Top 3 Threats to Transformers

Qualitrol blog article top 3 threats power transformers

In the mainstream media, there are hundreds of articles about terrorism as it pertains to energy grids and plants in the U.S. and other countries. There’s no denying that physical and cyber-attacks are a real concern. But it’s important to remember that there are other threats that, while less nefarious, may be more dangerous to your commitment of providing reliable power.

Here’s a look at the top three, along with suggestions on how you can detect and correct them before problems escalate. 

  • Aging Infrastructure. According to the Department of Energy, 70 percent of transmission lines and transformers in the country are at least 25 years old. That represents trillions of dollars in hardware – equipment that’s not only expensive but highly inconvenient to replace. But, is every equipment behaving the same or going to last equally long as the peers?

The fix: Well-made equipment can run for multiple decades, if maintained “effectively” and not just “timely” Qualitrol offers modular, flexible transformer monitors that can be expanded as the need for detailed condition information increases. This allows effective maintenance planning with optimal upfront investment.

  • Solar, Wind and Distributed power. Most grid technology was built around large, single-source power-generation plants. The engineering leveraged a hub-and-spoke model of creation and distribution that still works but is being challenged by new sources and new thinking. Compared to traditional power plants, solar and wind can be highly inconsistent and therefore different to control and store.

The fix: If your organization is exploring or implementing grid extensions and solutions related to alternative energy sources, substations and storage, the more you know about the status of power generation, and the more feedback you get from all those disparate sources, the better. Power quality monitors and fault location monitors can be helpful as you move into new models. Even better, meet with a Qualitrol engineer to custom-design a monitoring strategy that matches your evolving grid requirements.

  • The Original Terrorists: Squirrels. Your transformers and other critical equipment may sit in plain view, guarded only by a chain-link fence, maybe a security camera. Not only is that an inviting target for human terrorists, it’s a “Come in, We’re Open” sign for squirrels. They not only chew lines but also get inside pretty much any piece of equipment. Fun fact: Squirrels cause more power outages than lightening!

The fix: In addition to inspecting and sealing every possible opening into your transformers, good monitoring will tell you when a four-legged vandal is compromising the technology. Power spikes, heat or outages can be spotted quickly and easily when an Intelligent Transformer Monitor is in place. Because, let’s face it, you didn’t get into this line of work only to be outsmarted by a squirrel. The value prop is quite weak here. ITMs are for monitoring trends not for telling that fault already occurred. What do the squirrels affect the most and how can we detect activity before impactful damage is done.

Whether you’re a municipal utility, a regional co-op, or a large IOU, compromised transformers are bad for business and the communities you serve. Count on the first name in power monitoring for the condition monitoring you need today and in the years ahead. Contact Qualitrol.


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