California Utility Expands Use Of Texas A&M Wildfire Prevention System


PG&E engineers call outage prediction tool ‘fundamental’ to reducing risk.

The threat of catastrophic wildfires has led California investor-owned utility Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) to significantly expand its use of a tool developed at Texas A&M University that helps stop fires before they start. The tool is called Distribution Fault Anticipation (DFA). It’s a unique hardware and software system that detects circuit anomalies, notifying utility operators to address issues before they cause power outages or spark fires.

Two veteran PG&E engineers, Eric Schoenman and John Mead, highlighted the utility’s growing use of DFA in an article last month titled New Tools in the Fight to Reduce Wildfire Ignition. It was published in T&D World, a leading utility industry magazine.

In 2019, PG&E installed DFA on seven circuits to evaluate its effectiveness. Based on the results, the utility is adding DFA to 50 circuits in 2021 and anticipates adding 600 circuits over the next three years.

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