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.