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Papers on the Use of DFA Technology to Mitigate Bushfire Risk

In the Line of Fire

Energy Source and Distribution Magazine | March/April 2017

Strategies for tackling bushfire risks before system failures occur.

It has the ability to identify power system equipment which is beginning to break down, often long enough before it reaches the stage of a full-blown fault event to allow a measured response by the asset owner.

Download Article [6.35MB PDF] ...

Application of Advanced Electrical Waveform Monitoring and Analytics for Reduction of Wildfire Risk

Abstract

Modern power distribution systems enjoy excellent reliability, but lines and apparatus do fail, sometimes catastrophically. Failing apparatus often create arcing and/or heating capable of igniting proximate combustible material.

Power lines are known to cause many brush fires and wildfires, which result in substantial property damage and sometimes loss of life. Common ignition sources include arcing downed conductors, vegetation contacting conductors, sparks ejected from clashing conductors, or failing apparatus arcing and/or dropping burning products on the ground. To the extent that such failures can be detected and repaired quickly, many wildfires can be prevented or minimized.

Smart-grid efforts typically focus on hastening restoration following an outage. These systems provide value, but they do not detect incipient failures and temporary faults that not only cause customer interruptions and outages, but also more serious damage including wildfires. Texas A&M University has developed sophisticated waveform analytics to detect feeder events, including faults and incipient feeder conditions that, if not addressed,  may escalate to ignite wildfires. The basic concept underlying the application of these waveform analytics is described. Case studies provide concrete examples of the ability to detect, locate, and repair failing devices before they create ignition sources capable  of causing wildfires.

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Wildfire Mitigation Through Advanced Monitoring – State of Texas Demonstration Project

Summary

The State of Texas has experienced over 4,000 power line caused wildfires in the past four years, including a major fire event in 2011 which resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in property loss. Particularly in drought prone areas, power line ignition of wildfires poses a serious risk to safety and property for citizens, as well as a major potential liability for utilities.

Over two decades of field research, Texas A&M University has developed multiple advanced power line monitoring technologies which have the potential to detect electrical activity which can lead to wildfire ignition, notifying emergency crews of potential ignition events faster than conventional means. Additionally, advanced monitoring can, in many cases, give utilities notice of recurrent problems which pose an ongoing risk of wildfire ignition, enabling them to take corrective action.

The State of Texas Legislature, recognizing the potential public benefit, has funded a two year study to evaluate the effectiveness of advanced power line monitoring for wildfire risk  mitigation. This paper describes the project methodology and goals. Preliminary results are expected to be available for publication next year.

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Reducing Wildfire Risk through the Use of Advanced Electrical Waveform Monitoring and Analytics

Summary

Despite the excellent reliability of electric power distribution systems, lines and apparatus do fail, sometimes catastrophically. Common failure modes often create arcing and/or heating capable of igniting combustible material.

It is well known that powerlines start many brush fires and wildfires which cause substantial property damage and sometimes loss of life. Common ignition sources include arcing downed lines, vegetation contacting lines, sparks ejected from clashing lines, or failing apparatus arcing and/or dropping burning products to the ground. To the extent that such failures can be detected and repaired quickly, many wildfires can be prevented or minimized.
Smart grid efforts typically focus on hastening restoration following an outage. These systems provide value, but they do not detect incipient failures and temporary faults that not only cause customer interruptions and outages, but also more serious damage including wildfires.

Texas A&M University has developed sophisticated analytics that use waveforms from conventional CTs and PTs to detect feeder events, including faults and incipient feeder conditions that, if not addressed, may escalate and start wildfires. The basic concept underlying the application of these waveform analytics, which have become known as distribution fault anticipation (DFA) technology, is described. Case studies provide concrete examples of the ability to detect, locate, and repair failing devices before they create ignition sources capable of causing wildfires.

Download ...

Distribution Feeder Caused Wildfires: Mechanisms and Prevention

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX 77843-3128

Abstract

Drought conditions in the United States in recent years bring increased attention to the age-old issue of power line-caused fires. It has long been known that power line faults and failures can cause wildfires through multiple mechanisms. Failure mechanisms of various apparatus and operational conditions that result in wildfire ignition are reviewed. Case studies of faults and failures from operating utility systems are presented, along with a discussion of how these faults and failures represent competent sources of ignition for wildfires. Methods of preventing power line-caused wildfires are discussed.

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