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Adapting to Reduced Equipment Thermal Ratings

Submitted by Élyse Fournier 10th August 2017 3:03



Higher temperatures due to climate change pose a significant challenge for many of the power lines that distribute electricity to homes and businesses. By law, power lines must hang a minimum distance above the ground. Electric utilities operate distribution lines and equipment, and manage minimum clearance requirements on the basis of thermal ratings, which are estimates of the total capacity of an electrical component to carry current at a point in time. Power lines sag as they heat up, due to two main factors: warmer temperatures and increased amounts of energy transmitted through the lines. As temperatures rise due to climate change, some lines would likely hang below the minimum distance from the ground required by law. This case study describes the approaches taken by several utilities to mitigate this challenge. A cost-effective approach is to adopt improved design standards for new distribution equipment.

At a Glance

Industry sector: Transmission, Distribution, and Transfer
Type of resources: Generic
Type of energy: Electricity
Adaptation type: Management Design and operation standards, guidelines, tools and schedules Physical Equipment protection, upgrades and alternative materials
Organization: Western Power Distribution
Organization type: Utility