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Harnessing AI Feature Recognition to Improve Grid Reliability and Restoration

A group of power lines overlayed with connected grid lines

Busayo Akinloye discusses how Tetra Tech’s utility management consulting team, fueled with advanced analytical tools such as FusionMap®, can help you implement our six-stage process for developing a comprehensive secondary circuit model.

Tetra Tech is ramping up reliability with a secondary circuit network model. A well-mapped secondary circuit network model is a crucial tool to help utilities power complex operations in an uncertain energy landscape. With greater awareness of how customers are connected to the distribution system, utilities can restore connections faster, reduce outage durations, and save on maintenance costs–and artificial intelligence (AI) can help.

Mapping and modeling with LiDAR, AI, and GIS

In the face of massive disruption, conventional mapping techniques—costly, time consuming, and prone to human error—are not enough. Modern utilities need comprehensive 3D maps of their distribution network to limit the need for manually patrolling millions of miles of power lines. Our AI feature recognition capabilities have helped identify vegetation encroachment and cable faults. Now, we are able to use it to map customer connections.

LiDAR and geographic information systems (GIS) are cost effective, accurate, and efficient, capable of mapping assets from the substation to the meter and even the customer panel. They allow utilities to capture, store, analyze, and manage data on each individual component in their distribution network. LiDAR sensors use laser technology to produce 3D maps of the environment, while GIS technology enables the integration and analysis of spatial data.

Gone are the days of manual inspections and handwritten notes on damage assessment logs. Utilities can use images collected by fixed-wing remotely piloted aircraft or vehicles patrolling streets and structure the data with AI to create more than just maps and detailed profiles of the terrain. By integrating advanced analytics and modeling techniques, utilities can develop an up-to-date and comprehensive model with locations of all secondary circuits and connected infrastructure.

Describing assets, predicting events, and optimizing performance

Secondary circuit models enable proactive management. They provide a level of precision and detail that empowers decision-makers. In addition to the locations of circuits, the models pinpoint overhead single-phase and three-phase distribution transformers, distribution poles, and overhead distribution switches and metering equipment. They can contain information not only on location but also on condition and connectivity.

Combining the best data and human insight, utility leaders can streamline operations, reduce costs, plan for future growth, and respond more quickly and effectively to service interruptions and outages.

Risk managers can identify potential safety hazards, prioritize maintenance and repair activities, and reduce the risk of accidents and equipment failure. Grid operators can ensure that network improvements and additions, such as the adoption of distributed energy resources, are integrated smoothly and do not negatively impact network reliability.

Tetra Tech’s approach to accurately map utility infrastructure

Tetra Tech’s utility management consultants, equipped with advanced analytical tools such as FusionMap, can help you implement our six-stage process for developing a comprehensive secondary circuit model (Figure 1). We work with clients to produce digital models tailored to your utility’s systems and processes, from inception and pilot design through data analysis and change management.


Geographic Area Selection


Identify suitable region within service area


Data Discovery

Data Collection

Conduct a comprehensive review of existing data sources


Data Acquisition

Strategic Plan

Develop a plan and schedule for data collection in the pilot area


Data Analysis Modeling

AI Modeling

Utilize algorithms to identify utility assets: wires, transformers, poles, overhead distribution meters and switches




Validate analysis results with ground data collection


Reporting and Deliverables


Deliver the key insights and recommendations

Figure 1: Tetra Tech’s six-stage process to create a utility circuit model

Learn more about how Tetra Tech’s utility consultants can help you harness AI feature recognition.

About the author

Headshot of Busayo Akinloye

Busayo Akinloye, P.Eng

Busayo Akinloye, P.Eng has more than 10 years of experience in the power consulting industry.

He has worked as a transmission and operations planning engineer for a vertically integrated urban utility and as a power systems studies engineer. Busayo has extensive experience developing innovative capital and asset portfolios to improve or maintain grid reliability while keeping ratepayers’ costs low. Recently, he worked on an integrated capital portfolio plan that saved $22.7 million and deferred $62.6 million in capital costs while maintaining grid reliability.

Busayo’s experience includes risk analysis, failure prediction, and forecasting. His work has garnered industry recognition, including a nomination by the Edison Electric Institute and ranking as T&D World Magazine’s fifth-most-read article in 2021. He has published technical papers on the use of data analysis and machine learning to improve grid reliability, preparedness, and resilience. Busayo holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Manitoba.

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