• SSVEC will be using drones to conduct inspections
  • You may see the drones flying throughout Cochise County
  • What are the drones will be used for

It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's a...Drone?

Keep your eyes to the skies throughout the month of January. Residents throughout Cochise County may see increased drone activity as Sulpher Springs Valley Electric Cooperative (SSVEC) begins using drones to conduct inspections all over their service area.

Drones in the skies over Cochise County flown by Sulfur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative in Arizona
From high over Sierra Vista, looking toward Highway 92. // Photo by Val Davidson // TSM
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What the SSVEC Drones Will be Doing in Cochise County

Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative will have drones flying all around Cochise County.

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SSVEC has contracted with FirmaTek from San Antonio, Texas, a national leader in drone inspection services for electric utilities. SSVEC made arrangements with FirmaTek to conduct this inspection beginning January 8, 2024.

Drones in the skies over Cochise County flown by Sulfur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative in Arizona
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During the service period, more than 8,250 utility poles spread throughout over 5,000 square miles of the SSVEC service area will be inspected. The inspections will be conducted using thermal imaging to identify potential infrastructure issues and wildfire hazards.

Drones in the skies over Cochise County flown by Sulfur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative in Arizona
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When Drone Inspections Will Be Conducted in Cochise County

The inspection period is scheduled to begin Monday, January 8, and will continue over 10 days to complete the process. The drones will help SSVEC identify potential hazards and infrastructure issues.

Drones in the skies over Cochise County flown by Sulfur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative in Arizona
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Once identified, SSVEC will be able to take the next steps to initiate preventative maintenance steps. Sulpher Springs Valley Electric Cooperative is always working to provide the best service and reliability for its members, and this will assist in meeting that goal.

This process will also help to significantly reduce the possibility of wildfire ignition. Nathan Hodges, Vice President of Operations at SSVEC said, “Bottom Line, we want to be proactive, and this program allows SSVEC to identify issues before they occur.”

Meet the FirmaTek Drones [Virtually, of Course!]

FirmaTek will be deploying American-made Skydio drones. All FirmaTek drone pilots are certified by the Federal Aviation Administration and have thousands of hours of mission experience.

Drones in the skies over Cochise County flown by Sulfur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative in Arizona
Photo via Sulpher Springs Valley Electric Cooperative Facebook Page.
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SSVEC has also contracted with FirmaTek to inspect high-voltage pole, which are known as Transmission and Distribution poles.

This infrastructure typically handles 69,000 volts of electricity, which is among the largest volume on the SSVEC grid.

What to Do if You See a Drone

Enjoy the sight! These drones are working to improve service for everyone throughout Cochise County. Get excited that you were lucky enough to spot one, but let it do its work.

Drones in the skies over Cochise County flown by Sulfur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative in Arizona
Photo of the Huachuca Mountains courtesy Val Davidson // TSM. Drone image via Canva.
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Learn More About the SSVEC Drones

For more information about this and other Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative programs, follow the SSVEC Facebook page.

Thanks to Grady Butler, Cochise County Sheriff's Office PIO for the information supplied in this article.

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