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The icing flashover characteristics and discharge processes of 500 kV ac transmission line long insulator strings energized in the ice accretion were studied. The influence of pollution and grading rings (including simulated conductor) on heavy ice-covered insulatorsÂ¿ flashover voltage were considered in this paper. Based on the artificial icing test results, it was found that 1) under the severe icing conditions and three salt deposit density (SDD) levels of PSDD=0.1, 0.05, 0.025 mg/cm2, compared with 500 kV transmission line rated phase to ground voltage, the flashover voltages of 28 units XWP2-160 porcelain double-shed insulator are 20.5% lower, 13.1% lower and 2.3% higher respectively; and the values of the FXBW4-500/160 composite insulator are 18.7% lower, 12.0% lower and 4.3% higher respectively. 2) equipped with the given grading ring and simulated conductor the icing flashover stress of 28 units XWP2-160 is lower than those without grading ring and simulated conductor under the three pollution degrees. The discharge process of the icing flashover and relevant factors were investigated also, which shows that 1) the locations of the air gaps on icing insulators are not completely random. 2) arcs on long insulator strings require more time to reach a critical length, hence, the arc propagation might be easily influenced by the decreasing of melted water conductivity and ice shedding than short insulator strings.