Bushfire Prevention

Fault Anticipation Improves Operations

Written by B. Don Russell, Carl L. Benner, Robert A. Peterson

Pedernales Electric Cooperative is improving the reliability and safety of its distribution system and reducing wildfire risk.

Distribution utilities operate miles and miles of lines to serve large service territories. Knowing what is happening on those lines presents a real challenge. Pedernales Electric Cooperative and other utilities are improving the reliability and safety of their electric power distribution systems, using technology developed by Texas A&M University’s College of Engineering. Known as distribution fault anticipation (DFA), the technology helps utilities to manage their systems better by giving them more awareness of what is happening on them.

Pedernales first began testing DFA in 2015, as part of a demonstration project known as the Texas Power Line-Caused Wildfire Mitigation project, supported by the Texas state legislature. As one of seven Texas utilities to participate in the project, Pedernales installed DFA monitoring on 11 distribution circuits. Pedernales and the other participants have used DFA to detect multiple line issues that otherwise could have started fires. Enhanced situational awareness increases crew efficiency and enables corrective actions that inherently improve service quality as well as reliability. Based on successful trials, Pedernales and several other utility companies have begun expanding their deployments of DFA, integrating DFA into their work flows and making DFA information available in their control centers.

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