Transformer Tuesday: Tackling Inflationary Costs with GDAC™

This is the first installment of our new blog series, “Transformer Tuesday,” brought to you by VIA’s Will Chapman. In this series, we’ll address how leading utilities use VIA’s GDAC™ solution to manage their substation transformers with greater ease, insight, and cost effectiveness.

Inflation is adding sudden, extreme pressure on utilities

Inflation is understandably a hot-button issue today in the electric industry. With little warning, generation sources doubled in cost, labor costs increased, and prices for some essential grid equipment increased sharply by 40%.

Cost increases from inflation aren’t the only pressures utilities are experiencing. Utility budgets are under strain. Maintaining reliable service for customers has caused utilities to increase spending in operations and maintenance. And, more recently, many utilities have accelerated capital expenditures to replace aging assets and embrace clean energy technologies. 

Given this environment, electric utilities face an urgent dilemma: how to manage unexpected cost pressures while having very limited financial flexibility.  

How can utilities address these cost pressures?

Regulators may allow utilities to pass along some of these costs to customers. But, more often than not, many utilities must meet their customers’ needs and achieve their business objectives with the resources at hand.

To find savings and offset rising costs, utilities we speak with are trying harder than ever to optimize maintenance, repair, and replacement spending. They are deferring routine, but non-essential maintenance or replacing assets now to reduce total future spending.

To make these decisions pay off, utilities must know the true health condition of their assets and project accurately how they will change in the future. That’s not easy. That’s also where VIA can help. 

Leveraging VIA’s Global Data Asset Collaborative™ (GDAC™) to fight inflationary cost pressures

To develop reliable insights about critical assets like substation transformers, utilities need two ingredients: the right tools to analyze enough of the right data.

Most utilities have challenges related to their data: they have limited data samples or restrictions on sharing data, both of which make it exceptionally difficult to develop statistically meaningful analysis about transformer health or condition. GDAC™ partners are able to benefit from analysis done across the entire collaborative, all while keeping it secure and confidential.

Using the insights from GDAC™, utilities can:

  • Shift focus on the transformers with an actual need of replacement (increasing reliability and safety)
  • Send their asset management crews to transformer locations identified as in actual need of maintenance, thereby saving operational costs and time
  • Identify and mitigate the impact of future stresses on transformers
  • Extend the lifecycle of an asset, which ultimately frees up dollars for other capital projects such as the transition to clean energy technology
  • Offset sunk costs as utilities decommission non-renewable energy assets

GDAC™ can provide these and other inflation-fighting benefits while keeping each utility’s data separate, secure, and privacy protected at all times. As a GDAC™ member, utilities make their substation transformer assets “go farther”, while ensuring greater reliability and safety.

Using the GDAC™ portal (pictured above), utilities precisely identify transformers in actual need of critical dollars.

Want to learn more? 

Please reach out to me on LinkedIn or email to set up some time to chat and get a free analysis of which transformers in your fleet are most at risk of serious faults or failure.