We analytically model single-, two-, and three-wires above ground to determine the decay lengths of common and differential modes induced by an E1 high-altitude electromagnetic pulse (HEMP) excitation. Decay length information is pivotal to determine whether any two nodes in the power grid may be treated as uncoupled. We employ a frequency-domain method based on transmission line theory named ATLOG - Analytic Transmission Line Over Ground to model infinitely long and finite single wires, as well as solve the eigenvalue problem of a single-, two-, and three-wire system. Our calculations show that a single, semi-infinite power line can be approximated by a 10 km section of line and that the second electrical reflection for all line lengths longer than the decay length are below half the rated operating voltage. Furthermore, our results show that the differential mode propagates longer distances than the common mode in two- and three-wire systems, and this should be taken into account when performing damage assessment from HEMP excitation. This analysis is a significant step toward simplifying the modeling of practical continental grid lengths, yet maintaining accuracy, a result of enormous impact.
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