With better data, utilities can fix power lines before they fail

The days in which utility companies had to wait for a power line to fail before sending out a repair crew are numbered.

Increasingly, real-time monitoring and smarter networks are making it possible for power companies to identify and locate faults as soon as — or even before — they happen.

“With increasing demands on the distribution network and the emergence of distributed generation technologies and electric vehicles, increasing the information available in an economical manner is the key to enabling greater improvements in distribution reliability and efficiency,” said Juan Macias, general manager of grid automation for GE Energy Management’s digital energy business.

GE’s new overhead line monitoring system, for example, lets distribution utilities identify faulted or soon-to-be-faulted circuits. It also dynamically rates feeder lines to ensure maximum power throughput and watch for safety issues such as increased sag.

Using the system’s analytics, utilities can dispatch crews more quickly and effectively during network disturbances.

“An intelligent line monitoring system gives you a reliable starting point for locating and sectionalizing faults,” said Martin Hand, operations policy and safety engineer for Ireland’s ESB Networks. “This improves supply continuity and enhances public safety by precise dispatching of the fault response crew.”

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