Supplemental Projects

Distribution Assets Supplemental Projects 2023

View our current supplemental offerings below or filter for projects by checking any of the boxes below.

Research Area

Key Drivers & Project Types

Overhead Distribution Structure Testing

The objective of full-scale overhead distribution structure testing is to collect performance data for a member, such as failure modes and fallen branch capture rates, and identify approaches to increase structural strength and reduce restorations time and frequency.

Contact: Joe Potvin

Distribution Recloser Life Cycle Management

The Distribution Recloser Life Cycle Management project performs laboratory testing to understand the life-cycle characteristics of distribution reclosers along with a systematic teardown to determine potential future failure modes and degradation mechanisms. This research will help utilities inform specification and selection for new reclosers and give utilities insights into potential future challenges with widescale recloser deployments.

Contact: Jason Anderson

Pole Treatment Technologies

Utilities install approximately 2.5 million wood poles each year for T&D structures. To maximize expected life, the poles must be treated with a preservative to mitigate degradation caused by environmental stressors, fungi, and insects & animals. This research intends to investigate alternative wood pole treatments, including DCOI, a new treatment for wood utility poles.

Contact: Joe Potvin

Online Monitoring Technologies

Technologies are available that aim to provide widespread, continual, online monitoring for distribution assets. The objective of these technologies is to provide information regarding asset health as well as other system information, such as vegetation encroachment. These demonstrations select an online monitoring system to test, deploy it in the field, and then evaluate performance and findings over time. Each demonstration is scalable and is tailored to each participating utility.

Contact: Joe Potvin

Evaluation of Vehicle-Based Inspection Systems

Recently, technologies have been developed that are intended to be mounted to a fleet vehicle, and then passively collect asset imagery as the vehicle travels along its normal route. This novel approach holds potential for increasing system health awareness without the need for increased inspection effort. This project will demonstrate these systems in the field to understand real-world performance and effectiveness.

Contact: Dexter Lewis

Cyber-Physical Security for Distribution Automation

As distribution automation deployments continue, the need to employ robust security around these distributed (and communicating) assets increases. This project aims to demonstrate technologies and approaches to increase cyber and physical security of these distributed assets. Note that this is an application of research results produce in the base EPRI research programs.

Contact: Jason Anderson

Vehicle Impacts to Poles

This project aims to develop a more thorough and scientific understanding of the dynamics and forces produced when a vehicle strikes a distribution pole. Non-wood pole materials, such as composites and ductile iron, are of particular interest. This project will use a specialized laboratory to perform representative impacts to various poles to understand forces and potential mitigation opportunities.

Contact: Joe Potvin

High-Voltage Recloser Testing

Recloser technologies are reaching into higher voltage classes, which enable new operational approaches, but also increase electrical stresses on the asset. This project will perform laboratory testing on new high-voltage recloser technologies that includes performance testing and accelerated aging.

Contact: Jason Anderson

Artificial Intelligence for Distribution

Application of artificial intelligence for image analytics is an attractive approach to increase awareness of system health (physical condition, storm damage, right-of-way issues) in an automated way. EPRI has developed a process to collect and label distribution imagery for use in AI applications, as well as evaluate performance of commercially available systems. This project, tailored to each utility, aims to apply these approaches to utility efforts to accelerate each utility’s development and deployment of AI systems.

Contact: Dexter Lewis

Underground Events: Testing of Monitoring and Mitigation Approaches

EPRI operates a unique laboratory capable to investigating underground explosive events for distribution systems. This facility uses underground structures with a purpose-built combustible gas injection system to intentionally create events so that utilities can understand performance of monitoring systems, as well as mitigation approaches (such as different types of covers).

Contact: John Tripolitis

Manhole Monitoring: Guiding Alarm Settings and Monitor Deployment

Manhole monitoring systems are available on the market, but their technical efficacy is not well understood. Moreover, utilities lack guidance for deploying sensors in an underground structure to most effectively detect the presence of combustible gases and stray voltage, including sensor placement and the establishment of alarm settings. This research seeks to understand the expected movement, migration, pocketing and dissipation characteristics of selected manhole gases to inform detection sensor placement, sensitivities, and alarm settings. In addition, the research will examine the characteristics of elevated (stray) voltages to inform elevated voltage detection sensor placement, sensitivities, and alarm settings.

Contact: John Tripolitis

Downed Conductor Detection Approaches

Lived downed conductors continue to be a challenge for utilities to detect quickly. EPRI has the capabilities to create downed conductor scenarios in a controlled laboratory environment to test approaches for detection of live downed conductors.

Contact: Tom Short

Recloser Backup Power Alternatives

Utilities are expanding the use of reclosers as part of distribution grid modernization efforts. Experience has shown that battery maintenance represents the largest O&M expense related to recloser management. As such, these expanded deployments may increase O&M spending related to battery maintenance. The objective of this project is to investigate the suitability of alternative energy storage technologies to provide recloser backup power.

Contact: Jason Anderson

Evaluation of Aesthetic Wraps for Padmount Equipment

Proactive undergrounding is an effective strategy for improving distribution system resilience and is being increasingly deployed by utilities. To increase the acceptance of padmount equipment, some utilities are considering offering aesthetic wraps on the equipment. However, little is known about the longevity or impact on padmount equipment performance of such wraps. The objective of this research is to examine the performance of aesthetic wraps and to identify any impacts on the reliability, safety, or operation of the underlying padmount equipment.

Contact: John Tripolitis

For more information on these and other projects, click here.