Hoeven: Xcel Energy, FAA Partnership Demonstrates Business Opportunities Created by the UAS Test Sites

Senator Worked to Support the Joint Research between the Test Site, Xcel Energy and Others That Helped Lead to Today’s New Partnership

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today said Xcel Energy’s new partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) underscores how the Norther Plains UAS Test Site can generate new business opportunities in a variety of industries and applications, including energy, agriculture, defense and border security. The senator supportedthe joint research between the test site, Xcel Energy and others that helped lead to today’s new partnership.

Under this partnership, Xcel will deploy UAS to conduct power line inspections across large portions of North Dakota and will help the FAA develop guidelines for beyond line of sight UAS operations in other industries and in other parts of the country. This follows the first-in-the-nation certificate of authorization (COA) for the Northern Plains Test Site to conduct beyond line of sight UAS operations, which the FAA approved in December at Hoeven’s request.

“Xcel Energy’s partnership with the FAA is a great example of the economic opportunities created by the UAS test sites. The Northern Plains Test Site already received permission from the FAA to conduct beyond line of sight flights, and with the addition of Xcel’s activities, North Dakota continues to be at the cutting edge of efforts to integrate UAS into the national airspace and develop a wide range of valuable applications,” Hoeven said. “I want to congratulate Xcel and look forward to working with the company and the Northern Plains Test Site to lead the nation to full UAS integration.”

Hoeven sponsored and passed legislation in 2012 to create the six national test sites to advance UAS research and integration and made the case for North Dakota’s selection, which the FAA subsequently did, establishing the Northern Plains UAS Test Site. Since that time, Hoeven has worked to secure expanded operations for the test site and successfully included a provision in the recent FAA reauthorization bill to extend the test sites through September 2019.