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Incipient Faults: Can They Be Seen?

Real-time waveform analytics identify looming failures, bringing us into the realm of distribution fault anticipation technology

A thousand customers just lost power because a bush- ing failed out on a feeder. Did it just happen or were Athere early warning signs? Could the failure have been predicted in advance or, better yet, prevent- ed? Pickwick Electric Cooperative (PEC) and Arizona Public Service (APS) have been working with a new technology that enables them, for the fi rst time, to avoid faults by detecting incipient problems and responding proactively.

The new technology, known as distribution fault anticipation (DFA) technology, works by measuring high-fidelity current transformer (CT) and potential transformer (PT) waveforms, typically at the substation, and applying sophisticated analytics to those waveforms. It detects failures, incipient failures and other misoperations out on the feeder, thus providing situational intelligence and enabling feeder-level condition-based maintenance. It does so without complicated setup and without requiring communication with downstream line devices.

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.

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Source: 'Transmission & Distribution World' March 2015

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