Arizona, California, and Nevada Are Frontrunners for Autonomous Vehicles

By 2020, the buzz is that 10 million “driverless” or “autonomous” vehicles will be on our nation’s roads. Nevada, Arizona, and California are three states that have made “self-driving technology” a priority. Indeed, these states are frontrunners for completely autonomous vehicles. Lawmakers across the country have been battling over whether driverless cars are (or can …

FAA Releases Final Drone Rules Clearing the Way for Expanded Utility and Energy Company Uses

In what might be considered record-setting time for a major federal rulemaking, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has released the final rules under Part 107 of the Federal Aviation Regulations governing the Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) for commercial purposes. For operations that can be performed within the parameters of Part 107, …

FAA Changes to Section 333 Exemption Conditions Create New Opportunities for Utilities and Energy Companies

While the FAA has not announced a formal policy change with regard to the commercial operation of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS), a review of recently approved Section 333 Exemptions indicates changes to the conditions and limitations included in most of the nearly 4,000 exemptions granted so far.  These changes may create new opportunities for …

New Rulemaking Committee Could Expand Drone Uses for Utilities and Other Industries

On February 24, 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration announced the establishment of a new Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) to develop performance-based recommended standards and requirements for the operation of micro unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in the National Airspace System.  As previously defined in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for the Operation and Certification of …

Energy Companies and Utilities Are Well Advised to Engage in Drone Privacy Discussions

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reports that, as of July 9, 2015, it has granted 746 Petitions for Exemption under Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 authorizing commercial operations with small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).  These Exemptions have been granted to a variety of users in industries ranging from agriculture …

Approved Drone Use Grows Among Electric Utilities

On May 11, 2015, Xcel Energy became the latest electric utility to obtain an exemption under Section 333 of the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act authorizing the company to conduct commercial small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS) operations. The exemption was issued exactly 90 days after the utility’s original petition which reflects the FAA’s continued …

FAA Drone Use Exemptions Break the 100 Mark

With the latest round of approvals, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted over 100 Section 333 Exemptions allowing businesses to begin using small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for a variety of purposes.  The 29 exemptions most recently granted bring the total number of exemptions to 128 and include companies that will use UAS for …

Energy Companies’ Interest in Drones Gains Momentum as FAA Reacts to Comments on Proposed Small UAS Rules

On March 24, 2015, NextEra Energy became the latest energy company granted a Section 333 Exemption by the Federal Aviation Administration.  NextEra Energy, whose subsidiaries Florida Power & Light and NextEra Energy Resources have a combined generating capacity of more than 42,000 MW and more than 70,000 miles of power lines, will be permitted to …