This article presents a fault identification technique that makes use of the empirical mode decomposition of three-phase current signals of a distribution network. The current signals measured at the substation bus over a moving window are decomposed to obtain the first-level intrinsic mode function and residue. The standard deviation of the first-level residue is calculated as a fault index for each phase and compared with a threshold to detect and categorize the type of fault. A ground fault index based on the average value of the first-level residue of the neutral current is proposed to discriminate the phase-phase and phase-phase-ground faults. The proposed algorithm has been successfully tested on the IEEE 13 bus and 34 bus distribution systems in the presence of the solar photovoltaic power plant by varying the type of fault, fault incidence angle, and fault location in the presence of noise. The selectivity of the proposed algorithm has been established by testing the algorithm with nonfaulty transients such as transformer excitation and deexcitation, feeder energization and deenergization, load switching, capacitor switching, and also those associated with distributed generation (DG) penetration like islanding and tripping of DG. Subsequently, the residue-based features are fed to a decision tree to locate the faults on the distribution system. Thus, the proposed algorithm has been successful in detecting, classifying, and locating faults with DG penetration in the presence of noise within half cycle by utilizing only current signals. © 1972-2012 IEEE.