T&D World Magazine

Field Test Demonstrates Ability to Connect Wireless Sensors Throughout Distribution Grid at Major Utility

On-Ramp Wireless and Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc. have completed a successful field test with a western utility company within their distribution network. The extensive field test successfully demonstrated the ability to connect wireless sensors throughout the distribution grid, significantly reducing time to isolate, repair, and restore service to consumers.

Wireless Sensors for Overhead Lines (WSO) from SEL, were combined with a fully integrated On-Ramp Ultra-Link Processing (ULP) wireless communication system. Real-time fault indication and condition data, including average hourly load and momentary event counters at varying intervals, were monitored by the sensor and reported by the integrated radio. This enabled a comprehensive view of the distribution grid performance, results of which can be used not only for rapid and precise fault location, but also for predictive maintenance, grid automation, long-term grid efficiency and capital planning.

The field test spanned an approximately 200 sq. mile territory that included mountainous terrain and provided wireless communication with overhead distribution wireless sensors. The field test, conducted on the utility’s operational distribution grid, demonstrated a 100% status and event report delivery rate during the entire duration of the study in a 24x7 real world high interference environment.

“The WSO is a distribution automation sensor that stores load and temperature data as it monitors the distribution line for loss of voltage, loss of current, and faults,” according to Daniel F. Clifford, general manager of the SEL Fault Indicator and Sensor Division. “This sensor transmits reports, in this case in conjunction with On-Ramp’s ULP system, helping utility personnel locate faults more quickly and easily.”

All status and event data generated by the wireless sensor were reliably delivered by On-Ramp’s ULP communication system during the course of the field test, in which messages were communicated every eight hours during normal operation and real time on fault or alarm condition. The information was readily available via a secure Web Services Application, enabling to view fault status and threshold, average load, and temperature trends for the reporting period, giving the utility the insight needed to quickly respond to faults and make decisions and plans for future changing grid conditions.

During the test, the ULP Access Points successfully communicated with battery-operated wireless sensors, located three to eight miles from the Access Point.

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