Part of Grid Network »

The Transmission Professionals special interest group covers the distribution of power from generation to final destination. 


The US Transformer Shortage – Will It Affect Utilities' Future Plans?

image credit: © Richard Santillan |
Julian Jackson's picture
Staff Writer, Energy Central BrightGreen PR

Julian Jackson is a writer whose interests encompass business and technology, cryptocurrencies, energy and the environment, as well as photography and film. His portfolio is here:...

  • Member since 2020
  • 499 items added with 185,982 views
  • Jan 4, 2023

Shortages of transformers have just begun to make themselves noticed outside the utility community. These vital components of the T&D system are not easy to get hold of, with knock-on effects on projects being delayed or going up in cost.

The American Public Power Association (APPA), serving not-for-profit publicly owned utilities, surveyed their members at the start of 2022, and found that transformer delivery times averaged one year, compared to three months in 2018 (before the pandemic). Now, their membership is reporting wait times as high as 18 months to two years, with some manufacturers canceling orders because they don’t have enough available stock for customers.

In November, Rep. Sean Casten, D-Ill., backed by the utility sector, urged the government to authorize $2.1 billion in disaster supplemental funding to meet the shortage of electrical transformers and complementary grid security technologies via the Defense Production Act.

The cost of large transformers is up 20% to 50% since 2020, said Grid Assurance CEO Dave Rupert. The company stockpiles bulk power system equipment for subscribers, or for sale to non-subscribers. A year ago it took between 16 and 20 months to procure this equipment; now it has effectively doubled to 20 to 39 months.

The shortage of distribution system transformers is a relatively new problem and is separate from a longer-standing shortage of large bulk power system transformers. Both, however, are a threat to grid security and are driving up costs. Only a few US manufacturers of distribution system transformers operate, and reasons for the delays and shortages include constraints on materials, labor and production capacity. Overseas, the situation is no better so importing is not a solution, making this a serious issue which needs to be addressed by both government and the private sector.

This situation will ultimately affect how quickly the country is able to upgrade its transmission infrastructure in the years ahead.


No discussions yet. Start a discussion below.

Julian Jackson's picture
Thank Julian for the Post!
Energy Central contributors share their experience and insights for the benefit of other Members (like you). Please show them your appreciation by leaving a comment, 'liking' this post, or following this Member.
More posts from this member

Get Published - Build a Following

The Energy Central Power Industry Network is based on one core idea - power industry professionals helping each other and advancing the industry by sharing and learning from each other.

If you have an experience or insight to share or have learned something from a conference or seminar, your peers and colleagues on Energy Central want to hear about it. It's also easy to share a link to an article you've liked or an industry resource that you think would be helpful.

                 Learn more about posting on Energy Central »