Substation Transformer Maintenance

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5 ways to extend the life of your electrical equipment

BY ROBERT RASOR, PE, SD Myers, Inc.

Substation transformer maintenance has experienced changes over recent years. These changes are a result of a continued growth in overall technical knowledge and growing technologies such as online monitors, but not all market segments are affected equally. In the current economic conditions, the need for a well-planned and comprehensive strategy for substation transformer maintenance is even more important than in the past.

There are several noteworthy factors responsible for the ongoing challenges of implementing best practices in substation transformer testing and maintenance including the aging population of transformers and ancillary equipment such as circuit-switchers, bushings, reactors, circuit breakers and insulators; the accelerated retirements of transformer experts, coupled with the lack of experience and specialized transformer maintenance skills in the next generation of electrical engineers; and, short-term planning and cash flow considerations taking precedence over long-term planning and capital investment of substation equipment. In other words, we have seen budgets cut and maintenance programs reduced.

Although many substations have benefitted from new technological advancements in testing and maintenance, many technological drawbacks and “not-so-best” practices still exist.

Have transformer testing and maintenance standards and procedures adapted to accommodate the changes in transformers and ancillary equipment at substations? It’s a work in progress, but by being aware of some of the “best” and “not-so-best” practices and attributes of electrical equipment testing and maintenance, effectiveness on the job can be raised.

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