Dominion Virginia Power upgrading thousands of transformers

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Richmond, Va., July 25, 2011 – Dominion Virginia Power has launched a $20 million program to pro-actively replace older electric transformers before they experience problems, thus assuring higher reliability for thousands of customers.

More than 700 transformers have been replaced so far in residential areas of Northern Virginia, Central Virginia and the Hampton Roads area as part of the company’s ongoing efforts to maintain and improve service reliability.

An additional 1,400 transformers will be replaced in Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Norfolk, Hampton, Alexandria, Springfield and Richmond.

The “Neighborhood Transformer Replacement Program” is one of several major efforts the company has underway to enhance reliability. Over the next two years, the company plans to spend more than $1.7 billion on its reliability programs.

With the neighborhood transformer program, the company is focusing on older, overhead transformers that are at risk of failing, mainly due to overloading. Transformers function on the electric grid to step down higher voltage electricity to the level needed for use in households or businesses.

With 2.4 million customers and hundreds of thousands of transformers on its system, the challenge is to correctly identify and replace in advance those at-risk transformers, thus reducing the possibility of an unplanned customer outage.

Transformers typically serve from one to 15 customers. Those being replaced as part of this program are typically being upgraded 50 percent to 100 percent in capacity.

To identify those particular transformers, company technicians use electricity usage data to analyze loads on individual transformers and then double-check by going to the actual field locations to verify the information. If a replacement is needed, a brief outage is scheduled. Customers are notified in advance by phone or by work crews.

Most of the transformer replacements are occurring in older neighborhoods where over the years customers have increased their electricity usage through additions or adding more lighting, heating or air conditioning, or simply plugging in more computers, large-screen TV’s and other digital technology.

The company expects to complete the $20 million program next year.

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The Clarion Energy Content Team is made up of editors from various publications, including POWERGRID International, Power Engineering, Renewable Energy World, Hydro Review, Smart Energy International, and Power Engineering International. Contact the content lead for this publication at

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