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 to set up some time to chat and get a free analysis of your most at risk transformers.