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Prototyping fast-turnaround extra-high-voltage transformers through RecX Program


March 7, 2012
By Anthony Capkun

March 06, 2012 – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, with support from the electric utility industry and the Department of Energy, wants to be prepared for any potential large-scale blackout that could impact extra-high-voltage (EHV) transformers.

Sarah Mahmood, a Homeland Science & Technology Directorate (S&T) program manager, is addressing this issue through S&T’s “Recovery Transformer [RecX]” program. She is overseeing the design and development of a prototype fast-turnaround EHV transformer scheduled to be tested operationally this month.

“The goal of the spring 2012 exercise is to conduct a full, in-grid, pilot demonstration, including the transportation, delivery, installation, and commissioning of the prototype RecX in a matter of days—not weeks or months, as with traditional EHV transformers,” said Mahmood.

The RecX prototype is designed to be modular, smaller and lighter than a traditional transformer, allowing for easier transportation and more rapid installation, enabling faster recovery in the event of an emergency.

The RecX is being built by the Electric Power Research Institute’s (EPRI) contractor, the ABB Group of St. Louis, Mo. and, when completed, will be loaded onto a series of tractor trailers and caravanned to Texas. There it will be installed and commissioned in the CenterPoint Energy grid, outside the Houston area.

“We’re very excited about the upcoming pilot demonstration and the opportunity to validate our concept and design,” said Mahmood.