Wildfires do not 'Play Nicely'. They do not always occur during daylight hours. Sometimes they occur when and where no one sees them…until it's already late, or perhaps too late into the event.
Wildfires can start via lightning strikes, unattended campfires, arson, etc. And they sometimes occur due to electric grid asset failures.
Regardless of the cause, wildfires are dangerous and costly.
For years, we have continued to see wildfires consuming forests, homes and towns. Post-events, we have learned of related injuries, fatalities and mind-boggling rehabilitation and liabilities costs. We have also read about heroes including first responders, neighbors and health-care workers.
But what are we actively doing to truly reduce the size and scope of wildfires, or to prevent them from ever occurring?
We know that many utility operators are actively addressing vegetation management and increased reviews of their grid infrastructure. And we know that some utility operators are considering or engaging in the process of creating underground (versus overhead) utility grids. We know that certain weather conditions facilitate the use of Public Service Power Shut-offs (PSPS). And we know that state and federal government funding support is sometimes being provided to assist in this process.
Yet, how much ground are we gaining on the threat and risk of wildfires? Presumably, the aforementioned actions are helping, although the annual wildfire occurrences and related devastation suggests that we still have much more to do.
ONE Wildfire Event: CampFire, November 8, 2018
- Total Costs & Damages = $25.4+ Billion (est.)
- Fatalities = 85
- Suppression Costs = $150+ Million (est.)
- Liability Costs = $13.5 Billion (est.)
- Total Buildings Destroyed = 18,804 (est.)
- Residences Destroyed = 14,000 (est.)
- Acres Burned = 153,336 (est.)
- Firefighters At Risk = 5,596+ (est.)
- GHG Emissions = 3.9+ Million Metric Tons (est.)
- Utility Pleads to Manslaughter = 84 counts
- Financial Result = Utility Bankruptcy Filing
Worst-Case Wildfire Events Are Occurring…
- California 2020: 31 Deaths, Costs: $12.1 Billion (est.)
- Oregon 2020: 11 Deaths, Costs: $1.2 Billion (est.)
- Australia 2020: 33 Deaths, Costs: $100+ Billion (est.)
Wildfire Greenhouse Gas Emissions (i.e., GHG)…
- California 2020: 112+ Million Metric Tons (est.)
- Oregon 2020: 29.2+ Million Metric Tons (est.)
Surely, it's now evident that one wildfire prevention technique does not result in a wildfire solution. And surely, it's now evident that even with ongoing vegetation management and aggressive PSPS efforts, wildfires are still delivering painful outcomes annually to communities throughout the US and beyond.
The Grid: A Novel, Viable Wildfire Mitigation Solution-Enhancer
As suggested above, one or even two approaches will not result in a wildfire mitigation solution. In fact, it is safe to conclude that a hybrid combination of wildfire mitigation steps will be required to deliver a meaningful wildfire solution that can protect people, our communities and our environment.
While utility operators have sometimes been vilified for wildfire events, the fact is that our electric grid actually represents a Novel, Viable Solution-Enhancer; to proactively address our annual wildfire risks and the ongoing public safety threats.
Our distribution grids span all our communities. The distribution grid infrastructure has been proportionally installed to support residences, commercial and industrial buildings, institutions and our local economies. The distribution grid occurs specifically where we live, where we work and commonly where we play. In turn, the distribution grid itself presents a PERFECT existing infrastructure upon which we can deploy a novel wildfire mitigation solution, creating improved public safety protections.
Our distribution grids are predominantly comprised of Transformers, Power Poles and Power lines. The density of these assets is typically indicative of the density of population and buildings located throughout the communities being served by the respective grid(s).
Realizing that some wildfires are simply unpreventable, regardless of their cause, it is imperative that we implement a solution that can reduce the size, scope, damages and injuries/fatalities impacts that have too-commonly astounded and perhaps sickened many of us, year after year.
To this end, GRIDWIDE FIRE-SPY™ represents the use of wildfire sensors strategically deployed upon our existing overhead distribution transformer fleets. The GRIDWIDE FIRE-SPY sensors can commonly be deployed by utility personnel in under 10 minutes each, and without de-energizing the transformer/grid so there is no interruption to customers. Yes, power remains on for customers while each wildfire sensor is installed.
By installing GRIDWIDE FIRE-SPY sensors on our existing overhead transformer fleets, a first-ever "Always-On" outdoor overhead monitoring canopy is created. This overarching wildfire and public safety monitoring canopy results from a network of sensors that work individually and collectively to facilitate a novel wildfire mitigation solution.
The features afforded by GRIDWIDE FIRE-SPY include Early Detection, Automated Alerts, and the availability of ongoing Situational Awareness information when wildfires and public safety events unfold.
Because fires typically double in size every minute, "time is truly of the essence" when it comes to detecting wildfire indicators and notifying authorities of unfolding events. These cost-effective sensors, quickly installed on our overhead transformers, are designed to monitor changes in ground-surface temperatures, ambient temperature, humidity and to also detect outdoor smoke and gasses. The unique sensor suite presented by GRIDWIDE FIRE-SPY creates a proactive public safety and wildfire mitigation solution.
Additionally, while being mounted to overhead transformers, GRIDWIDE FIRE-SPY also presents the ability to prevent wildfires. By providing utility operators with unique distribution grid asset condition awareness through a series of key data points, it's now possible to prevent certain grid asset failures, which sometimes result in the cause of grid-induced wildfires.
In essence, GRIDWIDE FIRE-SPY simultaneously provides Early Detection, Automated Alerts, Prevention capability and ongoing Situational Awareness data to utility operators and authorized personnel such as first responders. Near real-time data can be the difference-maker needed to save lives and reduce or avoid damages.
This novel wildfire mitigation solution presents a multi-purpose, multi-value wildfire mitigation and public safety protection solution, via a fast-to-install cost-effective monitoring network that overarches our communities. This novel use of our existing electric grid infrastructure meaningfully adds to our ongoing pursuit of improved wildfire mitigation solutions.
Using its "Always On" and Auto Alert operating capability, an increased 'peace of mind' for all stakeholders can now be accomplished through the comprehensive deployment of GRIDWIDE FIRE-SPY throughout communities.
Whether a wildfire or related public safety event is caused by lightning strike, an unattended campfire, arson or a grid asset failure, this first-ever outdoor overhead wildfire monitoring canopy proactively gives utility operators and first responders a substantial 'leg up'. This improves public safety protections, reducing size/scope/cost of wildfires, reducing environmental damage and wildfire-driven Greenhouse Gas emissions, and reducing potentially devastating liability risks for our valued utility operators.
GRIDWIDE FIRE-SPY is designed and approved to operate on multiple cellular carrier networks. Thereby affording maximum flexibility for customers to use the carrier or carriers that best align with their specific needs.
For more information concerning GRIDWIDE FIRE-SPY and its novel advantages, please contact [email protected].