At Virginia Transformer we ensure there is reliable power for all users of electricity across the U.S. And we also enable job creation and manufacturing in the U.S. through our supply of transformers to customers. Without transformers, there are no new plants to make cars, batteries, steel, data centers, hydrogen fuel replacements, and thousands of other products.
Versant Power in Bangor, Maine, the state’s 2nd largest utility covering more than 10,000 square miles in northern and eastern Maine, is a recent example. Last month they powered-up a new transformer for the University of Maine to help the university manage their growth, including the addition of a new on-campus, indoor athletic facility that will host concerts, events and university athletic programs.
Versant also turned to Virginia Transformer to help replace the oldest transformer in their fleet – 73 years old – last week.
Versant’s not alone in looking to upgrade aging infrastructure. Approximately 70 percent of all transformers on the U.S. electrical grid are older than 25 and the average transformer is approximately 40 years old.
We can be proud of the work we do to ensure the country has reliable power and that as we do that, we also are playing an important role in creating jobs across the country. See two stories below on the work we’ve done with Versant Power.
Versant Power’s Oldest Transformer is Replaced
Over the past few months, Versant crews have been upgrading the Ellsworth Falls substation with new equipment. Work involved replacing the oldest transformer in Versant’s fleet, a 73-year-old transformer that was removed this spring and replaced with a modern one. The new transformer went into commission last week.
“The upgrade ensures more reliable service to over 9,000 customers through Ellsworth, Deer Isle, Brooklin, Blue Hill, Surry and Brooksville,” said Versant’s Chief Operating Officer Paul Miller, “Customers receiving power from this substation are now also connected to the Boggy Brook substation in Ellsworth, which can serve as a back-up power source in the event that service is interrupted.”
After the aged transformer was removed, the existing concrete below it was repurposed, and the surrounding area was prepped for a new device. Work included digging and installing two identical series of conduits for protection, an ‘A’ option and ‘B’ contingency option for increased reliability.
Later this year, further improvements are planned for the Ellsworth Falls substation. A circuit switch will be replaced with a more modern circuit breaker for advanced protection. Both projects allow for upgraded technology that will help the Versant team monitor equipment and controls and respond to outages sooner. Work at the substation is expected to be completed by spring 2024.
Versant Power Energizes New Transformer at UMaine to Facilitate Load Growth
On May 31, Versant Power crews energized a new transformer at the University of Maine’s east substation. The transformer, which crews have been working to install since early January, will facilitate load growth and reliability, ensuring new campus infrastructure can be carried on the campus electrical system.
Additional work is planned for late 2023 to upgrade the protection and controls at the substation. Two new breakers, which have faster response times when issues arise, will replace motor operators. These breakers will allow crews to sectionalize line faster, shorten the duration of outages, and provide additional protection for the new transformer.
“This has been a joint effort with the university and will provide much-needed upgrades to their system,” said Kevin Worster, Power Systems Technical Supervisor. “Most importantly, these upgrades will benefit the students at UMaine.”
“We don’t know what we’ll have for technology in 20 years, but we do know we can expect growth based on labs, classrooms, and things of that nature. We want to be sure we have adequate capacity, so we don’t have to do even more work in 10 years,” said Blaine Williams, Facilities Electrical Engineer at the University of Maine. “It’s a major investment, but because of the age of the equipment, it’s necessary. This ensures students have power to charge phones and laptops, have internet connectivity, and keep their day-to-day life stable.”
Williams also mentioned the importance of reliability due to research conducted on campus and in the event of storms.
“Think of assets on campus such as the 3D printer,” Williams said. “What happens is if they lose power halfway through one of their printing processes? These upgrades benefit research by ensuring reliable power. This transformer will also help reliability during storms as well since failure of insulators and any other components are unlikely due to being new and improved materials.”
The university-owned portion of the electrical system includes everything from the transformer out to the campus. Versant Power owns the system from the transformer back into the grid. Versant Power is a partner of the university for projects such as this, lending expertise for necessary work to their system when required. Line 7, a Versant Power asset, runs through the substation where the new transformer was installed.
Versant Power will also be working this year on the university’s west substation to upgrade switch gear, which is currently metal clad and from the early 1950s.