High-Voltage Workers Get Another Safety Tool


According to the federal Energy Information Administration, consumption of electricity has tripled since 1970 and demand is forecasted to increase by another 30 percent by 2035. Our aging Infrastructure and this overwhelming demand have led us to a crucible, a confluence of powerful social, economic and political forces. Frequently, it can be difficult to find common ground on policies, but most people can agree that we do need to produce more of the energy we need from domestic sources. In order to do this we must create the capacity for new power transmission.

Typically, traditional fuel sources can be transported to an electric generation plant; however renewable sources of electricity such as hydro and wind must be generated at the resource location and then transported to where it is used via our power grid infrastructure. Building new transmission lines is a long and complex process that seeks to align diverse and often conflicting interests to meet the needs of this and future generations.


Adding alternative energy sources and the Smart Grid to our power infrastructure is a challenge to say the least! Corridors that can not easily be widened are being packed with more and more towers, lines and equipment, while the amount of power and the speed of transport down these lines is ever increasing. As a result, the propensity for high-voltage accidents for lineworkers has increased tremendously. The Department of Energy is the federal agency that has the responsibility of creating national standards in the development of Smart Grid, Smart Home and Smart Energy. DOE is consigned with the complete modernization of our nation’s integral power infrastructure … while it is running at full capacity … as their responsibility. Transmission and electrical distributions lines use voltages high enough to introduce substantial danger of electrocution for lineworkers in and around their job sites. It is the DOE’s priority to maintain safety standards in increasingly constrained corridors that this new infrastructure is producing.


Because utilities must meet skyrocketing electricity demand with increased power production which translates to the expansion of infrastructure resulting in more workers on job sites and additional safety risks, Colorado State University’s High-Voltage Safety Manual claims that more than 1,000 people are killed and scores of others seriously injured from electric currents each year. The Department of Energy records show that from 80 to 150 deaths are people who work in the high-voltage environment. Although workers exposed to high voltage on a frequent basis are thoroughly trained, accidents still take place. After all, an ongoing safety hazard is the unpredictability of electricity.


The number of high voltage accidents that occur despite their best practices and on-going training touched off an alarm in engineers with the DOE. They began to envision solutions to one of the main safety culprits, a concept which would increase safety for lineworkers. As if there aren’t enough concerns for high-voltage workers, nearby energization and faults in substation or transmission lines can result in high currents flowing back along the earth and producing earth potential rise. Adequate monitoring and warning of these dynamic conditions, surges and overvoltages at the worksites is a big concern for the safety of the lineworkers, and until now could not be identified in real time.


The DOE and the Advantage team are working closely to co-invent the safety instrument which provides this information to high-voltage crews. Advantage was awarded an exclusive domestic and international DOE license to develop this instrument to provide increased high-voltage worker safety. This wireless instrument uses utility favorite, ZigBee wireless communication protocol. Advantage is well under way with the design phase.


Demonstration at EPRI High Voltage Laboratory


The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) has invited Advantage to demonstrate the first prototypes of our new high-voltage safety instrument the Lineworkers Conference in the High-Voltage Transmission Laboratory in Lenox Massachusetts September 29, 30 2010.


ZigBee Rides the Smart Grid Wave


Exciting advances in technology and innovation are materializing every week in custom electronic product development. When it comes to Smart Grid, Smart Energy and Smart technology ZigBee networks and wireless technology is the definitive global technical language that can cause a wide variety of electronic devices to work cooperatively within an energy network. Stakeholders speaking on behalf of technology providers, utilities, researchers, and policy makers have cooperated to identify the major functions of a Smart Grid.

Meetings of the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) concluded that the following characteristics define Smart Grid:

  1. A Self-Healing Network
  2. Consumer Participation
  3. Resistant to Attacks
  4. High Quality Power
  5. Accommodate Generation Options
  6. Enables the Electricity Market
  7. Optimizes Assets
  8. Enable High Penetration of Intermittent Generation Sources (Renewable Energy)


Lower utility costs would be a much welcomed benefit of Smart Grid technology. Saving money and conserving our resources is on everyone’s mind these days. Utility companies are already instituting Smart technologies wherever possible. As part of Smart Grid technology, ZigBee wireless networks are being used for Smart Home devices that control energy use in the home. Advantage has been involved in this movement since early in its inception. We have designed and developed numerous devices including a plug and play home device that saves energy usage (money) for the consumer, and we would like to talk with you about your next project.


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