Distribution utilities operate miles and miles of lines to serve large service territories. Knowing what is happening on those lines presents a real challenge. Pedernales Electric Cooperative and other utilities are improving the reliability and safety of their electric power distribution systems, using technology developed by Texas A&M University's College of Engineering ...
"Advanced computer algorithms can detect incipient problems with the grid from voltage and current variations. Or they can help monitor and control the grid more rapidly, accurately, and flexibly in the face of increasing complexity and uncertainty. A special case of this approach known as distribution fault anticipation (DFA) is being pioneered at Texas A&M University. Incipient faults can be detected and prevented. The traditional ‘run to fail’ mode for transmission and distribution can now be anticipated and avoid preventative maintenance to avoid failure and consequent interruptions of service. This can mean a dramatic improvement in the reliability, safety, security, and efficiency of the grid."
"A thousand customers just lost power because a bushing failed out on a feeder. Did it just happen or were there early warning signs? Could the failure have been predicted in advance or, better yet, prevented? Pickwick Electric Cooperative (PEC) and Arizona Public Service (APS) have been working with a new technology that enables them, for the first time, to avoid faults by detecting incipient problems and responding proactively.
Waveform-based analytics represent a new paradigm in distribution system operations and health monitoring. Utilities historically have had little situational intelligence regarding the health of their distribution systems. Modern smart components such as advanced metering infrastructure and distribution automation systems may provide feeder loading levels or let the utility determine whether particular customers have service, but they do little, if anything, to detect feeder anomalies or assess line health."
Fault Anticipation Technology Evaluated for Preventing Wildfires (Austin American Statesman, January 2013):
"The monitoring systems currently available to most utilities “are basically designed to respond after a major fault has occurred,” said Russell. Those faults, which can be caused when trees fall on power lines or high winds blow the lines together, can cause fires. The system that Russell has designed, called “distribution fault anticipation technology,” can predict failures, he said.
John Bowers, the Vice President of Pickwick Electric Cooperative, which serves a rural area about 100 miles east of Memphis, Tenn., said the cooperative has been testing Russell’s system since 2002.
'We’ve been able to demonstrate that it can prevent outages,” he said. “People are interested in this, and it’s just a matter of time before it will be something that everybody has.'"