APPA: transformer shortage must be addressed

Photo by American Public Power Association on Unsplash

The president and CEO of the American Public Power Association says U.S. electric utilities are experiencing a shortage of distribution transformers, a critical component of the grid.

Joy Ditto says the shortages worsened by supply chain challenges are impacting all regions of the country.

“The distribution transformers are the boxes that convert the voltage and enable electricity to flow into homes and businesses and there is a shortage across the country and industry,” she says. “We’ve been doing our due diligence to try to make sure we are able to address this through refurbishment, sharing the transformers, and accessing our stockpiles over the course of the year. We’re now at a point where typically we would be able to get replenishment of distribution transformers from manufacturers within about three months. Now we’re looking at lead times of well over a year and in some cases two years and it’s just not acceptable.”

She tells Brownfield action is needed.

“We’ve been doing a number of things to try to alert the federal government, alert the manufacturing community, and work with builders and contractors because when we don’t have distribution transformers we can’t put in a new building or home or EV chargers. It becomes a serious problem for growth and the existing reliable function of the electric grid,” she says. “We have been trying to press the manufacturers to help out and let us know what the major concern is. What we’ve been able to glean is that labor is one of the primary concerns. As an industry, we’ve asked Congress to appropriate upwards of $1 billion to help with labor. We just need to step it up quite a bit to alleviate this supply chain strain in a short timeframe.”

The American Public Power Association said it was disappointed that funding to ramp up production of transformers was not included in the omnibus appropriations bill.

APPA represents 2,000 publicly owned, not-for-profit electric utilities that provide cost-based electricity to 49 million Americans in 49 states.

Audio: Joy Ditto

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