Working to save you money

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As a member-owned power supplier, Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative places a strong emphasis on operating as efficiently as possible.  We recognize that efficiency is directly related both to the level of service we provide and to the price you pay for the electricity you use.

One area where our folks have long been working to create value for our members is that of transformer refurbishment.  In an average month, the cooperative will physically remove around 100 transformers from the field.  About one-third of those removals are related to damage sustained by these units.  Lightning strikes or a transformer crashing to the ground as the result of a fallen wood pole are the most-common reasons for taking transformers out of service.  These “broken” models are ultimately sold as scrap to a firm in Alabama.  

Typically, the remaining two-thirds are brought in because they were scheduled to be replaced by larger-capacity transformers.  Since these units are still in working condition, Blue Ridge puts them through a refurbishing process.  In conjunction with the TMS organization, our employees will filter the transformer’s oil, while also testing it for PCB’s.  Furthermore, the lightning arrestor and other hardware items are changed out, and a fresh coat of paint is applied.  Other tests are conducted to ensure that the apparatus meets all the criteria of a well-functioning piece of equipment.  Be it a scrapped or a refurbished transformer, our employees utilize a comprehensive checklist to make certain that all environmental and other record-keeping requirements are strictly followed.

Good as new

Our experience has demonstrated that a rebuilt transformer possesses the same operational characteristics and life expectancy as that of a newly purchased model.  In other words, the reworked unit is as good as new.

In terms of dollars and cents, the savings the cooperative realizes can be substantial.  For example, a new 500-KVA pole-mounted transformer would have a price tag of around $1,000.  An equivalent refurbished unit would represent an investment of about $235, by comparison.

$600,000 saved

The bottom line is that the 60-plus transformers that undergo refurbishment each month translate into an average savings in the neighborhood of $50,000.  On a yearly basis, that adds up to $600,000 saved.  Consequently, that $600,000 sum is an expense that doesn’t find its way into the cooperative’s retail rates. 

In our role as your locally owned electricity provider, Blue Ridge takes seriously our responsibility to look out for the interests of our members.  I believe our transformer-refurbishment program offers just one of many illustrations of our intent to fulfill that obligation.

Jim Lovinggood

President CEO