Keeping the Lights On: An Action Plan for America's Aging Utility Transformers

William H. Bartley, P.E., Hartford Steam Boiler

The United States is demanding more electrical power. At the same time, the age of transformers in the electric utility industry continues to rise. From a peak of new installations in the United States in the mid-1970s, today's capital spending on new and replacement transformers is at its lowest level in decades. To make matters worse, the load on each transformer (or its utilization) continues to grow. Power consumption is increasing at a rate of about 2 percent per year.The failure rate of transformers in the United States is expected to rise sharply in the coming years — even as America continues to demand more power. It's a serious problem that will affect power producers, insurers, industry, public institutions and the entire U.S. economy. How will utilities meet this growing need for energy and maintain system reliability? Utilities may have to make significant changes in the way they operate and care for their transformers. »more

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