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.