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2024 Goals: Wildfire Risk Reduction, Continuing Education, and R&D Funding

At Prescient, our goal is to work with electric utilities to integrate next generation concepts into grid design and operating practices. As a new year begins, I like to take some time to reflect on my professional goals, as well as my goals for my company, Prescient Transmission Systems, over the next twelve months.

My top three goals for 2024 include:

  1. Preparing wildfire risk assessments for electric utilities, especially in areas where wildfire risk has previously been overlooked.

  2. Providing continuing education coursework for electric utility professionals.

  3. Obtaining funding for a variety of research and development projects that would enhance today’s energy grid as we advance to the next generation.

Follow along to take a closer look at each of these goals.

Happy new year sign on dark wood with greens.

Goal #1 - Wildfire Risk Reduction

To reduce the risk of wildfires ignited by power lines, I would like Prescient to prepare wildfire risk assessments for more electric utilities in 2024. This is especially vital in areas where wildfire risk has previously been overlooked, such as the Midwest and East Coast.

Although wildfire risks are different in every state, certain risk factors exist across the board, such as fault clearing times and days without rain. By considering these and other risk factors, the risk of extreme wildfires can be calculated, and electric utilities can implement prudent enhancements to their lines to reduce the risk.

At Prescient, we understand the parameters that affect the ignition of vegetation. We have numerous recommendations to help electric utilities significantly decrease their wildfire risk. In 2024, we aim to share our expertise across the electric utility industry.

Goal #2 - Continuing Education for Electric Utility Professionals

Professional development is a lifelong activity. I have over 25 years’ experience providing continuing education courses to industry professionals. I have designed numerous courses on everything from substation drawings and applications to protective relay systems and equipment aging.

In 2024, I would like to share my expertise with electric utility professionals by providing continuing education coursework that focuses on the inevitable, systemic shifts that will be required given our changing climate and changing energy goals. My goal is to create opportunities for professionals to become familiar with a variety of topics, both within and outside their areas of expertise.

For example, relay engineers should have the opportunity gain an in depth understanding of the impact of aging on material properties. Distribution engineers should have the opportunity to benefit from an understanding of distributed energy production facilities.

Prescient offers coursework on these and myriad other topics. Our coursework can be tailored to the needs of each utility, or offered through the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, for continuing education credit.

Goal #3 - Obtain Funding for Research & Development

At Prescient, our staff has a wealth of ideas for innovative devices and operating practices that will enhance today’s grid to the next generation. My goal is to obtain funding for many of these research and development projects, including:

1. Creating FIDVR Models.

Fault Induced Delayed Voltage Recovery (FIDVR) is the term used to describe reacceleration of motors driving high torque loads after three phase faults are cleared. The concern is that although faults are cleared in 100 milliseconds, 1200 RPM motors driving high torque loads stall when voltage drops to less than 70% for 100 milliseconds. Creating FIDVR models will allow electric utilities to understand the risks they face.

Solenoid Series Reactors will rapidly increase fault impedance to enable rapid voltage recovery. Microprocessor controlled solenoid series reactors can reduce the duration of voltage dips from 100 milliseconds to 20 milliseconds. This eliminates the possibility of FIDVR events and strengthens the stability of the energy grid.

3. Developing distribution line voltage compensators.

Voltage compensators are microprocessor-based VAR compensators that inject vars or extract vars as needed to maintain distribution line voltage within 1% of nominal voltage.

4. Developing skid mounted circuit breakers for use in Gas Insulated Substations.

High voltage, gas insulated, indoor substations are routinely equipped with gantry cranes that are used to replace circuit breakers, bus sections, etc. Skid mounted circuit breakers, as installed in medium voltage switchgear, will eliminate the need for gantry cranes and thereby reduce the height of indoor substations by 20 feet or more. Reduced substation height will increase physical security of substations.

5. Demonstrating the benefits of converting substations to electric warehouses.

Electric warehouses are substations that are equipped with energy storage modules and dedicated service. The storage modules would be sized to provide energy to specific customers until repairs are completed.

6. Demonstrating the benefits of converting transmission lines to powerways.

Powerways are transmission lines that are equipped with modules that can increase or decrease transmission line impedance to match conductor loading (amps) with conductor capability (amps).

7. Demonstrating the benefits of converting distribution lines to serviceways.

Serviceways are distribution lines that are configured to allow maximum energy flow from substations to customers or maximum energy flow from distributed energy resources to substations.

8. Demonstrating the benefits of reconfiguring serviceways to provide energy to specific customers.

During underfrequency conditions, and during times when energy demand exceeds production capability, rolling blackouts are created by opening circuit breakers in substations. Some customers, for example, hospitals and water treatment facilities, are exempt from load shedding. The goal of demonstrating the benefits of reconfigured serviceways is to demonstrate that using reclosers with remote controls can improve the existing rolling blackout strategy.

Reduce Risk, Improve Reliability

My goals for Prescient this year revolve around reducing risks for electric utilities and improving the reliability of the electric energy grid. By implementing these goals, I hope to help utilities modernize their grid design and operating practices so that they are prepared for a future with climate change-fueled superstorms and wildfires, increased renewable energy dependence, widespread electric vehicle usage, and a host of other challenges.

With Prescient’s insights, electric utilities can be better prepared to continue to serve their customers with safe, reliable electric energy. Contact us to learn more.

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