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Transformer Tuesday: How Annie the Asset Manager ensures reliable service for ABC Power customers

For the tenth installment of our “Transformer Tuesday” series we’re taking our dedicated readers along on a journey with Annie the Asset Manager from ABC Power as she discovers how to provide the stronger supporting evidence required to approve rate case changes.

Transformer Tuesday: Battling brain drain

This is the ninth installment of our 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.


Grid reliability requires thoughtful preventative maintenance and replacements of critical assets like substation transformers. With soaring retirement rates and a tough hiring market, many utilities are faced with making hard asset health decisions with limited time and historical knowledge.

Taking a step back

Take a minute to put yourself in the shoes of an asset manager.

You are responsible for creating multi-year asset plans to address grid infrastructure vulnerabilities and replacement strategies.

There are dozens of different pieces of equipment at each substation and knowing the performance and health of each asset is both an essential and ongoing challenge.

Utility Asset Manager

You, like many others on your team, rely on the expertise of long-standing experts in your company who have acquired years of insight into an asset. They can provide colorful context and guidance on what happened historically or how to interpret certain results.

Your most knowledgeable expert is set to retire at the end of the year. How will you transfer all the knowledge you don’t know? You don’t even know what you need to ask about certain assets!

To make the best use of your most valuable assets with years of knowledge, experience, and pattern recognition, you need a way to transfer that critical insight to the new workforce.

Navigating the realities of the times

With 50% of the utility workforce set to retire within the next 10 years, the electricity sector having difficulties hiring replacement personnel, and the vast amounts of experience and knowledge needed to have a deep understanding of asset performance and health, there is a potential looming threat to reliability efforts. 

Thoughtful data analysis can help to address reliability challenges caused by limited organizational knowledge of transformer health.

Pooling the shared knowledge and analysis of a single utility’s transformer fleet with the analysis of other utilities’ transformer fleets allows you to predict the future health condition multiple years in advance.

How thoughtful analysis helps to ensure reliability

VIA’s Global Data Asset Collaborative™ (GDAC™) has all of the above ingredients to make thoughtful and accessible analysis to ensure reliability!  

The web-based GDAC™ portal conveniently flags high risk transformers so that utility employees don’t have to manually aggregate and analyze data across multiple databases and reports.

The “Highest Risk Transformers” report flags transformers most at risk of failure.

With this insight, asset experts and strategic planners can filter and customize their searches on factors they are most interested in. Identifying early indicators of condition decline or trends in recent failures can be done in several clicks – giving utilities valuable time back when creating their asset management planning.

A transformer flagged for Dissolved Gas Analysis (DGA) concerns.

GDAC™ provides downloadable, visual reports so utilities can provide any supporting evidence to replacement recommendations, including private multi-utility benchmark comparisons. With this unique capability, utilities can see how the health of their individual transformers stack up against transformers owned by other utilities, like what you see below.

Want to expand your organization’s transformer knowledge base?

Reach out to me on LinkedIn or email sales@solvewithvia.com to set up some time to chat about how GDAC™ can help you plan for the future.

 

Transformer Tuesday: A Reflection of the 2022 Cooperative Technologies Conference & Expo

This is the eighth installment of our 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.


Last week, I traveled to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for the 2022 Cooperative Technologies Conference & Expo (CTCE) hosted by North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives.  

This trip was VIA’s first time attending CTCE. We were excited to have the opportunity to learn more about electric cooperative challenges and needs in the southeastern region of the United States. I also led a talk on how cooperatives can use data, data analytics, continuous collaboration, and planning to help them address threats to substation transformer reliability.

Coincidentally, I was pleased to hear that many of the key themes from my talk were also expressed in other presentations and panel discussions at CTCE as well.  

The Need to Collect and Analyze More Data
A topic near and dear to VIA, smarter and more consistent data collection, was one that was heard through the conference. Kicking off with the breakout session titled, “Predictive Maintenance for Resilience and Safety” included a case study of an electric cooperative that used Internet of Things (IoT) technology to curate data points that they could then use for analysis to ensure reliability and safety.

Speakers referenced the impacts that increased electricity demand and electric vehicles have on engineering and substation design. Cooperatives emphasized the use of data analytics to not only be more aware of where their power capacity currently stands, but to leverage the insights to meet future capacity demands.

The Need to Closely Collaborate
It became clear by midday that the need to collaborate was essential when solving current network challenges. To paraphrase one of the panel discussion speakers that illustrated the challenges of transitioning to a net-zero emission path, “the ensuing energy transition is a lot like rebuilding an airplane already flying in the air.”  

There will be plenty of uncertainty when tackling these challenges. However, panel speakers were clear that cooperatives need to work closely with their respective associations, members, employees, vendors, legislators, and system operators to ensure reliable and affordable electricity in the future.

The Need to Plan
Finally, the need to plan was an overarching point raised in several sessions. Planning comes with numerous challenges of its own, however. But, these skills are essential when cooperatives are required to think about expanding their power capacity to support new substation plan designs and the rapid adoption of electric vehicles in their regions.  

The GDAC™ Advantage
These themes are not only fundamental to ensuring grid reliability, but they all happen to be key ingredients in GDAC™. With GDAC™, individual utilities can use continuous collaboration to:

  • Overcome predictive analytics limitations due to limited quantities of data on hand
  • Accurately assess transformer health condition changes by learning from the experiences of other utilities 
  • Perform multi-utility benchmark comparisons to deepen their understanding of transformer health

GDAC™ helps utilities to better plan and take the appropriate course of action to provide reliable electricity service.

Overall, I’m excited to attend next year’s CTCE. Kudos to the North Carolina Electric Cooperatives and the speakers for providing such a wonderful learning experience for VIA!

Curious to learn more about the collaborative nature of GDAC?
Please reach out to me on LinkedIn or complete a contact us form on our website.

Transformer Tuesday: Accurately Prioritize Transformer Replacements with GDAC™

This is the seventh installment of our 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.


Electric utilities have a hard job. They have to ensure reliability to their customers in the midst of:

With constrained budgets, rising transformer costs, and longer lead times, how can utilities ensure they accurately prioritize the right transformer replacements now and in the future?

GDAC™ provides utilities with the tools needed to precisely prioritize transformer replacement 

There is a cost effective solution that provides utilities with insights into the current and projected health of transformers at a cost any utility can afford: VIA’s Global Data Asset Collaborative™ (GDAC™).  

GDAC™ provides a secure way for utilities to pool data about their transformers (including data from measurement tests like dissolved gas analysis, oil, and furan) without compromising data privacy. By pooling data from multiple utilities, the key differentiator of GDAC™, robust quantities of data are made available for artificial intelligence (AI) to train accurate models to predict transformer health 1-10 years in advance.  

GDAC™ leverages a completely transparent Condition Based Rating (CBR) system that is based on industry standards and was co-created and validated by our founding utility partners. This gives asset managers confidence in how the rating is created and helps make it easier to interpret what to do with the results.

All of these insights are made available to asset managers in one place, in the convenience of a web-based portal. Some example reports from the GDAC™ portal that our current members love:

Utilities can use the 10-Year Condition Forecast report for a bird’s eye view of their fleet’s health, compared to other GDAC™ partners.

For more actionable granularity, GDAC™’s Highest Risk Transformers page flags individual transformers that currently have issues and are forecasted to decline over the next 3 years.

Want to accurately assess your transformers current and future condition?
Send me a note on LinkedIn or email sales@solvewithvia.com to set up some time to chat and get a free analysis of your most at risk transformers.

Transformer Tuesday: Anticipating EV Charging Challenges Facing Transformers

This is the sixth installment of our 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.


For 50 years, substation transformers were built to run during the day and taper down at night to cool. Now, picture your neighborhood lined with electric vehicles (EVs). Once your neighbors end their workdays and don’t need to use their vehicles anymore, they plug their EVs in to “juice up”.

While this is convenient for EV drivers, this significantly increased demand for evening voltage places additional wear-and-tear on the electricity grid during times when transformers are used to cooling down. In this scenario, transformers stay running and can overheat or experience a malfunction (not unlike a car if you think about it).

According to a 2021 McKinsey report, U.S. EV sales increased by nearly 200% between the second quarter of 2020 and the second quarter 2021. This number is expected to rise as a result of $7.5 billion EV infrastructure funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Growing fleets of EVs will clearly require utilities to expand their power capacity, and therefore, optimize or add transformers to handle more intense power requirements throughout the day and evening. This leads to critical questions like: 

Which transformers should a utility repair, replace, or buy to add to their grids first?
Which units and future plans can wait?
How much will all of this cost?

Utility asset managers need to understand which transformers in their fleet are most at risk as EV penetration increases. VIA’s Global Data Asset Collaborative™ (GDAC™) can help.

Engaging with EV Stressors

Despite higher rates of EV adoption and challenges related to where and when EVs are being charged, utilities need to maintain the highest standards for electricity reliability and resiliency for their customers. GDAC™ identifies cases where transformers have unexpected declines in health condition, at an early age or in an area where previous transformer condition was consistent. These situations are good indicators to intervene sooner or review the assets in place.

Utilities analyze historical and forecasted transformer condition changes (e.g., downgrades) in locations where EV adoption is high. 

The GDAC™ portal conveniently flags high risk transformers for utilities so that they don’t have to parse through multiple databases, reports, and analyses, saving them invaluable time and effort. As a result, utilities can allocate resources to the transformers most in need, allowing them to work smarter.

As shown in the diagram to the left, utilities easily identify transformers in need of maintenance or replacement due to EV-related stressors. Utilities also glean insights from transformers located at the same substation experiencing similar EV stressors.

GDAC™ analyses like these help utility personnel with or without analysis experience to identify which transformers to repair, replace, or buy; which units and future plans can wait; and how much it will cost to address EV-related stressors.

Want to go for a ride with GDAC™?

Reach out to me via LinkedIn or email sales@solvewithvia.com to learn more about the ways GDAC™ can help you be prepared for EV-related stressors on your transformer fleet.

Transformer Tuesday: Using GDAC™ to Learn from a Trailblazing Utility

This is the fifth installment of our new blog series, “Transformer Tuesday,” brought to you today by VIA’s SVP, Strategic Initiatives, Joe Babiec. 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.


Last week’s Transformer Tuesday post by my colleague, Will Chapman, highlighted the way GDAC™ member utilities can learn from each other’s experiences. In particular, joining GDAC™ can help a utility prepare for challenges that they haven’t yet had to solve for or frequently experienced in their own transformer fleet. This shared knowledge not only helps utilities learn from each other, but can also help save on costly transformer failures.

This week, we want to highlight the value a specific GDAC™ member, Hawaiian Electric, brings to the entire collaborative. 

Hawaiian Electric is one of GDAC™’s founding member utilities. The company serves 95% of Hawaiʻi’s 1.4 million residents on the islands of Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi Island, Maui, Lānaʻi, and Molokaʻi.

Hawaiian Electric has been referred to in the industry as a “postcard from the future.” With very high levels of distributed solar penetration, they are rapidly transforming their grid to provide 100% renewable energy by 2045. Hawaiian Electric has already accumulated considerable experience dealing with a host of unprecedented challenges related to clean energy that many in the industry will not face for several years. Utility Dive recognized Hawaiian Electric’s trailblazing efforts and named the company “Utility of the Year.”

Hawaiian Electric has been contributing valuable insights on substation transformers to the collaborative since 2019. Having their experience included in GDAC™’s many benchmarks allows other utilities to better anticipate how their transformers might behave and how long they might last, as a result of accelerating clean energy technology adoption in their service areas.

In addition to enabling valuable benchmarking, Hawaiian Electric, like other GDAC™ members, is sharing their hard-won operational insights during VIA-hosted GDAC™ workshops. Topics often include fleet management practices, plans, and challenges, as well as the future GDAC™ enhancements that would provide the most value to all utilities.

Hawaiian Electric illustrated the value of the collaborative best themselves:

“Like most electric utilities, Hawaiian Electric does its best to maximize use of grid infrastructure, some of which are nearing the end of their practical use,” said Rick Pinkerton, Director, Asset Management at Hawaiian Electric. “As we modernize our grid, we’re always looking for ways to improve our decision making. We joined GDAC™ to learn from other members and from VIA’s expertise in AI and machine learning, to improve our capabilities to prudently manage the performance, risk, and cost of our fleet of substation transformers, and other T&D assets in general.”

If you would like to learn about how GDAC™ can help your utility to “future proof” by learning from the experience of trailblazing companies like Hawaiian Electric, reach out to me on LinkedIn or email sales@solvewithvia.com to set up some time to chat and get a free analysis of your most at risk transformers.

Transformer Tuesday: Be Better Prepared Through Collaboration

This is the fourth installment of our 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.


Careful readers of our Transformer Tuesday blog series learned last week how some electric utilities deal with the challenges of having limited amounts of data to train predictive models that can identify routine failures.

We tend to think of utilities as stable businesses operating in conditions that stay the same for long periods of time. But, for the first time in over a century, several forces are simultaneously changing things that were once stable in the electricity industry. Such changes include:

  • Fossil fuel vehicles being replaced by electric vehicles (EVs), thereby demanding more electricity capacity
  • Consumers becoming power producers through distributed energy resources, causing disruptions to the “traditional” flow of power
  • Growing amounts of extreme weather events causing wear-and-tear on essential grid equipment at quick rates
  • Increasing amounts of intermittent generation sources make it difficult to know when to use non-renewable generation sources

With these dynamics, one thing will still remain certain: ensuring reliability for customers.

Location plays an influential role in electricity dynamics. And, depending on the location of a utility, they may not have experienced some of the same stressors that utilities located in other places have, yet.  

With the above novel factors contributing to the degradation of essential grid infrastructure assets like substation transformers, electric utilities have turned to analytical tools to identify and forecast asset condition changes. 

Location, location, location, and, analytics!

Let’s frame up a scenario: Utility A is located in a jurisdiction where there aren’t many EVs on the road. Like other utilities, Utility A analyzes current and future condition changes of its substation transformers. However, with the limited amount of EVs it provides power to, Utility A’s analytical tools aren’t well acquainted with EVs and how they impact its assets.

To go back to location: what happens if Utility A’s jurisdiction implements attractive incentives to rapidly increase the adoption of EVs? What does this mean for Utility A’s ability to effectively analyze and forecast condition changes if it has no EV data to learn from?

Plain and simple: Utility A’s analytical tools can’t accurately identify and forecast transformers ailed by growing EV demands.

So, what can utilities learn from The Beatles?

Yes, you read that right, we’re going to learn from The Beatles. To paraphrase The Beatles, utilities can get by with a little help from their friends to acquire new knowledge of factors they aren’t familiar with in order to improve their analytical tools. In the scenario we outlined, Utility A can learn from other utilities located in places where EVs are pervasive.

VIA’s GDAC™ plays to the tune of The Beatles.

Preparing With Collaboration

GDAC™ provides a secure way for utilities to pool their experience without compromising data privacy and security. By pooling their transformer insights with GDAC™, utilities can expand their knowledge of condition changes caused by novel stressors more quickly and securely.  

With GDAC™, Utility A can be better prepared to anticipate transformer condition changes by using the analytical tools that have been informed by EV-related stress experienced by utilities B, C, and D.

This unique technology enables GDAC™ member utilities to apply sophisticated analysis to one another’s data without sharing copies.

Curious to learn more? 

Reach out to me on LinkedIn or email sales@solvewithvia.com to set up some time to chat and get a free analysis of your most at risk transformers.

Transformer Tuesday: Overcoming Barriers to Collaborative Learning

This is the third 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.


Aging electric grid components threaten the reliable, safe delivery of electricity. With substation transformer costs ranging anywhere from a few hundred thousand dollars to more than $5 million, the decision to replace these assets requires careful long-term capital investment planning. Unexpected transformer failures can upset those plans and requesting regulators to revise a utility’s rate case is not quick or guaranteed.

Here is an example of a situation that can arise when a transformer fails suddenly. If, say, Transformer 1 fails, a utility can decide to redeploy funds originally planned for the replacement of Transformer 2 into emergency purchasing of a brand new, Transformer 3. The result of this decision is that the utility needs to find a way to extend the lifespan of Transformer 2 since funds allocated to replace this transformer have gone to purchasing a new one.

So, how do utilities typically solve dilemmas like these and others?

Performing consistent maintenance is a sensible approach because aging transformers can have their lifespan extended, and it helps to defer replacement spending. To guide their maintenance work, utilities turn to predictive analytics to detect which transformers are at the greatest risk of failure. There are some helpful analytics that exist in the marketplace, however, there is a catch to predictive analytics: to be effective, they need a sufficient amount of data about transformers during normal periods of operation and leading up to faults and failure events.

Events like substation transformer failures don’t happen frequently (thankfully). But, utilities with too few failure events may not have a sufficient amount of transformer data on their own to train accurate predictive models, like Utility A on the left of the diagram below.

In principle, Utility A could address this challenge of data scarcity by exchanging data with other utilities so each utility has enough data to train and apply their predictive models and benchmarks, as shown on the chart to the right above. However, in practice, sharing sensitive operational data with other organizations presents serious privacy and security risks. Even if those risks are managed, utilities often keep their data in different or even incompatible formats. Utilities can find themselves needing so much time accessing and preparing data for analysis that they lack timely insights or have to abandon predictive analysis altogether.

VIA’s Global Data Asset Collaborative™ (GDAC™) overcomes these problems.

The Bridge to Predictive Insights

GDAC™ solves for each of the obstacles mentioned above: data scarcity, data privacy and security risks, and different data formats. With GDAC™, each utility retains complete control of its data and is able to connect to utility-controlled data locations. The collaborative does this by establishing a secure, privacy-protecting bridge between each company’s data and GDAC™ predictive analytics.

Leveraging GDAC™, utilities can prevent unanticipated transformer failures by:

  • Predicting the future lifespan of individual transformers 3 years in advance and transformer fleets 10 years in advance
  • Identifying the contributing factor(s) for health condition changes in order to take the appropriate course of action to extend the life of an asset
  • Comparing individual transformers against the collaborative benchmark to better inform maintenance and replacement planning

With GDAC™ (pictured above), utilities can forecast individual transformer health anywhere from 1 to 3 years in advance.

By using GDAC™, utilities share access to, not copies of, valuable transformer data and learn from the combined valuable experiences with faults and failures. This enables GDAC™ member utilities to reliably predict transformer failures and minimize unexpected replacement scenarios.

Want to expand your transformer knowledge base?

Reach out to me on LinkedIn or email sales@solvewithvia.com to set up some time to chat and get a free analysis of your most at risk transformers.

Transformer Tuesday: Adapting to Supply Chain Constraints using GDAC™

This is the second 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.


Electric utilities are not immune to supply chain disruptions

The COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted supply chain networks, caused shortages, and created long lead times for just about everything, including essential products. 

For electric utilities, essential pieces of equipment like substation transformers have been subject to shortages and lead time delays as far out as two years, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.  

NRECA CEO Jim Matheson described the broader implications of the current circumstances: 

Shortages of transformers pose a risk to normal electric grid operations as well as recovery efforts for systems disrupted by a natural disaster”.

Supply chain disruptions are forcing utilities to defer both planned replacements of aging assets as well as new additions to increase grid capacity. Longer lead times for transformers and spare parts are making electric grids less resilient to unplanned outages. All together, these supply chain impacts increase the risks to electricity reliability, safety, and customer expectations for normal grid operations.

With transformer availability so unpredictable, utilities must have an accurate understanding of the condition of each transformer currently in its fleet in order to develop a customized strategy for maximizing each transformer’s lifespan.

How do utilities estimate the lifespan of existing transformers?

Historically, substation transformers have been replaced as their life cycle ends. To determine the end of a transformer’s life cycle, some utilities look at factors such as age, historical durability, and manufacturer.  

However, these factors alone don’t always provide a complete picture to accurately forecast the lifespan. For example, what if an older transformer outlives a younger transformer that unexpectedly fails? What does this mean for replacement planning?

In these volatile times, it’s vital to know the real health of these assets. The graphic below (from the GDAC™ member portal), shows that using age alone isn’t a strong predictor of lifespan, but also that using GDAC™, members can:

  • Use new industry standards-based tools to accurately assess current condition, which may vary widely from what age or age-based averages might suggest
  • Leverage privacy-protected benchmarking against the data of other members and machine learning tools to confidently predict the remaining lifespan of each transformer individually and take into account different future operational scenarios

GDAC

GDAC™’s Transformer Age and Condition Benchmark allows utilities to assess how individual transformers in their fleet compare to other utilities’ in terms of typical age and the same Condition Based Rating (CBR).

Manage supply chain constraints using GDAC™

GDAC™ provides greater clarity on transformer health by:

  • Analyzing the current health condition of transformers
  • Predicting the future lifespan of individual transformers 3 years in advance and transformer fleets 10 years in advance
  • Identifying the contributing factor(s) for health condition changes in order to take the appropriate course of action to extend asset life

With GDAC™, utilities can better navigate transformer shortages and shipping delays by: 

  • Deferring replacements through maintenance work to improve transformer health condition
  • Preventing unanticipated transformer failures
  • Optimizing spares allocations in locations most needed

Curious to learn more? 

Connect with me on LinkedIn or email sales@solvewithvia.com to set up some time to chat and get a free analysis of which transformers you can extend the life of.

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 sales@solvewithvia.com 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.

Transformative Experiences at GDAC™ Virtual Mini-Series Session #2

VIA had a record attendance of nearly 30 participants at the second installment of its GDAC™ Virtual Mini-Series this week. The session included customers from the US, Asia, and New Zealand and participants located in four different time zones, all eager to share their strategy and asset management experience for substation transformers.

The highlight of the event was the GDAC™ member panel led by Cristiano Marantes, Chief Executive of Ara Ake, an organization that connects technology innovation with energy industry leaders to lower emissions in New Zealand. The panel covered questions related to: 

  1. Insights about post-failure analysis of transformers
  2. Value from GDAC™ member gas benchmarks
  3. Business cases supported by the GDAC™ member portal
  4. Future equipment data to include in the GDAC™ program

Kate Ravanis, COO, remarked that “it was highly reaffirming to hear that the GDAC™ portal, launched earlier this year, was already being used to save time (one “person month” in one case) to prepare asset management plans and rate case materials.” 

This was one of many comments by participants in addition to the engineering and maintenance insights that were shared over the 90-minute session.

VIA is thrilled with the response to the mini-series and will continue hosting member (and potential member) events in the future.

To learn more about the GDAC™ program or to try out the 30-Minute Pilot, visit our website.

Hawaiian Electric Extends Commitment to GDAC™: Substation Transformers

VIA and Hawaiian Electric are pleased to share that Hawaiian Electric has extended its commitment to the Global Data Asset Collaborative™ (GDAC™): Substation Transformers. By extending and expanding its commitment to GDAC™, Hawaiian Electric hopes to further improve decision making and regulatory support related to its transformer fleet. In its second year, Hawaiian Electric plans to use GDAC™ to more effectively assess the current and predicted health of its transformers to better plan and prioritize proactive replacements, strengthen spares assessment and contingency planning, and identify opportunities to further enhance its substation transformer preventive maintenance.

Hawaiian Electric recognized that GDAC™, from its founding, has the potential to develop new insights and enhance its current predictive capabilities by using advanced data science and analytics to learn from Hawaiian Electric’s and partner utilities’ historical transformer condition and failure data. Since then, in 2019, Hawaiian Electric helped increase GDAC™ membership by including its Maui County and Hawaiʻi Island operating areas, to expand analysis from more than 300 substation transformers on Oʻahu to 500-plus across Maui, Lānaʻi, Molokaʻi, and Hawaiʻi Island.

“Hawaiian Electric has in the past performed various types of predictive analytics to forecast annual failures, determine adequate spares inventory, and estimate expected remaining life for our substation transformers. We joined GDAC™ to enhance our capabilities by learning from other members and learning more about the application of artificial intelligence and machine learning,” said Rick Pinkerton, Hawaiian Electric director of asset planning & strategy.

“We’re thrilled that Hawaiian Electric has extended its GDAC™ membership. At the end of last year, Hawaiian Electric was named “Utility of the Year” by Utility Dive for being a trailblazer in the industry and for its commitment to 100% clean energy by 2045 or earlier. Having the support of such an innovative and driven company can only help lead the entire utility industry to a more data-driven future,” said Kristen Merrill, VIA’s Vice President, Client Delivery.

Hawaiian Electric is supporting the recruitment of other members to join GDAC™: Substation Transformers to bolster predictive capabilities, gain more insights about their fleet, and to share practices and expertise.

About VIA

VIA helps governments, regulators, and power companies deliver $200Bn in energy every year to more than 100 million customers. VIA’s privacy-preserving analytics software, Trusted Analytics Chain™ (TAC™) reduces the cost and improves the quality of service of electricity transmission and distribution using AI and blockchain technologies. TAC™ (patents pending) is the bridge that securely connects power company data, distributed across many locations, to potential AI solutions. VIA established the Global Data Asset Collaborative™ (GDAC™), built on top of TAC™, to allow multiple companies to securely pool data for more accurate analytics. Headquartered in Somerville, Massachusetts, VIA has received an InnovateMass grant from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and has been featured in Wired and Inc. Magazine for its leadership in technology innovation. For more information, please visit www.solvewithvia.com.

About Hawaiian Electric

Hawaiian Electric serves 95 percent of Hawaiʻi’s 1.4 million residents on the islands of Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi Island, Maui, Lānaʻi and Molokaʻi, and has a goal of 100 percent renewables by 2045.

VIA Hosts First Installment of GDAC™ Virtual Mini-Series

Last week, VIA was proud to host the first session of its GDAC™ Virtual Mini-Series. The event was invite-only and had over 20 participants including members from founding utilities, Hawaiian Electric and Vector. 

VIA advisor and former ABB executive, Andrew Bright gave a keynote presentation on two topics: physical resiliency trends for power transformers and trends in sensors. 

In addition to Andrew’s keynote, VIA presented “GDAC™ By The Numbers” (click image below) that covered quick stats on data, equipment, portal enhancements, and more for members.

Given the success of this first event, VIA hopes to continue the series and open it up to external participants to allow for a better understanding of GDAC™’s value. If you are interested in learning more about GDAC™, please email gdac@solvewithvia.com.

GDAC™ Ability to Increase ROI for Utilities Featured in T&D World

The article published by T&D World “Global Data Asset Collaborative to Increase ROI for Utilities” discusses changes to the energy landscape and how “many utilities recognize that the challenge of maintaining grid reliability is now greater than any single company is able to solve on its own.”

VIA’s Global Data Asset Collaborative™ (GDAC™) was established in early 2019 to allow multiple companies to securely pool data for more accurate analytics. The benefits of GDAC™ are featured in the article:

Both utilities and regulators benefit from GDAC™. For utilities, what VIA has found is that by protecting the data of each company, the data issues become easier and the focus of analytics efforts returns to the analysis (not restrictions to sharing the data). The impact on members who take this collaborative approach is that they end up with greatly improved analytics. For example, members get benchmarks of their equipment condition and maintenance routines in a more real-time and customized manner. They also get the benefit of learning from issues that others have had rather than just issues that they have seen — this leads to earlier warnings about equipment. And finally, as an economic impact, GDAC™ members have been seeing fewer corrective maintenance callouts, better planning for spares and inventory, and faster and simpler preparation for rate cases.

For the full article, visit the T&D World website.

 

Value of AI for GDAC™ Utility Members Mentioned in Utility Dive

VIA’s Colin Gounden was interviewed, among a number of analytics and utilities experts, for the Utility Dive article “In the ‘cat and mouse game’ of utility cyberattacks, AI and machine learning show promise, limits.” 

The article talks about ways AI and machine learning can help protect utilities and its customers from cyber attacks, while also using data to improve service to customers. Colin talks about how GDAC™ utility members are seeing value in AI:

“This is a whole new game for utilities,” Colin Gounden, CEO of data specialist VIA agreed. “They are increasingly interested in how AI algorithms and deep learning can automate the protection of customer information, the optimization and balancing of the grid, and the finding of efficiencies in the details of customer usage,” he told Utility Dive. “But AI requires access, particularly to data.”

Both [AI and ML] require an enormous amount of data, but it can be protected the same way email is scanned for spam by an AI algorithm “because it is too big a dataset for a person,” Gounden said.

For more quotes from Colin and the full article, visit the Utility Dive website.