Protection of Electric Distribution Systems
In overhead electric transmission (high-tension) systems, one or two lighter gauge conductors may be mounted to the top of the pylons, poles, or towers not specifically used to send electricity through the grid. These conductors, often referred to "static", "pilot" or "shield" wires are designed to be the point of lightning termination instead of the high-voltage lines themselves. These conductors are intended to protect the primary power conductors from lightning strikes.
These conductors are bonded to earth either through the metal structure of a pole or tower, or by additional ground electrodes installed at regular intervals along the line. As a general rule, overhead power lines with voltages below 50 kV do not have a "static" conductor, but most lines carrying more than 50 kV do. The ground conductor cable may also support fibre optic cables for data transmission.
In some instances, these conductors are insulated from direct bonding with earth and may be used as low voltage communication lines. If the voltage exceeds a certain threshold, such as during a lightning termination to the conductor, it "jumps" the insulators and passes to earth.
Protection of electrical substations is as varied as lightning rods themselves, and is often proprietary to the electric company.
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