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Incipient Conditions on Electric Power Circuits

Incipient: adjective; beginning to develop or exist; beginning to come into being or to become apparent. (source: Merriam-Webster online)

A practical definition of an incipient condition on an electric power circuit is anything likely to cause a fault, outage, or other negative event in the future. A common misconception holds that incipient conditions manifest themselves only as low-amplitude electrical events, and conversely that high-amplitude electrical events do not represent incipient conditions. More than a decade of Distribution Fault Anticipation (DFA) field investigations demonstrates that this often is not true. Incipient conditions can manifest themselves as high-amplitude electrical events, although often in ways that conventional systems and processes fail to recognize as predictors of future events. Field experience demonstrates that an incipient condition may have any combination of the following characteristics:

  • It may or may not have caused past customer complaint(s).
  • It may or may not have caused past high-amplitude electrical event(s).
  • It may or may not have caused past conventional protection operation(s).
  • It may or may not have caused past outage(s).

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