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Exacter Field Data is Showing Grid Vulnerability to Lightning Strikes - Surge Arresters Make Up 20-40% of Deteriorating Line Equipment Findings

COLUMBUS, OH / ACCESSWIRE / March 26, 2015 / Lightning arresters /surge arresters are electric utilities' first line of defense against surge-related power outages. However, current field metrics from Exacter, Inc. are showing that 20-40% of the problems they uncover on the grid are these devices. Exacter grid inspection surveys and analytic reports covering millions of poles across the US power grid reveal a significant amount of lightning arresters have either failed or deteriorated in performance, and may not protect against surges. "There are often no visual or heat-related signs that a lightning arrester is deteriorated or has failed making it almost impossible to determine if each arrester is in working condition," states Geoffrey Bibo, Exacter President. "Our proprietary technology has been very effective at identifying and locating the Failure Signatures(TM) associated with arresters and our data is showing that about 20% of the problematic conditions we find are related to these devices. In the southeast that number is more than 40%." To see Exacter's cumulative data on deteriorated equipment across the US power grid, click this link, http://www.exacterinc.com/problematic-equipment-statistics.

Industry statistics seem to validate Exacter's field metrics showing 20% of all power outages (more than 372,000 annually in the U.S.) occur because lightning arresters had failed prior to the lightning strike. What makes this problem even more significant is that when an arrester fails, all of the equipment it was supposed to protect can be damaged - often causing prolonged power outages.

"In the past utilities have been frustrated because there has never been a cost-effective, logistically-viable means to evaluate arrester health on a system-wide basis," continued Bibo. "However, with the advent of Exacter technology, utilities can identify arrester Failure Signatures(TM) across a system - and in a matter of about 6 weeks, receive maps, GPS locations, and a photograph of all the lightning arresters exhibiting signs of deterioration - everything necessary to take targeted action."

With electrical storm season fast approaching, this is a very strategic time for utilities to consider shoring-up their lighting arrester defense shield. Because an arrester protects multiple devices and sometimes impacts multiple commercial facilities, targeted efforts toward these devices can have a very positive return on investment.

"We have developed a specific survey called The Lightning Arrester Verification Program," states John Lauletta, CEO and Chief Technology Officer at Exacter, Inc. "We provide a 40,000 ft view of where the problems are. While we will identify a comprehensive list of faulty arresters, we often recommend a strategy of targeting components on key circuits near reclosers, substations, and commercial/industrial locations that will have the biggest impact on overall reliability. This approach is more cost-effective and allows the utility to deploy its field resources to the most important targets - and we provide actionable data in a matter of weeks." Learn more about lightning arrester testing and maintenance here, http://www.exacterinc.com/verification-of-lightning-arresters.

Proprietary Exacter technology identifies leaking current, which is the primary sign of a failed lightning arrester. Vehicles equipped with Exacter technology drive circuits and report the GPS locations of equipment that is arcing, tracking, or in the case of arresters, leaking. Field verification teams go to each location using ultrasonic technology to confirm the problematic condition. The final report includes pole numbers, GPS location, GIS compatible files, and a photograph of the actual deteriorating or failed equipment.

Since 2007, Exacter has surveyed millions of utility poles. Their field-proven process is highly accurate for identifying equipment in deteriorated or weakened condition.

"The statistics don't lie. There is a significant portion of the utility industry's lightning arresters in a deteriorated condition. With an aging distribution infrastructure, the problem is only going to get worse," concluded Lauletta. "By shoring up a utility's defense shield, you minimize collateral equipment damage from lightning strikes. The Lightning Arrester Verification Program provides utilities with a strategy to evaluate and strengthen their lightning protection before the spring storm season." A recent White House study on Grid Resilency discusses investing in ways to improve grid reliability, see it here http://www.exacterinc.com/White-House-Grid-Study.

Exacter, Inc. is a provider of predictive technology and grid health inspection services to the electric utility industry. Data gathered through field surveys provide valuable management analytics for the development of a variety of reliability strategies. Exacter field analytics and intelligence is also being used for the quality assurance of Smart Grid systems, AMR systems, and critical measurement of transmission lines.


Jason Nowland
The Nowland Group

SOURCE: Exacter, Inc.