Software Increases Grid Safety During High Fire Risk and Other Natural Disasters

February 06, 2019 by Scott McMahan

DC Systems announced a new product to increase safety and resilience of energy operations during periods of high fire-risk and other dangerous weather conditions. The software called Watchtower analyzes available environmental reporting data in real time and autonomously implements mitigation strategies, such as preventing arcing and sparking in the field due to equipment operations. The image above shows the Camillo Fire in Arizona during burnout operations along the high power lines east of Lake Mary Road and southeast of Mormon Lake. The photo was taken on June 21, 2015, by Liza Simmons, Public Information Officer, United States Forest Service.

Watchtower can automatically disable the reclosing of field switching, or completely cutting power should the conditions surpass critical levels. The product also incorporates real-time reporting, notifying operators of system status via a graphical user interface. The software can issue control tags to make operators aware that a mitigation strategy has been launched.

According to the company, the robust utility-scale software not only reduces wildfire risk, but also risk from ice storms, hurricanes, floods, and other disasters. "During times of high fire risk, Watchtower disables automated field switch operations that could result in an arcing fault," said Douglass Campbell, founder and CTO.

Watchtower was developed as a direct response to the demands of utility customers, who require better tools to respond to extreme weather events such as the wildfires in California.

"We began the development of this product after the Sonoma County wildfires of 2017, automating the removal of risk conditions associated with switching operations that could lead to fires," said company CEO Ken Munson. "We're proud to have developed Watchtower within this past year, and have already begun to deploy this in the market with a major west coast utility before the coming fire season."

Watchtower is the latest product to join the company's robust product suite for intelligent energy management, which already includes software for data acquisition, substation management, distribution automation, transmission, and distribution, as well as enterprise data management, power generation, renewable generation, and energy storage.

Watchtower and the full suite of software solutions from DC Systems will be showcased this week at DistribuTECH 2019, in booth 11921.