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Predictive Data & Analytics From Exacter Shed New Light for Protecting the Nation's Electric Grid Assets

Columbus, OH - (NewMediaWire) - June 9, 2016 - Lightning arresters are the distribution grid's first line of defense against power outages because they act as a shield against power surges. However, field data from Exacter, Inc. is revealing a more complex, systemic challenge for the nation's utilities to find a means of identifying problems and assuring proper maintenance can be performed. "Our field statistics are revealing that the desired surge protection lightning arresters provide must take into consideration the wellness of the overall arrester system, which extends to the insulating body, the ground wire and its installation, the connectors and the isolation," states John Lauletta, CEO and Chief Technical Officer for Exacter, Inc. "If there is a problem with any one of the elements, the circuit that arrester is protecting may be exposed and vulnerable to a surge event."

Exacter has an extensive database of equipment failure findings based on 10 years of data from its conditions-based assessments of utilities across the US and Canada. Their database shows that 20-40% of the problems they uncover on the grid are lightning arresters. See Stats here:

This is more significant than other overhead components on the grid because the arresters are protecting multiple pieces of equipment. If the protection is down, it can expose 10-20 additional overhead devices. Perhaps the biggest challenge is that there are usually no visible or detectable signs of an arrester problem -- making them almost impossible to remediate. Recently, in an effort to explore this problem deeper, Exacter, in conjunction with an arrester manufacturer, conducted some extensive laboratory research on failed systems. The research reveals a number interesting findings including:

  • 60Hz transient voltages can damage MOV arresters more than lighting strikes
  • Insufficient grounding or long ground leads make the system more vulnerable
  • Arcing or leaking insulating materials and connectors on the system weaken protection

The research and study conducted by Exacter concluded that problems on the arrester system are difficult to discover visually. Furthermore, the inherent weakness is more emission-based, rather than heat-based meaning IR surveillance methods will not uncover the points of vulnerability. "Even if a utility wanted to undertake a comprehensive inspection program of the grounding and surge protection systems across their overhead, the technology and methodology to find emissions hasn't been available -- and that doesn't even take into consideration the cost, manpower, and methods to evaluate overall arrester system health," continued Lauletta. "The good news for utilities is that Exacter's patented technology will identify these risks on all surge protection system components, meaning if there is a point of vulnerability in the protection scheme at a particular location, Exacter will pinpoint it for remediation." Learn More Here:

Exacter can survey expansive territories and provide a complete report of all points of risk to lightning arresters and system-related components in a matter of four-to-six weeks. Exacter data can be overlaid with asset management and GIS data that enables the utility to prioritize the most important locations based on number of customers and critical assets.

"The statistics don't lie. There is a significant portion of the utility industry's lightning arresters and related system components in a deteriorated condition," concluded Lauletta. "Shoring up a utility's defense shield is no longer cost, or manpower prohibitive. Exacter is an easy-to-implement solution for identifying problems that will help minimize collateral equipment damage from lightning strikes. It may be the most strategic benefit a utility can make to impact SAIDI, CMI, number of power outages, and overall reliability."

To see Exacter's cumulative data on deteriorated equipment across the US power grid, click this link:

EXACTER®, Inc. is an Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) company that focuses on electric utilities worldwide. Exacter's multiple patents and trade secret algorithms create a platform technology for providing unique visibility into grid health, identifying areas of safety and system risk, and informing asset management and intelligence-based reliability initiatives.

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The Nowland Group

Jason Nowland