Tackling Overhead Power Line Theft

Distributed Acoustic Sensing Systems Detect Intrusion and
Disruption of Overhead Power Lines, Reducing Theft and Costs

Power line theft and tampering is a major problem worldwide, costing the industry over $96 billion a year in electricity theft alone. Within the power supply sector, it can create power supply disruption and operational losses for supply companies and national grids. Current methods for tackling this issue, whether due to power or metal theft, can be time consuming, inefficient and expensive.
A project in the Dominican Republic, in conjunction with utilities provider EDESUR, has shown how Bandweaver’s Horizon Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) system can provide a cost-effective method of identifying and reducing tampering levels. Bandweaver, a world leader in fiber optic monitoring solutions, together with its local partner in the Dominican Republic, the SSS Group, deployed the Horizon DAS technology to show how it can identify tampering with overhead lighting and distribution poles that are connected via a fiber optic cable. The premise was that this would allow for real-time identification of threats and tampering to EDESUR assets, utilizing the existing fiber optic cables already in place and resulting in substantial cost savings to EDESUR.

The system utilizes a standard fiber optic cable that is connected to the poles being monitored. By constantly analyzing just one fiber in the cable, the entire route can be monitored for threats 24/7.

Jesús Muñoz, SSS Group representative, said, “We installed the system and filtered out surrounding environmental noises such that any underlying disturbances could be detected. EDESUR employees initiated various disturbances at random locations — each were seen and located by the Horizon DAS system.”

[This demonstration proved that by using Bandweaver’s DAS technology EDESUR was able to:

• Identify the exact location of the disturbance

• Pass the tampering information on to security systems for immediate action

• Broadcast alerts to company personnel via e-mail and SMS

The Horizon DAS fiber optic sensing system provides a cost-effective solution to the problem of power theft and tampering with electricity lines. It provides instant notification that a problem is occurring at a specific location, ensuring that security personnel can take immediate action. Potential losses are kept to a minimum and there is little, if any, disruption to the power supply.

This project emphasizes the value that the Horizon DAS technology can offer utilities to cut costs and increase system availability by alerting users at the commencement of potential threats, enabling action to be taken before significant damage is done. UP

[ Author: Richard Kluth,Pic Courtesy:www.utilityproducts.com]

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