Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories
New wildfire mitigation solution cuts power to broken electric lines before they hit the ground
PULLMAN, Washington—Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL) and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) have partnered to develop and implement a falling conductor solution designed to locate and de-energize a broken power conductor before it touches the ground, decreasing wildfire risks and improving public and environmental safety.This falling conductor protection solution uses synchronized data streamed from devices throughout the distribution power system, such as protective relays, recloser controllers, and meters. Patented algorithms in the SEL Real-Time Automation Controller (RTAC) continuously analyze the synchrophasor data for voltage abnormalities. When a broken power conductor is detected, the RTAC sends a trip command to the devices nearest the break to isolate and de-energize that section of the circuit. All of this happens within a few hundred milliseconds, while the falling conductor is still midair. “With this new technology, electric utilities will be able to mitigate wildfire risk better than ever before,” said SEL CEO Dave Whitehead. “We’re thankful to SDG&E for their partnership and are excited to see how this innovation will enhance public and environmental safety.”
SDG&E has conducted successful field testing for this solution on ten circuits and plans to implement this protection within its high-fire-threat district by 2026.“All of the field testing has been very successful for each circuit, and we look forward to the anticipated successes from real-world implementation,” said Chris Bolton, the manager of System Protection Automation and Control Engineering at SDG&E. “This advanced technology will help SDG&E reduce the chances of a utility-related wildfire in the areas at higher risk.”To learn more, visit https://discover.selinc.com/fcp .