Westar Energy, the largest electric company in Kansas, has partnered with Kansas State University to use drones to inspect its equipment and power lines. Westar received its Section 333 Exemption from the FAA to operate drones in the beginning of 2016. The drones save Westar money compared to manned aircraft and provide less risk to Westar employees.
Westar is using drones to do dangerous jobs like inspecting boilers and examining electric transmission lines. While Westar is flying the drones within line-of-sight per FAA regulations, they are already seeing the benefits because drones can more quickly detect issues with power lines in rural areas.
This is yet another example of utility/energy company making use of the fact that drones often can make inspection and monitoring jobs safer and more efficient.