Duquesne Light Company to Implement New System to Improve Underground Cable Safety

PITTSBURGH — Following a two-year process, Duquesne Light Company (DLC) has selected the winning solution of its public crowdsourcing innovation challenge — “Monitoring Electrical Cable Challenge: The Future of Underground Inspection” — focused on creating a safer and more reliable underground electrical network in DLC’s two-county service territory in southwestern Pennsylvania. The “Smart Cable Guard” system by DNV stood out among other submissions for its quick installation times, enhanced visibility on potential infrastructure issues and ability to be effectively applied to Pittsburgh’s complex electrical grid. The Smart Cable Guard also met the challenge’s safety, operational and cost requirements needed to move the implementation process forward.

“DLC is committed to investing in critical infrastructure and enhancing our dedication to worker and public safety. This project emphasizes the importance of innovation in our industry and shows how DLC is solving current and future challenges while continuing to drive our mission of a clean energy future for all,” said Brian Guzek, DLC’s vice president of corporate strategy. “DNV’s Smart Cable Guard will enable us to identify and address potential issues within our underground cable system faster, which will lead to improved worker and public safety for many years to come. We greatly appreciate DNV’s collaboration and expertise over the past few years and look forward to implementing their devices across our underground network.”

The Smart Cable Guard system is designed to be installed throughout the underground electrical grid, feeding real-time data into an analytics platform powered by AI that sends operational alerts to DLC. The company will receive live data that quickly locates cable faults, identifies current cable conditions and predicts future issues before any work is performed. The information can also help crews determine what protective gear and equipment are necessary to have on-site. DLC is only the third utility in North America to implement this innovative technology.

“It was highly rewarding to work with DLC’s Innovation team to showcase our technology in alignment with their specifications and demonstrate that our online monitoring platform is ideally suited to support the requirements of U.S. utilities,” said Richard Denissen, director of Smart Cable Guard at DNV. “Winning the competition is a testament to the need for technology that enables utilities to keep power outages at a minimum while ensuring safety for their workers and the public. We are delighted that DLC’s independent competition confirmed that the Smart Cable Guard 24/7 online monitoring system is the leading solution to improve grid reliability, resilience and safety.”

DLC launched the innovation challenge in December 2021 through crowdsourcing platform HeroX and received submissions from entrepreneurs, scientists, researchers and students from around the world. Beginning in 2025, the company expects to implement DNV’s system across more than 500 miles of its underground network over a five-year period.

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