Electricity North West says that is the only network operator with a dedicated oil reprocessing plant in the UK. Based at Whitebirk near Blackburn, the plant already recycles 1.5 million litres of oil, enough to fill four swimming pools, every year which is used to insulate and cool transformers.
A team of Electricity North West engineers have now improved the oil recycling process and are using it to extend the life of high voltage transformers which provide power to thousands of local homes and businesses.
Electricity North West project manager Paul Marshall said: "We are always looking ahead at ways we can improve our network to meet our customers' needs and limit impact on the environment. Transformers are essential parts of power networks that change the voltage of electricity before delivery to homes and businesses.
"Research shows that recycling the oil they use in this way can extend the life of a transformer by 10–15 years. This new approach will save around £32 million over the next six years – savings which will help the environment and help keep bills down for our customers."
The next phase of research will look at the best time to carry out oil recycling in the life of a transformer. Engineers will monitor twin transformers at 13 sites at various stages of their lives. At each site, the oil will be regenerated on one of the transformers so performance can be compared.