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Quick Disconnect Cables for Utility Power Distribution Systems


Trends indicate that severe weather events are on the rise. The year 2011 was the worst ever for disasters (fires, drought, tornados, etc.). The impact of severe weather events on critical infrastructure is immediate. With regard to the electricity subsector, 90% of all power outages occur on the distribution system. Significant damage to a utility’s distribution system can occur from wind, rain, lightening and ice storms. Restoration times vary depending on the severity of the storm and the damage sustained by the system. To assist in restoration & recovery efforts, DHS S&T is looking for ways to allow for graceful degradation of the distribution system and/or sacrificial system components that minimize impact and enable rapid recovery.

Often times during a severe weather event, the above-ground distribution system experiences downed power lines and/or damaged or destroyed utility poles or power line support structures. Electric utility distribution powers and structures are designed for 90mph winds. However, 3

rd party attachments (telecom services, etc.), and other elements of severe weather can change the loading on a pole. Restoration efforts require crews to replace the poles/support structures and restring the power cable in order to restore power. A quick disconnect type of cable could reduce excessive loading forces on a utility pole or support structure during an event and ultimately may prevent damage, allowing for easy and rapid restoration after an event.

The goal is for the quick disconnect device/cable to sense when "disengagement" from the supporting structure may be necessary, to be able to safely, quickly, and reliably "disengage" without causing damage to the cable or its support structure, and support rapid restoration (i.e., the ability to "quick connect" the distribution line back up) following the event. The system should not impact normal operations. Preference is for a quick disconnect system that is based on existing distribution cable designs (i.e., allows for retrofit/installation of quick-disconnect device vs. a completely new cable system). The quick-disconnect cable system must meet all applicable ANSI/IEEE industry standards, as well as any applicable safety and environmental standards. As downed power lines can pose a safety threat if they remain energized, the solution should at a minimum have a visual indicator to indicate if the line is still energized or if it has been de-energized. A solution that de-energizes and/or alerts the utility operator when a disconnect occurs is desired.

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