Wednesday, November 27, 2019 - 06:00

(TNS) — California utilities are experimenting with a new technology that proponents say could help prevent both electricity shutoffs and equipment failure-related wildfires.

The technology comes as the Pacific Gas & Electric faces intense criticism over its Public Safety Power Shutoff program, which has led to hundreds of thousands of Californians being left without power, often for days at a time, in an effort to prevent failing equipment from starting wildfires.

Distribution Fault Anticipation, as the technology is called, uses a predictive algorithm to assess electric systems and identify potential equipment failures, not unlike how a modern vehicle’s onboard computer works by “telling you everything there is to know of what’s wrong with the car,” said B. Don Russell.

Russell, a distinguished professor for Texas A&M University, helped develop the technology as part of the Power System Automation Laboratory.

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