SCE started its drone program in 2019 and said crews have been able to reduce the risk of a wildfire by 75% to 80%.
MOUNT BALDY, Calif. (KABC) -- The recent Atmospheric Rivers that brought so much rain to Southern California have turned the mountains and hillsides into lush verdant greenery, but when those Santa Ana winds start blowing, it could become a wildfire threat.
That's why Southern California Edison is being proactive by inspecting its power lines in those high risk fire areas.
In 2018, fire investigators found SCE was at fault for the Woolsey Fire that tore through parts of Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
SCE started its drone program in 2019 and said crews have been able to reduce the risk of a wildfire by 75% to 80%. It uses its drones to inspect power poles and power lines.
"We are looking for broken insulators or cotter keys and pins, those are the things that hold our hardware in place," said SCE Director of Inspections Kathy Hidalgo. "We're looking for anything that may damage or spark an ignition so we can send our drones into areas that we might not want to send our crews into, some pretty hazardous areas, some remote areas."
SCE also changed the overhead electric conductor on the power poles itself with coated wire to protect it from their biggest concern: a foreign object encountering a live power line.
"Think of balloons, think of animals or vegetation. It has three layers and its sturdy so when thing come into contact, it doesn't cause any faults or ignitions," said SCE Director of Transmission Raj Roy.
SCE said even after all the rain this winter and spring, there is still a wildfire risk with new vegetation that could catch fire as the weather dries out.
"Once the vegetation dries out, which will likely be by late summer and into the fall, but when our Santa Ana winds return, that's when we're going to be really concerned about all this extra vegetation," said SCE fire scientist Tom Rolinski.