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Safety First When Flying Fun, Recreational Drones

As recreational drones become increasingly popular and many were likely given as Father’s Day gifts across California this past weekend, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is launching a new drone safety effort to urge its customers to keep safety in mind when they fly any drone near or around electric power lines and transmission towers.

As the popularity of gifting drones grows every year, so does the safety risk posed by recreational drones when they hit power lines. Recreational drones that contact overhead power lines can disrupt electric service to an entire neighborhood, cause significant property damage and potentially result in serious injuries if they lead to downed power lines. Earlier this month, about 1,600 PG&E customers in the Mountain View area were without power for nearly two hours due to a drone that collided with a power line. The possible safety risks to families and the community posed by drones grows during popular gift-giving days.

“Flying a drone has become a popular hobby for fathers and families, but safety can’t be ignored. While we want our customers and their families to have fun, we want to provide some basic safety rules to ensure that a fun hobby doesn’t become a hazard that endangers them, their loved ones or the community,” said Pat Hogan, senior vice president, PG&E Electric Operations.

Those safety tips include:

Drone owners should practice flying away from people, vehicles, houses and trees; never fly a drone near power lines, power poles and other electric equipment; keep your drone in sight to make sure you’re aware of any potential hazards.

Don’t fly in bad weather conditions, such as high winds, fog or rain; stay clear of any aircraft, such as low-flying airplanes and helicopters; learn how to fly your drone via an online course or by becoming a certified drone pilot; do not attempt to retrieve a drone that becomes entangled in power lines or a transmission tower.

If your drone hits PG&E electric equipment, causing power lines to fall or equipment to spark, call 911 and then PG&E at 1-800-743-5000.

Drones, also known as an Unmanned Aircraft System, or UAS, are quickly becoming an essential tool for industry, including energy companies such as PG&E. In July, PG&E announced that it has received permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to begin testing drones to inspect its electric, gas and hydropower facilities. The company sees the tool as a way to improve safety and affordability. PG&E’s drone operators or contractors are fully licensed and practice good safety behaviors.