PI: Paolo Bocchini
University: Lehigh University

Lehigh University and OSIsoft will partner to conduct a preliminary study on wildfire risk associated with power line failures caused by strong winds. In the past few years, millions of acres were burned by these fires, billions of dollars were lost, and hundreds of civilians lost their lives in these accidents. As a preventive measure, power companies are operating "public safety power shutoff" event. However, to avoid liability, power companies have very low thresholds to trigger these blackouts, possibly too low. In the last planned blackout, more than three million people and commercial activities remained without power, with obvious negative social and economic consequences.

OSIsoft and Lehigh want to join forces to build a comprehensive model of wind, vegetation, power line topology, and structural characteristics of the power line components, to determine accurately the risk of starting fires. These models can be used when a strong wind event is imminent, to determine if a preventive blackout is actually warranted. Moreover, they can be used irrespective of imminent events to identify the power line segments at highest risk, and allocate effectively the limited resources to put these lines underground.

Lehigh’s researchers already have expertise in catastrophe modeling, risk assessment, and regional infrastructure analysis. OSIsoft can facilitate the data acquisition and processing (especially the real-time processing when there is an imminent event). This would improve the state of Pennsylvania as it would impact jobs in PA as OSIsoft moves to support this dramatic change in the power sector for California and other areas to follow.