Building Slowed Down By Shortage Of Electrical Transformers


Near one of the hottest housing markets in the country, a local builder says a shortage of electrical transformers is slowing down progress on 166 condo units.

Joshua Manning, General Manager at Lewis Builders Development in Atkinson, NH, says they are trying to complete a new construction project in Epping, NH, where the median listing home price is $581,500, according to

When Manning ordered the 20 electrical transformers he needs last year, there was no indication there would be an issue. Now he wonders when the order will be completely filled.

“It’s never taken this long to get electrical transformers for new houses,” Manning said in a recent interview with The Mortgage Note.

Manning said he has spoken with local power companies.

“The power company has been working with us but it’s extremely slow,” Manning said.

William Hinkle is a Media Relations Manager for Eversource, which serves New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. He said supply chain issues related to the pandemic are impacting construction projects across the country and have delayed the shipment of transformers from the manufacturer.

“Our team has been thinking outside the box and working on temporary solutions to provide service for new units as they are ready until those transformers arrive,” Hinkle told The Mortgage Note via email.

Hinkle explained that a transformer is a piece of equipment that either increases or reduces the voltage as electricity is transferred across the system to customers.

“Eversource does not manufacture or distribute transformers – it is equipment on the electrical system that is integral to reliability meeting the energy needs of customers,” Hinkle said.

Unitil Corporation serves New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Maine. Alec O’Meara is the Media Relations Manager and although he cannot speak about what may be happening in Epping because they do not serve the area, he acknowledged there are supply chain issues within the industry.

“My understanding is that the underpinnings here are the same sorts of supply chain challenges that have been impacting a wide array of markets,” O’Meara told The Mortgage Note via email.

Unitil has the transformers it needs for currently known projects in its system, as well as for emergency events such as a storm.

“Historically, there have been times when we have sold transformers outside of our service territory to developers or contractors looking around with other utilities for surplus, which may be the scenario you are describing below. However, we aren’t currently doing so right now in order to ensure supply for our own service territory during the current constraints. While we are covered for now, we are in fact monitoring the matter and the potential does exist for us to advise some customers down the road there may be delays for some new projects, especially for what are called pad-mounted transformers, which are primarily used in commercial developments. That’s not our current situation, but we are watching it closely,” O’Meara said.

Epping is located in between Manchester, NH, and Portsmouth, NH. It is a highly sought-after community because of its accessibility to the Seacoast and the largest city in the state.

Epping is also considered to be a more affordable community than Portsmouth, where the median listing home price is $684,500, according to

With a population of 115,644, Manchester is the largest city in the state and has a median listing home price of $329,900. It remains in the top spot on the hottest housing markets list, according to

Manchester topped the list in August of 2020 and has held the number one spot for a total of 13 times. uses market demand as measured by unique viewers per property on their website and the pace of the market as measured by the number of days a listing remains active on the site.

New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu recently issued a statement after the state’s Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee voted to accept and expend $100 million for a housing fund.

According to a press release, this historic investment is designed to increase affordable rental units in place for lower and middle-income workers to support health care and child care providers, machinists, teachers, and others.

“As a result of our InvestNH Fund, more housing will get built and our workforce will grow – a once-in-a-generation, historic investment,” Sununu said in a statement. “Our focus remains on building as many units as quickly as possible, and this $100 million investment will transform New Hampshire’s housing market, providing better outcomes for our citizens.”

According to 2021 statistics from the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority, the statewide two-bedroom vacancy rate was 0.6%. A vacancy rate between 3% and 5% is considered healthy.

At the same time, rents have increased 24% in the last five years.

But with supply chain issues impacting already underway housing projects, some people are wondering how this work will get done with the strains that already exist in the construction industry and the demand for new houses from people who do not want to rent.

The lack of electrical transformers is affecting utilities and construction companies throughout the country. reported in February that in Huntsville, AL, shortages aren’t new or exclusively COVID-19 related. The booming community is in need of pad-mounted distribution transformers.

Lead times for new transformers have gone from a month or two to a year or more for deliveries.

Justin Gibbons, purchasing agent for Denison Municipal Utilities in Iowa, told writer Betsy Loeff that they order their transformer at the beginning of the year. In 2021, they did not get them until October.

Gibbons said he sent his 2022 order to the vender in September and that was projected to arrive in nine months.

O’Dell Engineering in Modesto, CA, posted online in March that the biggest hit to the construction industry is the lack of availability of electrical transformers. They said a single transformer supplies electric power to 10-14 homes.

“Currently, in the PG&E service area, lead times for ordering transformers are now in excess of 12 months. The Turlock Irrigation District is estimating 62 weeks, while the Modesto Irrigation District is calling for a 24-month lead time for delivery of their equipment,” is written on their blog.

The construction industry has been hit hard by supply chain disruptions and labor shortages.

Builder gross profit margins fell to 18.2% in 2020, while net profits slipped to 7%, according to NAHB Builders’ Cost of Doing Business Study.

The study surveyed single-family builders across the U.S. It found that builders averaged $13.7 million in revenue for the fiscal year of 2020, of which $11.2 million (81.8%) was spent on costs of sales, such as land costs and construction costs. An additional $1.5 million (11.2%) was spent on operating expenses, such as marketing, administrative expenses, and owner’s compensation. 

Shutdowns related to COVID played a part in this, but supply chain disruptions and labor shortages were also cited.

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