USA, Missouri, St. Louis: In 2012, ABB developed a portable recovery power transformer called RecX which could be shipped to locations around the country to restore power supply quickly after a natural disaster or devastating cyberattack. The transformer has been developed in collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and it is one of a kind but it is awaiting approval.
The government is hindering the process because of disagreement about the cost sharing. The unresolved future of the ABB recovery transformer illustrates the dilemma confronting utilities and regulators who must justify investments to protect the grid against elusive threats with unpredictable consequences on top of already costly budgets to replace aging and obsolete grid infrastructure.
Although there are several programmes to stock spare power transformers, the existing spare transformers do not have adaptibility built into RecX models.
The prototype cost about $ 2.5 million for each of the three modules that would be assembled into a three-phase high-voltage transformer but the manufacturing costs for a number of the units haven not been set yet.The RecX transformer was installed at Houston's CenterPoint Energy in March 2012 and it is performing as designed.
"Government would like to take it a step further," said Craig Stiegemeier, ABB's business development and technology director. Some questions still remain: How many recovery transformers are needed? Where should they be located? Who owns them? Who maintains them?; so coordinated strategy is necessary.
Source: E&E Publishing