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By GCN Staff

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Power transformers pose weakness in the electric grid

Solar weather storms and terrorist attacks are two of the greatest potential threats to the U.S. power grid, but vulnerabilities in Large Power Transformers (LPT) may also pose a high risk, according to panelists at the recent Data Center World conference. 

LPTs help utilities manage the transmission of electricity and adjust the electric voltage on each segment of the grid from generation to the end user,  according to a report on the conference by Data Center Knowledge. 

They can be a particularly vulnerable part of the power grid because LPTs are custom-designed, cost millions of dollars to replace and, at 100 to 400 tons apiece, are difficult to transport. According to a 2012 Energy Department report, replacing LPTs could take 20 months or more given the complex procurement rules for the technology and the fluctuating price of copper and electrical steel in recent years. 

Consequently, damage to one or more LPTs could expose utilities to significant downtime and further threats. “Most utilities have few spare transformers,” Tom Popik, founder of the Foundation for Resilient Societies, told the conference. 

Popik recommended data center managers engage with public utilities and elected officials to make them aware of this and other threats to the power grid, according to the Data Center Knowledge report. 

Posted by GCN Staff on Oct 08, 2013 at 7:26 AM


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