LOS ANGELES (AP) — A new technology being tested by California utilities is aimed at diagnosing problems before they can cause power outages or spark wildfires.

The technology invented by researchers at Texas A&M University was designed to provide greater reliability for utility customers, but its biggest selling point could be its use in preventing disasters.

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Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and Southern California Edison have been testing the software billed as a one-of-a kind diagnostic tool called Distribution Fault Anticipation.

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Professor B. Don Russell, who invented the technology, said the software detects problems on power lines long before they occur and could be used to determine when to shut off electricity to prevent a fire from starting in high winds.

Utilities in California have been blamed for several of the deadliest and most destructive fires.

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