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William A. Chisholm John Williamson and Shelly Burnett Greg Hodges
Kinectrics New Brunswick Power Fugro Airborne Surveys

800 Kipling Avenue KL206 Toronto, Ontario CANADA M8Z 6C4 (

Abstract Lightning protection of EHV lines relies on 2.1 Line Description

adequate ground electrode surface area, achieved through
the foundations and through supplementary electrodes in For secure transmission links from nuclear and coal-fired
areas of high soil resistivity. A process for efficient power plants to important industrial and commercial
treatment is described. The process involves helicopter-
loads, the following features were used in the 1975
based reconnaissance of two-layer resistivity, validated by
ground-based Wenner resistivity surveys; Design of NB Power designs of 345-kV transmission lines to give
treatment options using simple models; Validation of favorable lightning performance:
treatment effectiveness using active impulse injection into
treated and untreated towers, using highly portable Two overhead groundwires, with good electro-
equipment. On a project involving 160 km of 345-kV lines, magnetic coupling to the phases
the process identified a significant fraction of towers that did Shielding angles of 22, providing nearly perfect
not need treatment, so that resources could be diverted to shielding for average geometry
locations with high resistivity.
Insulation length of 3.05 m, with impulse strength of
about 1650 kV BIL
Low tower impedance, through the use of four guy
This text provides reference data and experimental wires in parallel with two main tower members
support for three purposes:
Figure 1 shows the tower and grounding geometry.
To show the reader that it is possible to establish soil
resistivity along existing or new transmission lines with
the use of airborne electromagnetic methods.

To demonstrate that this improved input data for earth

resistivity can be used efficiently in design or evaluation
of transmsision line grounding, leading to overall
economic benefit.

To describe the test equipment, methods and typical

results used to validate improved ground electrodes using
active transient injection at the tower base.



New Brunswick is situated in eastern Canada, an area

with low lightning activity. The ground flash density has
a long-term average value of 0.3-0.4 flashes per km2 per Figure 1: 345-kV Transmission Towers from New Brunswick, Canada
year has been measured both with CIGRE 10-kHz (Dimensions in feet, 0.3048 m per foot)
lightning flash counters [1] and, more recently, the North
American Lightning Detection Network [2]. A pilot project to improve the lightning performance of
the 345-kV system was initiated by NB Power in 2001.
Since transmission line surge arresters are not widely

available for this voltage class, the focus of the study was 1 (2)
to improve the transmission tower footing impedance, P ( I I *) 2. 6
I *
with a target of 20-25 at most towers. 1
where I* is in kA. This expression is easily inverted to
2.2 Incidence of Lightning Flashes to Line
give the current as a function of probability level:
A ground flash density Ng (lightning strokes per square 1 P 2.6

km per year) can be obtained using automatic lightning I * 31 (3)

detection equipment [3] and a period of observation that
For the probability level P =0.0833, I*=78 kA. With
gives 400 observations in each selected study area. In
some areas where automatic equipment has not been 3.05 m of insulation (2500 kV at 2 s) and a coupling
deployed, global measurements of Optical Transient coefficient of 0.3, the parallel combination of skywire and
Density can be used with an approximate conversion footing impedance that will backflash at this 78-kA
factor of four grouped flashes per ground flash [4]. current level is 46 .

The lightning ground flash density in the area around Taking into account all line dimensions in Figure 1, the
Point Lepreau, New Brunswick is highly variable. Near electromagnetic coupling and other factors in the IEEE
the ocean, the density was measured to be low. However, Standard 1243 approach [6], Figure 2 shows the
50 km to the north of the Bay of Fundy, the Canadian calculated lightning outage rate as a function of footing
Lightning Detection Network (CLDN) reported a density resistance.
of more than 1.0 flash per km2 per year over three years.
The observed multiplicity of 3.5-4 strokes per flash in
New Brunswick is high, compared to global and
Canadian average values.

The historic values of ground flash density for New

Brunswick from CIGRE 10-kHz lightning flash counters
show the same variability as the CLDN data. The median
value of 0.34 flashes per km2 per year, measured at
Pennfield, Shannon and Coles Isle, is used here for
estimating transmission lightning performance.

The number of strokes to the overhead line can be

estimated using the following expression [5,6]:

28ht0.6 b
N N g (1) Figure 2: Computed Lightning Outage Rate of New Brunswick 345-kV
10 Transmission Lines as function of Footing Resistance

N is the flashes/100 km/year to the line The observed lightning performance of the NB Power
Ng is the ground flash density per km2 per year lines varies considerably from year to year, corresponding
ht is the height of the overhead groundwire at the tower loosely to the annual variation in ground flash density.
b is the overhead ground wire separation in m However, long-term average performance suggests that
average tower footing resistance is between 60 to 80 on
With the 20-m (65 foot) average tower height from some lines.
Figure 1, b=13 m and the average ground flash density of
0.34 / km2-year, Equation (1) gives a stroke incidence rate 3 MODELS OF TOWER RESISTANCE
of only 6 flashes per 100 km per year. For an outage rate
of 0.5 per 100 km per year, the probability level that Figure 1 shows that each tower has four natural
would cause backflashover is 0.0833. electrodes, consisting of two anchors (for pairs of guy
wires) and two foundations. Each foundation (R11 and
2.3 Lightning Peak Current for Backflashover R22) is 2.4 m deep and an average of 0.7 m wide, giving
an area of 9.4 m2. The foundations are separated by
Normally, for calculations of transmission line lightning 13 m. The rock anchors (R33 and R44) have 3.3-m length,
performance, the peak magnitude of the first stroke in the 0.03-m width and 1.5-m square anchor plates at the
flash is of the greatest interest. The probability of a buried ends, giving a prism of area 12.2 m2. Rock
stroke current in excess of a value of I* kA is anchors are 13 m apart and 9.2 m from each foundation.
approximated from Bergers data [7] as [6]:

There are four important effects in transmission line R11 = R22 = 155 ; R33 = R44 = 131
grounding geometric resistance, contact resistance,
impulse impedance and ionization under lightning surge If the four natural electrodes were widely separated, their
conditions. The model for geometric resistance is parallel resistance for =1000 -m would be 35 . The
updated [4] to improve accuracy for an extremely wide effect of the mutual resistances among electrodes can also
range of electrode shapes. Models for contact resistance, be important. The mutual resistances Rmn of closely
impulse impedance and ionization must be placed into the buried spheres in uniform soil are:
context of a wide range of two-layer soil conditions.

3.1 Geometric and Contact Resistance Method Rmn (5)
4 d mn
There are several possible methods to solve for the
resistance of the resulting four-electrode geometry. The R13 = R14 = R23 = R24 = 8.7
simplest model [8,9] uses a geometric resistance Rg of the R12 = R34 = 6.1
overall shape, given approximately by:
A 4x4 matrix of self and mutual resistances is then solved
e 2 e s 2
(3) to give the electrode currents associated with a unit
Rg ln potential. In the case of Figure 1, the value for uniform
2 s A
1000 -m soil is R total = 41 .
e is the effective resistivity at the dimension s, -m 3.3 Galerkin (Variational) Method
s is the distance from the center of the electrode to its
outermost point, m Elsherbiny, Chow and Salama [10] extend a variational
A is the surface area of the overall electrode, m2 method initally used for capacitance calculations to the
purpose of calculating the resistance of multiple, closely
In this case, the distance s is 6.9 m, A is 173 m2 and, for coupled vertical ground rods in two-layer soil. They first
1000 -m effective resistivity, the geometric footing define a function f as:
resistance would be 36 .
f ( x ) x sinh 1 x 1 x 2 (6)
An accurate expression for a wide range of spheriod
shapes is given by Equation 3a, which relies on the three- The self resistances of electrodes of radius r, lower
dimensional distance g rather than maximum distance s : coordinate a and upper coordinate b is:

e 11.8 g 2 (3a) r ba
Rg ln R11 f r 1
2 g A 2 (b a ) 2

g is the rms electrode radius, g rx2 ry2 rz2 The mutual resistance term between vertical rods with
lower coordinates a1, a2, upper coordinates b1,b2 and
In cases where the electrode is approximated by a thin separation d is:
wire frame, there will be an additional contact resistance
calculated from the upper-layer resistivity 1 and the d
R12 R21
overall length of wire l: 4 (b2 a1 )(b1 a1 ) (8)
b2 a1 b b a a a b
Rc 1 (4)
l f d f 2 1 f 2 1 f 2 1
d d d
There is at least 24 m of wire in the ground, but the
broad dimensions of each of the eight main foundation Again, a simple matrix is solved using the more accurate
legs gives a much larger surface area. The contact variational expressions for the resistance terms. The self
resistance would thus be much less than 10 . resistances from Equation (7) with =1000 -m are:

3.2 Matrix Method R11 = R22 = 92 ; R33 = R44 = 245

The self resistances of each of the four tower electrodes The mutual resistances Rmn from Equation (8) are:
can be computed using Equation (3) or traditional R13 = R14 = R23 = R24 = 8.6
expressions for geometric shapes. R12 = R34 = 6.1

The 4x4 matrix of self and mutual resistances is then
solved to give the electrode currents associated with a
unit potential. In the case of Figure 1, the value for
uniform 1000 -m soil is R total = 37 .

The major strength of the Galerkin variational approach is

that it can be extended simply and accurately to model the
mutual resistance of rods that penetrate two different soil
layers. Treatment of the rock-anchor end plates with this
approach is more difficult.
Figure 4: Error in Equation 9, Empirical Calculation of Effective
3.4 Modeling of Two-Layer Soil Resistivity, compared to Elliptic Integral solution

For a set of one or more concentric ring electrodes buried 3.5 Modeling of Soil Ionization
in the upper of two soil layers, it is possible to compute
an effective resistivity value from the ring diameter r, the With large impulse currents, the local electric field
soil depth d, and the upper and lower resistivity values 1 gradient at the extremity of small electrodes can exceed
and 2 from: levels at which ionization will occur. For many types of
soil, the size and shape of the resulting corona envelope
1 can be estimated using a gradient of 300-400 kV/m. For
1 2 C 0.8
concentrated electrodes, the ionization increases the area
1.4 2 (9)
1 A and dimension s in Equation (3), leading to a reduction

in geometric resistance. For distributed electrodes, the
1 proportial increase in area is small, so the main effect of
1 2 C 0.8 0.5
r ionization is to reduce the contact resistance approx-
1.4 2 2
1 1 d imated by Equation (4).

2r Satisfactory tracking of the voltage-current relation of

1 C ionized electrodes can be obtained with the following
e 1 adaptation [9] of the Korsuncev similarity analysis:
1 C
sRg 1 2 es 2 1 I
1o ln 2
Figure 3 shows the results of this expression and Figure 4 1 2 A Eo s 2
shows the error, relative to an elliptic integral solution.
1 min 1o, 0.263 20.308 (10)

1 is the upper layer resistivity (near the electrode)
I is the current in kA
Eo is the ionization gradient of 400 kV/m
A, s, Rg and are as defined in Equation (3)

Using 1 =100 -m, s =7 m, A=173 m2 gives

and, with a typical value of Eo=400 kV/m, a current of
I >230 kA would be needed to initiate ionization of the
overall foundation to reduce the geometric resistance.
This can be neglected. The effect of ionization on the
contact resistance can be estimated by treating each of the
Figure 3: Ratio of Effective Resistivity to Upper Layer Resistivity as
function of ratio of Electrode Radius r to Upper Layer Depth d. four foundation elements independently. For the
Parameter: Lower to Upper Layer Resistivity, Corrected from [9 ] individual rock anchor s =3.3 m, A=12.1 m2 and
ionization will occur at 5 kA. In the case of high upper-
The error shown in Figure 4 remains within 6% for a layer resistivity, ionization will reduce the contact
wide range of resistivity and radius:depth ratios. As will resistance by a factor of three over the practical range of
be noted in Section 4, the errors in estimates of layer stroke currents.
resistivity and depth are more serious and a simplified
approach is appropriate.

3.6 Numerical Methods

It is possible to model the footings with a variety of

software modeling tools that automatically segment the
individual footing elements, calculate self and mutual
impedances and then solve for total resistance to remote
earth. In cases of rectangular or disc-shaped electrodes,
buried at moderate depth compared to extent, the
agreement between numerical models and the simplified
approach of 3.1 and 3.4 is usually better than 5%.

Figure 6: MF conductivty (in mS/m) for eastern Canada [11]
4.1 Radio Frequency Measurements
Each of these maps indicates that the south part of New
The World Atlas of Ground Conductivity [11] gives Brunswick, bordering on the USA state of Maine, has a
continental maps for the VLF part of the spectrum give conductivity of about 1 mS/m, corresponding to a
values of effective ground conductivity in mS/m and are resistivity =1000 -m. The complex nature of the
subject to the following conditions: geology in the region is more apparent in Figure 4
because the depth of penetration of the 1-MHZ signals
Application to frequencies up to 30 kHz (16 m into 1 mS/m) is smaller than at 30 kHz (91 m) and
No allowance for seasonal variations, most variation is found near the surface. The penetration
Calculated from physiographical and geological data depth can be calculated from:
used to define boundaries of the land
Represent effective ground conductivities for 1
propagation, including any effect of terrain
Figure 5 shows the values for New Brunswick and a Where f is the frequency, is 1.26 H/m and is the
separate figure in the appendix shows values for the conductivity in S/m. At frequencies below 1 MHz and
South American continent. conductivity above 0.1 mS/m, the effect of dielectric
permittivity can be ignored. It is important to recoginze
that the ground conductivity in areas like New
Brunswick, with folded or metamorphic geology, can
vary by four orders of magnitude over 10-30 m distance.

4.2 Wenner Probe Data

Figure 7 shows a series of Wenner-probe measurements

of resistivity for nine locations along two circuits of
345 kV transmission lines in New Brunswick.

Figure 5: VLF conductivity (in mS/m) for eastern Canada [11]

Figure 6 from [11] gives a detail of the map for Medium

Frequency (MF) of effective ground conductivity in
mS/m, standardized to 1 MHz. These maps are based on
proof of performance measurements for AM broadcast
antennas and other relevant information. They contain no
allowance for seasonal variations.
Figure 7: Wenner Probe Measurements from NB Power 345-kV
Transmssion Corridors (data courtesy Shore Acres Enterprises)

There is a wide range of apparent resistivity values at 4.3 Airborne Electromagnetic Measurements
small probe spacing. The readings for six of the nine
values are asymptotic to 1000 -m, corresponding Techniques for remote measurement of earth resistivity,
reasonably to the 30-kHz conductivity value (1 mS/m) using helicopters or small airplanes, have existed since
reported in Section 4.1. The apparent resistivity values the 1970s. These methods have proved to be increasingly
measured at probe spacing of 16 m and 32 m give useful in searches for buried mineral deposits, water or
reasonable estimates of the effective resistivity of other buried, electrically conductive anomalies. In the
electrodes with the same diameter, and this is seen in early 1990s, it was realized that the surface layer data,
Figure 8 as a large tower-to-tower variation. Traverse often discarded in processing, gave good estimates of the
data were taken in several directions (along and at right electrical resistivity of quaternary sediment over poorly
angles to the line direction), and the range in apparent conducting granite. The method was validated by the
resistivity values is shown at each site. Geological Survey of Canada and other groups using
borehole samples to establish depth and resistivity of the

In 2002, a field trial of electromagnetic survey methods

was carried out along the length of a pair of 345-kV
transmission lines. Five coplanar coils and one coaxial
coil were monitored for magnitude and phase at fixed
frequencies ranging from 400 Hz to 100 kHz. The
information content at the higher frequencies was
adequate to allow numerical inversion to obtain two-layer
resistivity with a physical resolution of better than 100 m.
Validation of the resistivity values was carried out using
conventional Wenner resistivity measurements at nine
Figure 8: Apparent Resistivity Values at 16-m and 32-m Probe Spacings
In spite of the interference from the transmission lines,
the helicopter-based electromagnetic survey provided a
It is reasonable to assume, based on the geology of high level of detail and accuracy that was well supported
eastern Canada, that there will be a highly variable layer by the ground results in a wide range of soil conditions.
of overburden above a deep underlying rock layer. For Table 2 shows the interpreted values from simultaneous
the survey area, the rock layer tends to be homogeneous measurements at five frequencies from a helicopter at the
on a distance scale of 10 km, where the product of same towers where Wenner resistivity surveys were
overburden thickness and resistivity can change by two carried out.
orders of magnitude on a distance scale of 100 m. This
assumption was used to model a common bottom-layer To make an engineering comparison of the differences
resistivity of 748 m for towers 316, 338, 355, 364, 368 between the two sets of resistivity data, Equation 9 was
and 371. Table 1 shows the upper and lower layer used to compute effective resistivity values e for values
resistivity values fitted to each of the sets of Wenner of r=7 m and r=20 m. Figure 9 shows the comparison on
probe data. log-log scales along with results of power-law regression.

Table 1: Best-Fit Two-Layer Interpretation of Wenner Resistivity Data Table 2: Best-Fit Two-Layer Interpretation of Airborne Resistivity Data


1 (m) 2 1 (m) 2
(-m) (-m) (-m) (-m)
3_316 2823 1.6 748 381.6 2.4 1106.5
3_320 1880 4.0 2857 1718.2 75 234.7
3_338 3735 39.9 748 7274.7 0 7274.7
3_342 14084 2.5 4137 4329.8 0 4159.6
3_355 2190 1.0 748 546.2 0 547.6
3_362 3820 3.8 7978 5342.3 0 2426
3_364 197 1.6 748 854.5 3.8 149.4
3_368 506 32.4 748 510.4 73.6 136
3_371 370 35.3 748 277.7 40.6 335.9

For Tower 342, the Wenner method shows the presence 5 DESIGN OPTIONS FOR GROUNDING
of a thin, high-resistivity layer that was missed by the
airborne method. In this case, both measurements gave With the large variation in soil resistivity, simplified
the same bottom-layer resistivity. Regressions between methods for analyzing the electrode performance and its
the data sets for both 7 m ane 20 m radius give nearly effect on lightning performance become important. A
linear exponents and high correlation coefficients. strong advantage of empirical methods, such as those
described in [1,2,4], is that they simplify a design process
to set the configuration and total wire length at each
tower to achieve a desired level of improvement.

5.1 Impedance of Electrode Configurations

Fourteen electrode configurations were considered, using

various combinations of electrically conductive concrete
(ECC), buried wire, surface wire and flat rolled steel.
The resistivity values obtained for nine towers were used
to estimate the footing resistances in each case using
some simplifications. Most electrode configurations
Figure 9: Comparison of Airborne Electromagnetic and Wenner-based approximated a 20x30 m rectangle, which would have a
Effective Resistivity Values for 7-m and 20-m disc electrodes
geometric resistance of 0.02 e, where e is the effective
resistivity of the two-layer soil for that diameter of
The tower-to-tower variation in resistance was computed
electrode. The contact resistance of the electrode with the
using the two-layer soil data from the airborne electro-
upper soil layer 1 was estimated separately.
magnetic survey, along with r=s=7 m in Equations 3, 4
and 9. Figure 10 shows the variation along two lines on
the same right of way in New Brunswick. Tower 3306 is Table 4: Resistance Estimates: Rectangle Loop Electrode Configurations
next to Tower 9018.
Tower Now Surface Buried Surface Surface Surface Surface
3003-1 3003-2 3003-3 3003-4 3003-5 3003-6
Contact 0.0163 0.0085 0.0231 0.0349 0.0142 0.0222
Geo- 0.0196 0.0196 0.0196 0.0229 0.0196 0.0196
Series L 0 3.5 3.5 3.5 1.7 1.7
3_316 234 60.5 42.1 83.4 119.1 56.4 79.1
3_320 263 86.5 75.4 103.0 134.6 84.4 99.5
3_338 298 75.3 49.8 104.5 150.9 69.3 99.3
3_342 1185 309.9 203.9 410.3 589.5 282.5 395.7
3_355 189 50.2 36.7 68.8 97.0 47.4 65.0
3_362 633 218.4 192.2 248.2 319.6 212.2 242.9
3_364 48 17.9 19.8 22.7 27.5 19.1 20.7
3_383 70 22.9 22.4 29.9 38.3 23.5 27.6
3_371 60 20.7 21.3 26.7 33.6 21.6 24.6

Generally, the use of radial slabs of an electrically-

conducting concrete (ECC), 0.5 m wide, set over surface
wires and covered with sufficient material to mitigate step
potentials, was thought to be effective at most of the
difficult towers. The ECC reduces the inductance and
contact resistance, making longer radial lengths more

Figure 10: Tower-to-Tower Variation in Foundation Footing Resistance

calculated from Airborne Resistivity Measurements

Table 5: Resistance Estimates: Radial ECC Electrodes on Surface options all provide a good reduction, with more
expensive options being more effective.
Tower Now Surface Surface Surface Surface
Concrete Concrete Concrete Concrete Table 7: Estimated Lightning Performance of 345-kV Transmission Line
4x16 6x16 2x16 8x16 Using Various Ground Electrode Treatments
Contact 0.0128 0.0091 0.0097 0.0071
Geo- 0.0145 0.0120 0.0079 0.0114 WIRE CONCRETE LIGHTNING
Series L 0 0 0 0 OPTION (0.5m wide) RATE
3_316 234 47.0 34.7 33.2 28.4 /100 km-year
3_320 263 65.5 51.4 40.8 45.9 None 0 0 1.21
3_338 298 58.7 43.0 42.0 34.9 Two concrete 108 m 48 m 0.77
3_342 1185 240.6 177.8 168.8 146.6 slabs, 4 wires
3_355 189 38.9 28.9 27.1 24.0 4 slabs, wires 86 m 96 m 0.60
3_362 633 164.7 130.5 100.1 118.2 Rolled steel loop 36 m 100 m 0.58
3_364 48 13.4 10.8 7.8 9.9
Electrically 74 m 74 m 0.48
3_383 70 17.3 13.6 10.8 12.1
3_371 60 15.6 12.3 9.5 11.2 Concrete (ECC)
4x16m Surface 64 m 0 0.48
The ECC electrode treatment uses about 7 kg per meter, Wire
depending on surface roughness, and the product costs Twin-wire Loop 236 m 0 0.46
about $Cdn 2/kg in small quantities. Considering the Buried Loop 118 m 0 0.38
rough terrain in New Brunswick, the (2x16m, 2x32m) 4x16m ECC 64 m 64 m 0.37
electrode cost estimated using $19/m for surface-installed 6x16m wire 96 m 0 0.36
ECC, would be $1800 and 700 kg per tower. Table 6 2x16m 2x32m 128 m 0 0.33
suggests, however, that a reduced treatment of 4x16 m wire
electrodes would be adequate for three of the nine towers. 8x16m wire 96 m 0 0.31
6x16m ECC 96 m 96 m 0.28
Table 6: Resistance Estimates: Radial Wire Electrodes on Surface 2x16 2x32m 96 m 96 m 0.24
Tower Now Surface Surface Surface Surface 8x16m ECC 128 m 128 m 0.23
Wire Wire Wire Wire
4x16 6x16 2x16 8x16
2x32 5.3 Different Treatments at Each Tower
Contact 0.01869 0.01366 0.01415 0.01077
Geo- 0.01450 0.01200 0.00792 0.01144 The dimension s in Equation 3 that gives a 20- footing
metric resistance was computed using the two-layer soil
Series L 2 1.33 2.66 1 resistivity measured with the Airborne Electromagnetic
3_316 234 65.6 48.9 48.5 39.9 method, along with Equations 4 and 9. This dimension
3_320 263 78.6 61.3 51.9 53.9
can be used to estimate the length of radial wire or
3_338 298 82.6 61.3 61.4 49.8
concrete needed at each tower. Figure 11 shows the
3_342 1185 325.2 243.4 234.7 199.9
3_355 189 53.8 40.2 39.6 33.1
required value of s for pairs of adjacent towers. Of the
3_362 633 189.1 149.3 119.9 133.4 132 towers shown, a total of 32 towers are satisfactory
3_364 48 16.5 13.0 11.4 11.7 with no treatment. The median treatment to 20 would
3_383 70 22.3 17.2 15.7 15.0 need s=19 m, which could be achieved with radial wires
3_371 60 19.8 15.4 13.8 13.5 of 12 m out from each of the four existing footings to a
ring of 19-m radius.
Section 5.3 develops the idea of specifying a different
treatment at every tower, based on the local resistivity.

5.2 Ranking of Electrodes

The resistance values computed from Section 5.1 were

used to estimate a composite lightning outage rate for the
NB Power 345-kV lines, using the assumption that the
rest of the line would have similar geology. Without
treatment, Table 7 shows that the estimated lightning
performance with the present grounding would be about
1.21 tripouts per 100 km per year. The various treatment
Figure 11: Value of dimension s for 20- Resistance

The scatter in Figure 11 reflects the observed changes in similar to those used to interpret Wenner resistivity data
resisitivity across the right of way at a tower separation of for multiple probe spacings.
approximately 50 m.

5.4 Alternatives to Grounding Improvement

One mitigation method, the use of additional underbuilt

ground wires, provides an upper limit to the cost that
would be supported by grounding improvements. Table 8
from [6] shows the large benefits for typical double-
circuit construction.
Table 8: Typical Performance Improvement through Addition of Single
Shield Wire, Located Under Existing Phase Conductors

Normal Lightning Outage Rate With

Voltage Class Outage Rate Underbuilt OPGW
115-kV 2-Circuit 7 / 100 km/year 1.8/100km/year
230-kV 2-Circuit 1 / 100 km/year 0.2/100km/year
500-kV 2-Circuit 0.3/100 km/year 0.05/100km/year

Figure 12: Three-Terminal Fall-of-Potentail Measurement Method

A trial calculation for the 345-kV line in Figure 1 shows
that a practical underbuilt ground wire would only 6.2 Testing Between Groundwires and Towers
improve the lightning performance by a factor of two.
Overhead groundwires are sometimes insulated from the
6 TESTING OPTIONS FOR TRANSMISSION LINE towers to minimize 1-MHz reradiation or to reduce
GROUND ELECTRODES induced-current loss. In these cases, two-terminal
resistance measurement between tower and overhead
Electrical utilities make frequent use of specialized four- groundwires can be effective, especially if temporary
terminal resistance meters, adapted for outdoor use and bond wires are applied at ajacent towers to form a low-
the range of resistances found in power systems. impedance return path. While it involves consderable
Resistance values in Figure 10 range from less than 10 work, temporary separation of the overhead groundwires
to more than 800 . Equipment capable of delivering from the tower (on insulators) is sometimes carried out to
accurate results over this wide range should be selected. enable accurate measurements in diagnostic campaigns.

6.1 Testing at Construction 6.3 Testing using Low Frequency at Tower Base

The most accurate measurements of footing resistance The configuration in Figure 12 is sometimes applied to
can be obtained after the towers have been erected, but transmission lines without insulating the overhead
before the overhead groundwires have been installed. In groundwires. In this case, the potential profile will show
this case, each tower is electrically isolated from its the same plateau in fact, the plateau will be flatter in the
neighbours and a standard fall-of-potential method can be range of 0.5-0.7D but the result will be wrong. The
used. With a four-terminal resistance meter, one potential measured ground electrode resistance will be the parallel
probe and one current probe are fixed to the tower. The combination of the electrode under test and the network
second current probe is driven at a distance D, with resistance of overhead groundwires and grounds
D>>s, the maximum electrode extent. The resistance is electrodes at adjacent towers. For a simple case with
then measured at probe distances of 50%, 55% 75% of two adjacent towers, the error is about 50%, falling to
D. In uniform soil with adequate distance D, the 46% if the profile is taken at right angles to the line. In
measured resistance will be relatively constant and will this case, it is better to take a detailed profile near the
approximate the resistance to remote earth, as shown in tower under test (for example in the distance range of
Figure 12. 0.05-0.2D) and to fit the results to an inverse-distance
Even with proper technique, including multiple potenial
probe locations and large spacing, the measured 6.4 Testing using Transient Injection at Tower Base
resistance may not have the broad plateau shown in
Figure 12. This is often an indication that the soil has Advances in portable instrumentation make it feasible to
multiple layers. There are specialized techniques that can carry out impulse injection tests on energized EHV
be adapted to interpret the measured resistance profile, transmission lines with power levels of less than 1 kW.

With a transient pulse measurement, the local electrode
can respond for a time of up to 2 s (the two-way span
travel time) before reflections from adjacent structures
contaminate the results. The impedances of the overhead
groundwires will appear in parallel with the footing under
test, but these are relatively high and easily calculated as

Z11 Z 22 60 ln (12) Figure 13: Instruments for Pulse Injection Testing on 345-kV Towers
The Avtech instrument shown in Figure 13 produces
d 200 V pulses into a 50 load. Figure 14 shows typical
Z12 Z 21 60 ln 12 waveforms from the NB Power 345-kV Tower 316. This
is a relatively representative tower with a bottom-layer
resistivity of 748 -m from the Wenner survey,
d12 is the distance between OHGW 1 and 2 and
confirmed with an airborne electromagnetic survey result
d12 distance from OHGW 1 to OHGW image 2
of 1100 -m for the bottom layer. At the time of
measurement, the tower had been treated with a buried
There are two OHGW in each direction for the line in
30-m wire loop in parallel with its four natural ground
Figure 1 at a tower height of 20 m, giving values of
Z11=475, Z12=84 and the parallel combination of all
four OHGW giving 140 . To first order, the measured
results are corrected using:
1 (13)
1 1

Rmeas 140

A technique using narrow pulse width, low duty cycle

and signal averaging, working against two orthogonal
electrodes, was used to compare the impulse impedance
of treated and untreated transmission towers for a wide
range of treatment options. Conclusions were then
formed about the relative cost and effectiveness of
practical surface electrodes.

The following instruments were used to carry out

measurements of injected current and source voltage for
buried copper wire and conductive concrete electrodes.

Fluke 123 oscilloscope

Pearson Model 110 current transformer, 35MHz,
sensitivity 0.1 V/A Figure 14: Injected Current (top) and Tower Voltage for Tower 316
10:1 Voltage Probe
Avtech AVL-S pulse generator with 50- series The pulse was applied between the tower base and the the
matching resistance and 100-nF capacitor centre lead of a 50- coaxial cable, oriented at right
Laptop computer angles to the right-of-way and grounded remotely at
60 m. Current into the tower was measured with a
Flukeview software and interface cable
wideband current transformer. The reference potential
Two, 60-m reels of 50- coaxial cable and ground
lead ran along the line, centered between the overhead
rods for voltage and current reference leads
groundwires. The 60-m leads were terminated at the
12-V to 117-V inverter and 12-V 17 A-h battery remote ends in ground rods. The 60-m lead length was
selected to ensure that reflections did not distort the
measurements during the 440-ns pulse application.

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6.5 Processing of Transient Injection Data 3_359 6x20m ECC 11.69 12.43 14.28
9_071 6x20m ECC 26.09 24.29 23.35
4x5m ECC +
The impedance ratio of tower base voltage to injected 3_362
30m loop
26.23 20.34 24.08
current in Figure 14 tends to be rather noisy at the signal 9_075 Untreated 63.36 64.31 59.22
rise and settles to a relatively constant value at the end of 3_364
2x5m ECC +
14.03 13.14 16.35
the 440-ns pulse. The initial oscillations are associated 15m loop
with transients propagating up and down the tower and 9_077 Untreated 40.43 37.18 34.56
2x5m ECC +
guy wires, eventually settling into a background 3_368
15m loop
10.42 8.92 6.41
parallel impedance of the four overhead groundwires, 9_081 Untreated 14.14 11.23 11.72
computed to be 140 . 3_371
30 m rolled
10.38 8.91 6.03
steel loop
9_084 Untreated 11.34 9.06 9.96
Four approaches were considered in the analysis. First, a
Fourier transform of the impedance was computed. This The non-physical values for Tower 3_337 may have
had considerable high frequency content that does not resulted from incorrect (open) wiring. For each pair, the
contributue to the task of estimating the impedance for improvement in impedance after treatment ranges from
lightning impulses. Three other approaches worked excellent (9_032 untreated versus 3_320 with 30-m
better. Either a 440-ns half-sine pulse (1.136 MHz) or a double loop) to mediocre (9_084 versus 3_371 in an area
quarter-sine pulse (568 kHz), matched to the excitation, of low resistivity). After applying the correction factor in
were used to filter the data. These windows reduced the Equation (13) for the parallel overhead groundwire
emphasis on the initial transient oscillations. Also, a impedance, it is also possible to compare the estimated
simple median impedance value, taken over the full resistance of the untreated towers (on the horizontal axis)
440 ns pulse time, gave a robust central value. There with the transient impedance estimates (on the vertical
were 110 samples at an interval of 4 ns in each waveform. axis) in Figure 15. While the numerical agreement
between the transient test results and the estimates from
6.6 Results of Transient Injection Measurements two-layer soil data needs refinement, the rank correlation
(r=0.7) of the data is significant.
At the time of measurement, the towers on one line had
been treated with various electrodes that had been
considered in Section 5.1. For reference, transient
injection tests were also carried out on some untreated
towers of the adjacent line. Table 9 provides a summary
of the interpreted impedances, using the three methods
described in Section 6.5.

The data in Table 9 are formatted to show the pairs of


Table 9: Transient Injection Results for Treated and Untreated Towers

Tower Half-Sine Quarter- Median

Number Treatment Impedance Sine Impedance
() Impedance ()
Figure 15: Comparison of Footing Resistance Estimate from Airborne
30 m loop:
3_316 13.70 11.89 12.22 Electromagnetic Data with Transient Injection Test Results
single wire
9_028 Untreated 53.18 58.17 51.60
30 m loop: 7 CONCLUSIONS
3_320 13.13 11.02 10.82
double wire
9_032 Untreated 80.77 60.10 55.88 Field measurements of resistivity were analyzed by
3_331 6x20m ECC 25.80 21.39 18.17
9_043 6x20m ECC 26.98 22.97 18.63
assuming a common bottom rock layer and variable
3_337 6x20m ECC -22.82 -20.46 -2.47 overburden. At six of nine locations, the fitted underlying
9_049 6x20m ECC 58.68 40.40 27.41 resistivity was 748 -m. The fitted upper-layer thickness
3_338 6x20m ECC 39.73 38.23 39.38 and conductivity values vary over a wide range of 1-30 m
9_050 Untreated 76.72 58.79 45.99
and 200-4000 -m. At the other three locations, uniform
30m loop:
single wire
55.91 48.65 33.22 resistivity of 3000, 4000 and 8000 -m fits the data better
9_054 Untreated 63.97 65.18 61.88 than a two-layer model.
3_355 6x20m ECC 50.88 49.45 43.79
9_067 Untreated 64.12 60.13 47.74 There was a high (0.82-0.85) regression coefficient
3_357 6x20m ECC 33.10 30.31 28.73
9_069 6x20m ECC 37.67 35.94 32.17
between the effective resistivity values computed from

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ground-based Wenner survey interpretation and from [3] R.E.Orville and G.R. Huffines, Cloud-to-Ground Lightning in
the United States: NLDN Results in the First Decade, 1989-98,
inversion results of multi-frequency helicopter-based
AMS Monthly Weather Review, May 2001.
electromagnetic surveys, measured near the operating
line. The airborne technique shows significant variation [4] H.J. Christian, R. J. Blakeslee, D.J. Boccippio, W.L. Boeck,
in resistivity along the line with a feature resolution of D.E. Buechler, K.T. Driscoll, S.J. Goodman, J.M. Hall,
better than 100 m. W.J. Koshak, D.M. Mach and M.F. Stewart, Global frequency
and distribution of lightning as observed from space by the
Optical Transient Detector, J. Geophys. Res., accepted, 2002.
Based on the 345-kV transmission line dimensions and
the measured values of resistivity, half of the towers will [5] Guide to Procedures for Estimating the Lightning Performance
have a footing resistance of more than 50 . With a of Transmission Lines, CIGRE Brochure 63, October 1991
ground flash density of 0.34 flashes per km2 per year, the [6] IEEE Guide for Improving the Lightning Performance of
expected lightning outage rate on NB Power 345-kV lines Overhead Transmission Lines, IEEE Standard 1243-1997,
would be 1.21 backflashovers per 100 km per year. December 1997

[7] K.Berger, R.B.Anderson and H. Kroninger, Parameters of

A quarter of the towers need no treatment, since they are Lightning Flashes, Electra, No. 41, pp 23-37, 1975
located in areas where the existing footings and rock
anchors will give less than 20 resistance based on the [8] W.A.Chisholm, Grounding for lighting and fault protection,
IV SIPDA: Conference, September 1997
AEM two-layer resistivity values. The remainder of the
towers can be treated with electrodes that increase the [9] W.A.Chisholm, Transmission System Transients Grounding,
extent and surface area in contact with the upper soil Chapter 10.7 of The Electric Power Engineering Handbook, ed.
layer. L.L.Grigsby, CRC/IEEE Press, ISBN 0-8493-8578-4, 2001

[10] M.M. Elsherbiny, Y.L. Chow and M.M.A. Salama, A Fast and
Electrically conductive concrete can be used to reduce the Accurate Analysis of Grounding Resistance of a Driven Rodbed
contact resistance and inductance of longer radial wires in a Two-Layer Soil, IEEE Trans. PWRD Vol.11 No.2,
but test results on thirteen configurations did not show a April 1996.
strong improvement in impulse impedance, compared to
[11] CCIR Recommendation 832, World Atlas of Ground
buried wire loops of the same size. Conductivities, 48pp, 1992 PDF version.

With the recommended treatments, a lightning tripout rate

of 0.24 outages per 100 km per year can be achieved in
spite of the difficult grounding conditions.

Portable, low-power instrumentation, including a pulse

generator and a digital oscilloscope, can be used to inject
400-mA transient currents into distributed or lumped
footings to measure their transient response. The
resulting potential rise can be monitored and interpreted
to give a quick go/no go indication of electrode
effectiveness under lightning impulse conditions.


The authors gratefully acknowledge the cooperation of

Shore Acres Enterprises in providing the resistivity data
and test electrodes.


[1] W. Janischewskyj, W.A. Chisholm and J. Beattie, Lightning

Ground Flash Density Measurements in Canada, January 1990 to
December 1996, Final Report for Canadian Electrical
Association Contract 179 T 382A, September 1998.

[2] W.R. Burrows, P. King, P.J. Lewis, B. Kochtubajda, B. Snyder,

V. Turcotte, Lightning Occurrence Patterns Over Canada and
Adjacent United States from Lightning Detection Network
Observations, Atmosphere Ocean 23 Aug 2001.

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