Fortnightly Top Innovators 2018
Mychal Kistler is Relay and Protection Technician, PPL Electric Utilities.
Steve Mitnick is Editor-in-Chief of Public Utilities Fortnightly and President of Lines Up, Inc.
PUF: What is the Arc Sense project and how does it promote safety for the public?
Mychal Kistler: Energized down conductors are a known safety hazard within our industry. A few years ago, we started purchasing Schweitzer (SEL) relays with an Arc Sense feature for detecting down conductors.
We didn't know what to do with it at first, because it hadn't been used before. We rolled it out and had some initial issues with false alarms. The algorithm was mistaking certain equipment on our system for downed conductors, creating false alarms.
We spent quite a bit of time trying to determine what was causing those false alarms. We worked with SEL to perform testing on our system at third party high-voltage testing facilities to prove how the algorithm works, how long it takes to detect a downed conductor, and what surfaces it works best on.
Once we got to that point, we felt confident that it could detect downed conductors and we knew how to filter out the false signals. And although we know that the technology can't detect a hundred percent of downed conductors, now we at least can detect some of them. Whereas before we started using this technology, we couldn't detect any.