Texas Power Line-Caused Wildfire Mitigation Project Meeting Features DFA Technology

15 April 2016

A recent meeting of six utility companies participating in the Texas Power Line-Caused Wildfire Mitigation Project detailed multiple cases where Distribution Fault Anticipation (DFA) technology alerted utility companies to line conditions that represented future reliability problems and fire risks.

Held 11 April 2016 in Bastrop, Texas, the meeting included representatives from Austin Energy, Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative, Mid-South Synergy, Pedernales Electric Cooperative, Sam Houston Electric Cooperative, and United Cooperative Services. The meeting took place as part of an ongoing effort, supported by the Texas State Legislature, partnering utilities in conjunction with state agencies including Texas A&M Engineering and the Texas A&M Forest Service, to explore how advanced monitoring of power lines can help utilities reduce wildfire risk. Participating utility companies have instrumented more than fifty distribution circuits with DFA devices provided by Power Solutions, Inc. At the time of the meeting, participants had had an average of three to six months of experience with DFA installed on their circuits.

Utility companies shared their successes with DFA and expressed enthusiasm about using the technology to reduce wildfire risk and also to improve reliability and power quality. Cited examples included detection and location of failing line hardware, such as a lightning arrester and a load-tap changer, and also vegetation growing into lines. If not corrected, these conditions would have created reliability problems for utility customers and also represented a wildfire risk. The cited conditions were not known to the utilities, except from DFA, and would not have been detected by conventional utility practices or "smart grid" solutions. In each case, DFA technology provided the only actionable information to alert the utility company to the existence of the problem and also helped the utility locate the underlying problem.

Utility participants will continue to use DFA technology and document the benefits it provides to service reliability and to wildfire risk mitigation. Future meetings are expected to be held approximately twice per year.

Innovative Powerline Monitoring Technology Assisting with Wildfire Mitigation

16 February 2016

Texas-based technology company, Power Solutions Inc, reports that it has shipped more than 50 of its unique ‘DFA’ distribution line monitors to participants in a State Government of Texassponsored wildfire mitigation project. The initiative is designed to demonstrate the potential contribution of the innovative DFA technology to assess and warn proactively of line problems that otherwise might initiate wildfires.

DFA (Distribution Fault Anticipation) technology has been developed over the past 20 years by Texas A & M Engineering and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and is now being commercialized and marketed exclusively by Power Solutions Inc. Substation-installed DFA devices monitor three-phase circuits via standard current and voltage transformers. Patented pattern matching technology allows real-time warnings of a wide range of circuit abnormalities, communicated via the Internet.

Companies participating in the Texas wildfire mitigation project include: Mid-South Synergy; Bluebonnet Electric; Pedernales Electric Cooperative (the largest electric cooperative in the United States); Sam Houston Electric Cooperative; United Cooperative Services; and Austin Energy.

“Texas A&M and the PSI team have conducted some of the leading studies of powerlineinduced wildfire starts in the world and have developed DFA technology, plus a companion line-down detection technology, making DFA a logical and unique choice for such an application,” commented Power Solutions President, Dr B. Don Russell.

With the problem of wildfires being an issue over much of North America, a workshop, cohosted by Texas A & M Engineering and EPRI, was convened on November 18, 2015. DFA technology and its contributions to the wildfire mitigation issue were showcased to multiple federal agencies, power distribution utilities from across the USA, particularly western USA states, and other stakeholders.

Dr Russell was upbeat about the success of the project to date and wider interest shown both nationally and internationally. “PSI considers the potential role and contribution of DFA technology in the wildfire application, as well as greatly enhanced powerline asset management, to be very significant. Our initiatives and interest in the USA are being matched by strong inquiries from Australia, where wildfires are of great concern, and we are working actively to deploy pilot projects there.”