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MED to spend $30,000 for substation transformer repair

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MASSENA — The Massena Electric Department will be spending $31,850 to repair a transformer at the East Hatfield substation, but the resolution could have been significantly more costly.

A worst-case scenario for officials would have been the purchase of a new transformer, which would have cost between $150,000 and $180,000, according to MED Superintendent Andrew J. McMahon.

Some abnormal oil readings were observed in a transformer in June, leading to additional testing by the Cicero-based engineering group HMT.

The transformer, which weighs approximately 29,000 pounds and is filled with aluminum core and about 1,000 gallons of oil, has been sent out for repairs and is expected to be returned in one month.

“They’re going to retest the transformer and hopefully have the unit back to us by late September,” Mr. McMahon said. “So that went well. The repair cost is going to be under $35,000 and a new transformer would have been $150,000 to $180,000.”

In May, the utility group discovered abnormal oil readings caused by high counts of acetylene. It did a retest and then Doble testing, which refers to a power factor test performed on transformers to ensure they are functioning correctly.

Based on consultations with HMT, the consensus was to re-energize the transformer, which was done in June.

“As it’s a 20-year-old transformer and we’d expect a 50- or 60-year life on a transformer, I think we’re best served reinvesting in this one and getting some more life out of it,” Mr. McMahon said. “It will be all retested and we’ll get a one-year warranty when we get it back, which doesn’t speak for the other 39 years of use, but I think we’ll be in good shape when we get it back.”

MED officials said the transformer being sent for repairs was installed in 1995.

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