Analysis of the Entire US Transmission Grid

The largest machine on the planet is the US electric power grid with nearly 7 million miles of transmission and distribution lines. For the first time the entire publicly available transmission grid of the United States of America has been analyzed as one. All 573,323 miles of overhead transmission lines were investigated by LiveEO to determine the length of transmission lines threatened by vegetation.

Vegetation, the Main Cause of Outages

Reports of power outages caused by storms, hurricanes, wildfires or minor events like declining trees coming in contact with power lines reach the news frequently. Actually, more than 50% of outages are the result of vegetation interfering with power lines. Condition-based satellite monitoring reduces the number of incidents. 

transmission pole from below
percentage of vegetation near transmission lines per US state

Half of All Transmission Lines Are Near Vegetation

Over 1.7 million mi² of imagery were processed to investigate even the most remote transmission lines. This amounts to about 45% of the total land area of the United States. The resulting analysis concludes that a total of 50% of the transmission grid in the United States is exposed to vegetation closer than 90ft.

Statistics

  • 166,000 miles with vegetation closer than 30 ft
  • 244,000 miles with vegetation closer than 60 ft
  • 291,000 miles with vegetation closer than 90 ft

The Creation of the Analysis


To evaluate the number of miles of transmission lines exposed to vegetation LiveEO set out to analyze the entire publicly available US transmission grid. Using an AI-augmented approach, LiveEO has demonstrated the feasibility of analyzing continent sized infrastructure. A task deemed close to impossible without the use of satellite data.

geo-referenced locations on earth

Grid Data

The basis of the analysis is geo-referenced transmission grid data.

satellite around earth

Satellite Data

In order to create precise analysis accurate satellite imagery is acquired corresponding to the grid.

data gathered and processed in data base

Classification

Every pixel within a certain distance around the grid is classified as tree or not-tree.

alert bell ringing

Risk Assessment

Segments of the grid that are within the critical distance to any tree cover are identified.

information in computer

Statistic

A summarizing statistic of these all vegetation-exposed grid segments is created.

With LiveEO's scalable architecture more than 15,000 satellite images were gathered and processed to investigate vegetation encroachment on over half a million overhead lines, classifying vegetation within 90 feet on either side of the power-lines, and assessing potential threats using advanced analytic tools. In the last step of the process the length of every segment of the grid in the vicinity of vegetation was identified and compiled into the resulting analysis.

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Miles investigated

to find the total amount of transmission lines threatened by vegetation. The entire US power transmission grid.

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Square miles analyzed

to determine the amount of vegetation near and its distance to transmission lines.

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Square miles processed

to precisely assess even the most remote lines. This is about 45% of the total area of the United States.

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Images aquired

to conduct the analysis on a scientifically accurate basis.

Such a large scale analysis is only possible by utilizing satellite data, which allows for the possibility to monitor continent sized grids at once. LiveEO provides this vegetation monitoring and other analytics to electric utilities, pipeline and railway operators in varying precisions and frequencies.

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