Technology: Technology to keep lights on could help prevent wildfires - - PressFrom - US
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Technology Technology to keep lights on could help prevent wildfires

07:45  02 december  2019
07:45  02 december  2019 Source:   msn.com

Evacuations ordered as wildfire spreads in Bay Area town

  Evacuations ordered as wildfire spreads in Bay Area town MORAGA, Calif. (AP) — Police have ordered evacuations as a fast-moving wildfire spreads in the hills of a San Francisco Bay Area community. Moraga-Orinda firefighters responded to the scene near the St. Mary's College campus early Thursday. The school does not appear threatened at this time. Cal Fire says the flames consumed about 60 acres in little more than two hours. Moraga police ordered evacuations in the town's Sanders Ranch neighborhood.Moraga-Orinda firefighters responded to the scene near the St. Mary's College campus early Thursday. The school does not appear threatened at this time.

These New Technologies Could Help . Mike Montgomery Contributor. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own. Summer is coming, which means that California is bracing for the annual overlap of wildfire seasons, much too soon after the most expensive and destructive wildfire year on

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — B. Don Russell wasn’t thinking about preventing a wildfire when he developed a tool to detect power line problems before blackouts and bigger disasters.

FILE - In this Oct. 18, 2019, file photo, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, workers bury utility lines in Paradise, Calif. A new technology being tested by California utilities, such as Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and Southern California Edison, is aimed at diagnosing problems before they could cause power outages or spark wildfires. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File): FILE - In this Oct. 18, 2019, file photo, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, workers bury utility lines in Paradise, Calif. A new technology being tested by California utilities, such as Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and Southern California Edison, is aimed at diagnosing problems before they could cause power outages or spark wildfires. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)© Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this Oct. 18, 2019, file photo, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, workers bury utility lines in Paradise, Calif. A new technology being tested by California utilities, such as Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and Southern California Edison, is aimed at diagnosing problems before they could cause power outages or spark wildfires. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

The electrical engineering professor at Texas A&M University figured he might save a life if his creation could prevent someone from being electrocuted by a downed live wire.

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Wildfires are often preventable , because many originate from human error. How to prevent a wildfire . Contact 911, your local fire department, or the park Always take care when using and fueling lanterns, stoves, and heaters. Make sure lighting and heating devices are cool before refueling.

How to Stop Fires from Starting. If you live in a wildfire -prone area you should follow our tips on how to prepare for Consider wetting down the surrounding grass and other vegetation before lighting your fireworks. Of course, even if we could eliminate all human-ignited wildfires , the danger would still

But fire prevention may be his product’s biggest selling point in California and other places that have experienced devastating wildland blazes blamed on electrical equipment.

“If we can find things when they start to fail, if we can find things that are in the process of degrading before a catastrophic event occurs, such as a downed line that might electrocute someone or a fire starting or even an outage for their customers, that's kind of the Holy Grail,” Russell said.

The technology he bills as a one-of-a kind diagnostic tool called Distribution Fault Anticipation is now in use in Texas and being tested in California by Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and Southern California Edison. The utilities have been blamed for some of the most destructive and deadliest fires in California.

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Wildfires have moved from a seasonal event to a year-round occurrence. State law allows the utilities to cut power to customers whenever there is a risk to “Why do we need them if they don’t keep the lights on ?” The California Public Utilities Commission said it routinely conducted reviews after utilities

Considering the cost of California wildfires , this could be a cost-effective tool for Cal Fire . Considering the cost of California wildfires and the grim picture for the future, I believe this concept to be Sutter Health could keep nearby Alta Bates open but may ignore our plight, viewing Richmond

FILE - In this Oct. 31, 2019, file photo, a firefighter battles a wildfire known as the Maria Fire in Somis, Calif. A new technology being tested by California utilities, such as Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and Southern California Edison, is aimed at diagnosing problems before they could cause power outages or spark wildfires. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, Fire): FILE - In this Oct. 31, 2019, file photo, a firefighter battles a wildfire known as the Maria Fire in Somis, Calif. A new technology being tested by California utilities, such as Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and Southern California Edison, is aimed at diagnosing problems before they could cause power outages or spark wildfires. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, Fire)© Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this Oct. 31, 2019, file photo, a firefighter battles a wildfire known as the Maria Fire in Somis, Calif. A new technology being tested by California utilities, such as Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and Southern California Edison, is aimed at diagnosing problems before they could cause power outages or spark wildfires. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, Fire)

Texas A&M said the technology will also be tested in New Zealand and Australia, which is currently reeling from destructive wildfires.

The tool detects variations in electrical currents caused by deteriorating conditions or equipment and notifies utility operators so they can send a crew to fix the problems, Russell said.

It can anticipate many problems in their early stages — sometimes years before they cause an outage or present a greater hazard during high winds when utilities are now pre-emptively shutting off power to prevent sparking wildfires.

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Before the technology was developed, electric companies often didn’t know they had a problem until there was a failure or a customer called to report sparks on power lines or a loss of electricity.

“The assumption the utility has to make today is it's healthy until we get a call that says somebody's lights (are) out,” Russell said. “By then the fire's started or the outage has happened or the person's electrocuted.”

FILE - In this Oct. 31, 2019, file photo, smoke from a wildfire known as the Maria Fire billows above Santa Paula, Calif. A new technology being tested by California utilities is aimed at diagnosing problems before they could cause power outages or spark wildfires. The technology invented by Texas A&M University was designed to provide greater reliability for utility customers, but its biggest selling point could be its use in preventing disasters. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File): FILE - In this Oct. 31, 2019, file photo, smoke from a wildfire known as the Maria Fire billows above Santa Paula, Calif. A new technology being tested by California utilities is aimed at diagnosing problems before they could cause power outages or spark wildfires. The technology invented by Texas A&M University was designed to provide greater reliability for utility customers, but its biggest selling point could be its use in preventing disasters. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)© Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this Oct. 31, 2019, file photo, smoke from a wildfire known as the Maria Fire billows above Santa Paula, Calif. A new technology being tested by California utilities is aimed at diagnosing problems before they could cause power outages or spark wildfires. The technology invented by Texas A&M University was designed to provide greater reliability for utility customers, but its biggest selling point could be its use in preventing disasters. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)

Pedernales Electric Cooperative Inc. that serves about 330,000 customers outside San Antonio and Austin, Texas, began implementing the system after successful tests that began in 2015. The utility serves areas so rural that before the technology was installed, electricity powering a pump on a well could have been off for days before being detected by a farmer.

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A forest fire can be devastating for communities and the ecosystem. Keep these fire safety facts in mind and help prevent forest fires . In addition to learning how to prevent forests fires , it’s incredibly valuable to have the knowledge to survive a wildfire if you find yourself in dire circumstances.

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This undated photo provided by Texas A&M Engineering College shows Professor B. Don Russell. A new technology being tested by California utilities is aimed at diagnosing problems before they could cause power outages or spark wildfires. Russell, who invented the technology, said the software detects problems on power lines long before they occur and could be used to determine when to shut off electricity to prevent a fire from starting. (Texas A&M Engineering College via AP): This undated photo provided by Texas A&M Engineering College shows Professor B. Don Russell. A new technology being tested by California utilities is aimed at diagnosing problems before they could cause power outages or spark wildfires. Russell, who invented the technology, said the software detects problems on power lines long before they occur and could be used to determine when to shut off electricity to prevent a fire from starting. (Texas A&M Engineering College via AP)© Provided by Associated Press This undated photo provided by Texas A&M Engineering College shows Professor B. Don Russell. A new technology being tested by California utilities is aimed at diagnosing problems before they could cause power outages or spark wildfires. Russell, who invented the technology, said the software detects problems on power lines long before they occur and could be used to determine when to shut off electricity to prevent a fire from starting. (Texas A&M Engineering College via AP)

The devices installed at substations are now trouble-shooting all kinds of problems, said Robert Peterson, principal engineer for the utility.

“We’ve found tree branches on the line. Failing arrestors. Failing capacitors. Failing connections,” Peterson said. “It’s pretty amazing.”

In California, the testing process has just begun and there are no results yet, according to PG&E and SoCal Edison.

In Southern California, the software is running on just 60 of Edison’s 1,100 circuits in the utility’s high-risk fire zone, which accounts for about a quarter of its total circuits.

It’s just one of several tools the utility is testing to continue to modernize its system.

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Digital technology can play a major part in both preventing and fighting them. Scientists predict that fires are only going to get worse as we move Drones have additional uses in combatting wildfires . They can be fitted with both regular and thermal imaging cameras and can fly into areas that manned

How can wildfires be prevented in California? What can we do in the future to prevent or better fight wildfires ? I would say fallow all of your areas burning regulations, keep the fire small enough that you can easily manage it, have water put aside in case it starts to get out of control, make sure the

“There is no silver bullet,” said Bill Chiu, managing director of grid modernization and resiliency at SoCal Edison. “This is really more of a preventive measure. ... The important point is this will be one of the suite of technology that will help us better assess the condition of the grid.”

Chiu said the technology was not at the point where it could be used to determine where to shut off power when dangerous winds are forecast during dry conditions. He also said it won’t pinpoint problems but can help dispatch crews closer to the source of equipment that needs to be fixed, saving time that would be wasted patrolling miles of power lines.

One question is whether the technology is economically feasible to deploy across tens of thousands of miles of power lines, Chiu said.

At an expense estimated between $15,000 to $20,000 per circuit, it could cost the utility $22 million in its high-risk fire area and that doesn’t include installation, operation and maintenance costs.

That’s a fraction of what a moderate wildfire sparked by a utility could cost, Russell said.

PG&E, which is testing the technology on nine circuits, was driven into bankruptcy protection this year while facing at least $20 billion in losses from a series of deadly and destructive wildfires in 2017 and 2018.

SoCal Edison recently agreed to pay $360 million to local governments to settle lawsuits over deadly wildfires sparked by its equipment during the last two years. That figure doesn’t include lawsuits by thousands who lost their homes in those fires or family members of 21 people killed when a mudslide tore down a fire-scarred mountain. Two other people were never found.

Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative found the cost was feasible and has installed it on about a sixth of its circuits for the utility that has about 100,000 customers in Central Texas, said Eric Kocian, chief engineer and system operations officer.

While the system has helped proactively diagnose problems and detect the cause of outages, the university team that developed it can often find problems the utility’s control room operators don’t detect.

Pedernales Coop is working with an analytics company to streamline the analysis of the myriad information the software evaluates to find and fix problems in a day, Peterson said.

Russell said he never had a hint the device his research team created 15 years ago would have fire prevention applications until a series of bad wildfires in Texas in 2011. They were focused on keeping power systems safe and the lights on.

“It's obvious now in today's context of the drought that we've had in California and other places,” Russell said. “Serendipitously, that's where we find ourselves today.”

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