New power line safety technology holds promise for reducing wildfire ignitions

Recent research on electrical power line problems may help prevent wildfire ignitions. B. Don Russell, Ph.D.,  an electrical engineering professor at Texas A&M, and his research team have created a tool that helps keep linemen safe and also ensures that power outages do not occur. According to Digital Journal, this newly developed diagnostic tool, called Distribution Fault Anticipation, was designed to detect power line problems to help prevent electrocutions as a result of these power line failures.  The tool has been designed to check power lines for potential issues that could result in power line degradation and the loss of power to consumers as well.

With the recent devastating wildfires in California and elsewhere that have been attributed to power line problems, this tool has been thought to potentially help with wildfire-related ignitions. If power line problems can be detected by this new tool before they occur, the possibility, therefore, should exist that you can reduce the ignition of wildfires related to power line equipment failures.

Yet another use for this tool is to identify at-risk sections of the power grid in real-time and focus efforts to repair those problem areas quickly instead of waiting for the power line to fail and then repairing it.  This may help prevent massive electrical power shutdowns during red flag weather warnings to prevent wildfire ignitions that have also caused suffering to many residents.  Referred to in some instances as public safety power shutdowns, these actions create additional challenges for first responders as well as essential facilities like hospitals to continue to provide a high level of service.  This new diagnostic tool could have a twofold purpose: first, to help power companies improve the overall safety and reliability of their power systems and second, to minimize wildfire ignitions and public safety power shutdowns during red flag warnings.

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