Power Transformers – ‘built to last’

A 100 MVA unit is 68 years young and still running strong

The experience, technology and best practices of the many legacy transformer manufacturers acquired by ABB over the years as well as continued investment and innovation have resulted in a single business built on common platforms, making ABB the world leader in reliable power transformer technology.

Reliability matters, because an unplanned outage can cost a utility up to six times the initial cost of a transformer. Reliability starts with a good design, and ABB engineers use a common design standard that incorporates more than 700 years of combined experience in power transformer engineering.

Recently, when asked to describe in one sentence the value proposition of an ABB power transformer. I simply said…“ABB power transformers are built to last.”

Some proof points that bear out the claim:

  • industry-leading mean time between failures (MTBF) rate
  • design longevity, from a combined 700 years of experience
  • short circuit design pass rates well above industry standards

For units installed in North America alone, ABB`s MTBF is more than 16,000 years.

ABB transformers have a proven global track record, a huge installed base and a long history of technical innovation. This was borne out by a recent ‘Built to Last’ contest organized in North America – a hunt for vintage transformers above 80 megavolt ampere (MVA) that are still in operation.

The power transformer we found with the longest active service record was a 1945 100 MVA unit deployed by PECO, an electric and natural gas subsidiary of Exelon Corporation based in Philadelphia, PA. The unit is 68 years young and still running strong!

We also found a 1951 vintage, 75 MVA unit being operated by CenterPoint Energy and a 1954 (80 MVA) single phase auto transformer with Bonneville Power Administration. All three legacy units were manufactured by Westinghouse.  As a matter of interest during the competition we also found functioning units at lower ratings that had been in service even longer than the PECO unit. Now if that’s not ’built to last’ what is?

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About the author

Scott Curley

I lead the Demand Side Operations for ABB's power transformer business in North America, including strategic partnerships, marketing, engineering, project management and transportation of Power transformers. I've worked at ABB for over 20 years and have lived in the USA, UK and Australia.
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