More than 4,000 power line-caused wildfires have occurred in Texas in the past three and a half years, costing the state and its citizens hundreds of millions of dollars. In response, the legislature has appropriated funds to demonstrate new technologies to mitigate wildfire risks and losses. A project initiation meeting will be held Thursday, December 12, 2013, at PUC headquarters in Austin.
The Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) has developed power Circuit Health Monitoring technology, which is capable of detecting downed power lines, failing line apparatus, and arcing equipment that can cause fires. Preliminary work has shown that CHM technology, in concert with Texas A&M Forest Service fire-risk predictive models, can prevent many wildfires and provide more timely awareness of fires as they occur, facilitating rapid response. The CHM system has the potential to improve public safety, save lives, and significantly reduce wildfire-related property losses.
The Texas legislature has authorized and funded a two-year TEES project to demonstrate the effectiveness CHM technology in selected high-risk fire areas. The success of the project will depend upon cooperation from many stakeholders: utility companies, local fire-response teams, and state agencies, including Emergency Management and the Public Utility Commission.