Iron County brought in help from across the region, including Ameren’s drone team to collect real-time information to help restore power to the town of Annapolis. 

“(The drone is) getting eyes on the scene before crews are there in order to provide them information so that they can get in and make those repairs,” James Pierce, supervisor at UAS and Inspections, said.

A broken power pole during a storm in April 2019 is another example of how drones come in handy. 

“Pole is broken in half, hanging upside down (with) transformers and everything and it is still operational,” Pierce said. “We were able to put eyes on that, get that data to those crews while they’re in the area. They can get there (and) get that repaired in short order and customers were not inconvenienced.”

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The drone teams are cutting down on times for repair crews doing preventative work too, according to Pierce. 

“Crews had to go out and walk lines, drive lines; they had to get bucket trucks up to get close eyes on issues in areas where there may not even be an issue but they thought they saw something from the ground,” he said.

Residents can expect to see teams in their neighborhood working from sunrise to sunset every day.

“You know a lot of wooden systems exist; wood ages. We had pole rot, rotting cross arms, we have bolts that have slipped out. All those things that could eventually cause an outage,” Pierce said.