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Fiber Optic Sensing in City Power Networks (FiOPS)
Topic: FOSA Case Studies
Owner: FOSA Staff
Date: 2019-03-15

After experiencing challenging media coverage and public outcry over safety concerns following cable fires and dislodged manhole covers, Indianapolis Power & Light Company partnered with Texas-based Fiber Optic Pipeline Solutions - FiOPS - to be the first electric utility ever to use a distributed temperature sensing (DTS) system to monitor external high-temperature threats in an underground network secondary grid. This development is a game changer in the electric utility space, and has the far-reaching potential of enhancing safety for any large metropolitan area that utilizes both electricity and steam in its network.

Beneath the streets of downtown Indianapolis is a complex system of transformers, cables, and control equipment that make up Indianapolis Power & Light’s (IPL) underground secondary network. Starting in 2010 and culminating in the spring of 2015, IPL faced a challenging situation and public outcry over safety concerns following an increase in cable fires and dislodged manhole covers in its downtown network. IPL determined one of the main contributing factors to the increase in events was long-term exposure to excessive heat from the steam distribution system. With a commitment to the safety of the Indianapolis community, IPL engineers began to search for an innovative solution to address the issue.

IPL’s investigation led them to a technology primarily used in the oil and pipeline industry, Distributed Temperature Sensing (DTS). Since the implementation of the DTS system, IPL has been able to proactively monitor its downtown network and quickly address high-temperature threats before they become an issue. In addition to DTS, in 2018, IPL’s engineering team implemented a pilot program using Distributed Acoustical Sensing (DAS) technology to further monitor for additional threats to the secondary network. DAS allows IPL to monitor for infrastructure damage, as well as, locating cable faults. The implementation of both DTS and DAS has allowed IPL to become the first electric utility ever to use fiber optic sensing technology to monitor threats to an underground secondary network. More importantly, both systems allow IPL to be proactive in ensuring the downtown secondary network remains a safe, reliable system.

Download File   Fiber Optic Sensing in City Power Networks (FiOPS) .pdf