ABB welcomed Dept. of Energy (DOE) Assistant Secretary Patricia Hoffman and Senior Policy Advisor Kenneth Friedman. In addition to touring the facility, DOE and ABB officials discussed recent technology advancements that can enable a more reliable and efficient US electricity grid.
The visit follows an earlier meeting between the DOE officials and ABB executives in Washington on advancing transmission and distribution capabilities to meet growing needs. It also follows an on-site visit to St. Louis last August, 2011 from United States Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO).
"We were privileged to host the U.S. Department of Energy in our power transformers facility here in St. Louis today," said Tom McDonald, the plant’s general manager. "We had a very interesting dialogue on the current situation and future opportunities to strengthen the American power grid. It was a great opportunity to discuss first-hand the many challenges the grid faces today and the technologies that can improve availability, reliability and quality of electricity in an efficient and way with minimal environmental impact."
The example of ABB's recent involvement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in designing and transporting special "Rapid Recovery Transformers" during a test drill this spring was also discussed. ABB, in conjunction with the DHS, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and Houston-based CenterPoint Energy, created these RecX recovery transformers that can be shipped and fully energized in less than a week – compared with the normal cycle of several weeks or even months – in case of a blackout caused by natural disaster or a terrorist attack.
The officials also saw ABB's TrafoSiteTesting mobile high-voltage test system, which enables on-site repair and full testing of transformers without the risk, challenges or cost of transportation to a factory.
Dr. Ramsis Girgis presented findings of power transformers performance when subjected to high levels of Geomagnetically Induced Currents (GIC) caused by solar storms. Recent advances by ABB allow utilities to rigorously evaluate their transformers and the impact on the Grid under GIC threats.
ABB, the world's leading provider of transmission and distribution equipment for the power grid, has two major transformer facilities in the state of Missouri, in St. Louis and Jefferson City. The St. Louis facility, which has been open for more than 50 years, creates medium-to-large power transformers for the power grid and employs over 250 people. More than 70 percent of all transformers found in today's U.S. power grid were built by ABB or one of its legacy companies.