While distribution and transmission network inspection has largely been a manual process, electric utilities are using sensor technology to attain improved levels of speed and accuracy.
FREMONT, CA: Power delivery systems are among the largest and most diverse, remotely located investments. There are several challenges that electric utilities face with their transmission line and distribution assets. The industry is in its effort to deploy sensor technologies and the associated innovations needed to aid electric utilities in addressing challenges related to transmission and distribution.
The implementation of sensors in the transmission line and distribution networks will allow for the monitoring and communication of equipment conditions continuously. Knowing that a transmission line or distribution asset is in the risk of failure will allow actions to be taken to address the safety of both utility personnel and staff. For instance, with sensor-based monitoring, the internal discharge activity of transformers could be detected and communicated, allowing barriers to be put in place to reduce the risk for the personnel until maintenance action is taken.
Improved knowledge of transmission and distribution equipment conditions and stresses that they are subjected to will allow asset managers to manage the distribution network better. Sensor data can be used with performance information, failure database, and operational data to allocate resources better. The rating of transmission components is influenced by several factors, including weather conditions, loading history, and component configuration. To address this complexity, sensors can be used, and utilities can gain real-time knowledge of the component condition.
After an event takes place, investigating teams often have less information to understand the root cause. This limits the ability to address similar situations or to improve strategies. But sensor deployment in transmission and distribution networks could provide the information needed to identify the root cause and even help understand the patterns so that the strategy can be modified to prevent future occurrences.
By quickly identifying potential problems, electric utilities can address areas in transmission and distribution where safety concerns are most imperative, and the infrastructure could be at risk otherwise. These proactive initiatives will allow utilities to successfully kick start numerous efforts to improve the resiliency and reliability of their distribution and transmission networks.