DOE authorized to boost transformer production

Domestic production of transformers and other electric grid components will be fast-tracked under new authority granted to the Department of Energy by President Joe Biden—a remedy that augments recommendations by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) to address reliability concerns caused by the overburdened U.S. supply chain.

Biden signed orders in early June to allow DOE to use the Defense Production Act to help manufacturers increase their output of transformers, a move that NRECA said was necessary to meet demand in fast-growing areas of the country and for power restoration after storms and other disasters.

“For several months, America’s electric cooperatives have raised serious questions about supply chain disruptions to materials necessary for reliable operation of the nation’s electric infrastructure,” NRECA CEO Jim Matheson said in a statement.

“The Biden administration’s use of the Defense Production Act to shorten lead times for supplies of electric transformers is a much-needed step to support reliability and resilience.”

A recent report from the North American Electric Reliability Corp. confirmed that several states are facing reliability risks this summer from extreme weather and supply shortages.

Matheson said NRECA will continue to work with Washington policymakers on “additional measures” that will help ensure that co-op members’ lights stay on at a price they can afford.

“America’s electric cooperatives look forward to continuing to work with the Biden administration and Congress to reduce supply chain vulnerabilities in the short term while we increase domestic capability to meet our future needs,” Matheson said. “A diverse energy mix that includes adequate baseload supply and an assured supply chain are essential to meet those expectations.”