T&D World Magazine

DOE Awards Grant for Wireless System that Connects Underground Distribution Sensors

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded On-Ramp Wireless a grant to contribute to the improvement of the nation’s distribution grid. The grant will enable On-Ramp to utilize its award-winning Ultra-Link Processing (ULP) wireless communication system to develop and demonstrate the first wireless grid sensor and faulted circuit indicator capable of monitoring underground and other hard-to-reach distribution circuit locations from a fixed installed network. On-Ramp will conduct the project on in partnership with two western utilities.

Large utilities are challenged with managing tens of thousands of distribution grid sensors, above and below ground, in a given service area. This often means the sensors end up being largely unmonitored until a fault event occurs, usually in an emergency situation. A system that is capable of reliably and securely reaching into the below ground sensors would significantly reduce time to isolate, repair and restore service to consumers. Using its technology, On-Ramp will develop and demonstrate the first wireless system to address this ability using the DOE grant.

On-Ramp successfully demonstrated the ability to connect wireless sensors throughout the distribution grid in a field test with Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc. this July. In the test, Wireless Sensors for Overhead Lines (WSO) from SEL were combined with On-Ramp’s fully integrated ULP system to monitor and report real-time fault indication and condition data. 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.

Including On-Ramp, the DOE announced five grants last week in an effort to modernize the electric grid.

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