T&D World Magazine

Xcel Energy to Use Cooper Power Systems' Environment-Friendly Soy Oil in New Transformers

Xcel Energy will be the first large-scale utility to use Cooper Power Systems Envirotemp FR3 fluid in all of its new single-phase pole- and pad-mounted electrical distribution transformers starting next year.

FR3 fluid is a biodegradable, bio-based dielectric coolant that offers a number of advantages over petroleum-based mineral oil including an improved environmental profile and enhanced transformer performance.

Through the agreement, Xcel Energy annually will install as many as 15,000 new single-phase transformers filled with FR3 fluid, a revolutionary insulating product formulated from soy beans and environmentally safe additives. Single-phase transformers are those used most commonly to serve residential and small commercial buildings. By doing so, Xcel Energy will annually replace the use of more than 400,000 gallons of petroleum-based mineral oil with FR3 fluid, which, unlike mineral oil, is thoroughly biodegradable in both soil and aquatic environments and has the highest EPA classification for biodegradability.

“With this decision, Xcel Energy is delivering on its commitment to reduce the environmental impact of generating electricity,” said Mike Stoessl, Cooper Power Systems Group president. “Its customers will be able to see this commitment in action right in their own backyards.”

Today, more than 100 U.S.-based utilities, as well as utilities in many foreign countries, have made small- and large-scale commitments to switch to FR3 transformer fluid.

“We are dedicated to minimizing our impact on the environment, and because of that, we are making changes to the way we make and deliver energy to our customers,” said Dick Kelly, chairman, president, and CEO of Xcel Energy. “We’re looking at all levels of our business – large and small. While standard transformers function effectively and safely, we believe that our customers expect more. The new transformers with soy-based coolant are another important aspect of our environmental leadership.”

“We understand the environmental concerns of our customers and, accordingly, are committed to being the first large-scale utility to switch to environmentally friendly soy-based coolant in all of our new transformers. We believe this is the right thing to do for the environment, for our customers and for long-term cost management of the utility,” Kelly said.

Cooper Power Systems began the development of FR3 fluid in the early 1990s as a substitute for more flammable conventional transformer oil. In 2004, it partnered with Cargill, Inc. to produce and distribute Envirotemp FR3 in volume. Subsequent testing has proven the fluid’s characteristics also enhance transformer performance and life expectancy, while its vegetable base offers a much more environmentally desirable profile, all providing numerous cost savings opportunities for utilities.

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