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Improving Reliability and Safety of Electric Power Delivery Using DFA Technology

Summary

Line faults and device failures on distribution circuits can cause outages and unsafe conditions such as downed energized conductors. They also are a frequent cause of wildfires. Researchers with Texas A&M Engineering’s Power System Automation Laboratory have developed an advanced monitoring and diagnostic technology called Distribution Fault Anticipation (DFA). DFA provides 24/7 monitoring and automatic analysis of distribution circuit events. The result is enhanced situational awareness for operators, with automatic diagnosis of abnormal operations, detection of failing devices, and detection of incipient faults. Operating conditions that likely would result in catastrophic faults can often be detected, identified, located and repaired using actionable information. DFA technology has had extensive field testing and currently is in routine use by several utility companies, including Mid-South Synergy, an electric cooperative utility, headquartered in Navasota, Texas, USA. Mid-South has used DFA to discover, locate, and correct a significant number of line problems of which they otherwise were unaware. This paper provides a brief overview of the technology and then describes three such events that help illustrate specific benefits to reliability and to personnel and public safety. The purposes of the paper are to illustrate that current and voltage waveforms contain substantial untapped information regarding circuit conditions and to use one utility’s recent experiences to illustrate how using that information can improve reliability and safety.

Keywords

Incipient faults, failure prediction and diagnosis, operator situational awareness electric power reliability, public safety, wildfire/bushfire, power quality.

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