Market Switzerland segment
Last year Repower was able to profit from recovering prices and price volatility. Good hydrological conditions enabled generation assets to be optimally exploited, and customer relationships were further extended. Even greater proximity to customers enabled by the group’s realignment continued to pay dividends, resulting in a gratifying development in contracts and services for third parties. In 2018 Repower made substantial investment in its grid and generation assets.
Repower also moved the electromobility/electric vehicle (EV) business forward. In 2018 PLUG’N ROLL Powered by Repower unveiled new and improved hard and software, as well as entering into new partnerships: Repower and RhB equipped 11 railway stations in Graubünden with PLUG’N ROLL charging points to meet growing demand for facilities for EVs at key tourist stations. Since October 2018, Jaguar Land Rover Schweiz AG has been recommending its customers to use the COPPER charging station from the PLUG’N ROLL range of products. Also since October 2018, SwissPass holders have been able to use Repower’s network to charge their vehicles with green power. EKS (Elektrizitätswerk des Kantons Schaffhausen) signed a distribution partnership with Repower. All these new partnerships augment partnerships with EKZ Eltop, Swiss Prime Site Immobilien and Raststätte Thurau AG initiated in the first six months of the year. The multifunctional E-LOUNGE bench received gold in the Public Design category of the 2019 German Design Award – the highest distinction in this international design competition.
In 2018 Repower launched a blog for utilities to strengthen contact and dialogue with its business partners. The blog is a platform for Repower to regularly share its expert knowledge as an energy industry service provider, adding value for existing and potential partners with highly topical content. To accompany this Repower also initiated a utilities newsletter to propagate its content among experts.
In this interview Michael Harms, Repower’s social media manager,
reports on Repower’s social media activities:
Why did Repower decide to launch a blog for utilities?
Our utilities blog, written by experts for experts, is primarily designed to transfer our know-how in energy and take our skills and capabilities to an outside audience. These specialist articles, in most cases written without product placement, are a way of entering into dialogue, on an equal basis, with our current and potential customers. We see our utilities blog as a free customer service that also gives our staff and experts a voice to speak for Repower to the world outside.
What topics does the blog focus on?
In 2018 we initiated three categories. Under Energy Strategy we deal with issues such as climate certificates, security of supply and mobility/transport. Under Innovation, interested readers can go into topics such as smart grids and energy management systems in more depth. Under Market and Renewable Energy we report, for example, on the energy transition and electricity market liberalisation. What’s important here is to always address topical, relevant energy-industry issues and link them in to the current debate.
What channels is the utilities blog available on?
It’s easiest to go to our website blog.repower.com. On the homepage you can also sign up for the utilities newsletter to make sure you don’t miss out on new developments. Repower is also present on the LinkedIn and XING business networks. Here online-savvy users will find more exciting news around Repower in addition to our blog posts.
Is Repower engaged in other social media activities as well?
Alongside LinkedIn and XING we also have a special Facebook page for parents of apprentices. And in line with the audience, we’ve set up an Instagram account for current and potential apprentices. We run a Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn page for our full-service electromobility provider PLUG’N ROLL. We also have a blog for electric vehicle fans, and send them an energy-rich newsletter on a regular basis. At Repower we don’t see social media as a challenge. We see it as an opportunity for everyone. For this reason we recently published social media guidelines to help employees active on social media find their way around these different platforms.
To further advance our corporate strategy of placing our customers at the heart of everything we do, at the end of 2018 we launched our Customer Value Centre in Landquart. It’s a competence centre designed to serve as a single point of contact for the Swiss market. With one place and a single phone number to call, we can offer our customers an even better experience.
In 2011 growing requirements and regulation prompted the municipality of Poschiavo and Repower to embark on a close cooperation to plan, build and operate the distribution grid. At the beginning of 2018 the grid services agreement underlying the partnership was reviewed and adapted to the current circumstances. In February the amended agreement was signed in the course of a visit to the Robbia control centre, entering into force retroactively on 1 January 2018. Added to this, Impresa elettrica comunale Poschiavo (IECP) signed a new electricity supply agreement.
In 2018, 13 electricity pylons in the Landquart area were dismantled to upgrade the natural landscape, with a new underground cable line constructed to replace overhead lines owned by Repower and RhB (50 and 66 kV respectively). The new line is higher-capacity and easier to maintain. In early 2018 its construction was completed, and Repower’s Landquart substation was extended and subsequently commissioned. The greatest challenge was assuring security of supply throughout and keeping any necessary shutdowns as short as possible. Another challenge was installing the new cable line, which required substantial work around 60 metres up the lattice tower. In December 2018 the old overhead line and its 13 pylons were dismantled. Investment in this project has come to around seven million francs, split between Repower and RhB on the basis of their shares in the assets. The two 66-kV RhB lines, which for a section used to run parallel to the Repower line, were also rerun underground.
Under the terms of the new concession project, the continued operation of the Campocologno power plant requires measures to connect the river Poschiavino along its length where the Lago di Poschiavo lake discharges, and to regulate the flow of the Poschiavino. The regulating weir at the Miralago water intake is also to be upgraded. For this reason Repower is planning to make improvements to the fish ladders and fish protection set-up in Miralago.
Repower sold the Klosters-Davos power line, and ceded its ownership interest in the Davos-Filisur line, to EWD. The two companies agreed to a long-term collaboration. Closing of the transaction is anticipated in 2019.
Work and services for third parties
The positive 2018 results were helped among other things by numerous contracts for third parties. Repower’s rigorous positioning as a sales and service-oriented organisation continues to bear fruit. In 2018 it won contracts worth around 15 million francs.
The contract to retrofit the Martina power plant (Lot 2) awarded by Engadiner Kraftwerke (EKW) involved the renewal of the energy transfer system of the Martina hydropower plant. The project encompassed overhauling the existing 110-kV gas insulated switchgear installation, replacing the 16-kV switchgear, and dimensioning, engineering, delivering and assembling the entire replacement secondary systems. In the course of the project Repower also renewed the plant connection at the Pradella control room. Visualisation and control for the two switchgear installations now take place at Pradella via Repower’s control system infrastructure. The necessary execution and commissioning work was done largely while equipment was running. The overhauled and new switchgear installations were successfully commissioned and handed over to the customer on schedule. The project was completed at the beginning of December 2018.
NEWLY CONSTRUCTED AVEGNO SUBSTATION
In the course of modernising the Swiss transmission network it was necessary to completely replace Swissgrid’s existing Avegno substation in the Vallemaggia in Canton Ticino. The work started back in July 2014. Repower took care of managing construction and commissioning on behalf of Swissgrid. The new substation building, including a new anchor portal, was built parallel to the existing switchyard. After that the overhead lines were progressively rerun and the new installation was commissioned. When the last line was rerun in May 2018, the new Avegno substation went into operation on schedule. Following that, the old switchyard was dismantled.
NEWLY CONSTRUCTED MENDRISIO SUBSTATION
The opening of the Gotthard and Ceneri base tunnels has boosted the SBB’s rail transportation capacity on the Gotthard axis and increased power requirements. Assuring the supply of electricity to the railway has necessitated the construction of a frequency inverter and a 16.7 Hz substation in the Mendrisio Tana area. The fifty-year-old 50-Hz substation run by the Mendrisio municipal works, Aziende Industriali Mendrisio (AIM), has reached the end of its life cycle and has to be replaced. Since the SBB is planning a new railway electrification installation at the same site, the idea is to optimally exploit synergies in the delivery of the two projects. Repower has taken charge of planning, executing and commissioning two turnkey substations, including all the technical equipment necessary for operation and the preparatory construction work for the new frequency inverter in Mendrisio. The work in connection with SBB’s Mendrisio project comes to a total of around 48 million francs, of which some 19 million falls to Repower. The construction work will go on until the end of November 2021.
Repower renewed its optimisation system service for SBB for a further year. The system allows SBB to optimise its entire portfolio, and is used for short-term power plant deployments, in the budgeting process, and for medium- and long-term project management. In addition the service includes price forecasting, market information and market access.
In August 2018, Liechtensteinische Kraftwerke (LKW) joined Repower’s balance group with part of its portfolio. The contract includes ENERGYSPACE functionalities (more on our products used for portfolio management at LKW here.
In 2018 Repower was sub-contracted by gas-insulated switchgear manufacturers ABB Schweiz AG and Siemens Schweiz AG to do assembly work on new construction projects at other utilities in Graubünden. The services involved assembling primary systems. These contracts will continue in 2019 with comprehensive work on behalf of ABB Schweiz AG on the gas-insulated switchgear installation at Swissgrid’s Pradella B site.
Repower offers its core competencies in the form of services for third parties. In this interview, Rolf Cantieni, Head of Execution, North, reports on exciting contracts and the day-to-day challenges they entail:
What third-party contracts did Repower work on in 2018?
We worked on contracts for our customers in all areas of grid and generation: work on transmission grids and on grid and generation assets of other utilities, across the range of voltages. We also delivered public lighting projects for many local authorities. A new and very exciting development is the assembly work Repower has been subcontracted to do by equipment suppliers: I’m talking gas-insulated switchgear installations in the 72-kilovolt range built to extend and reinforce the grid.
How often does Repower get awarded contracts for this sort of gas-insulated switchgear assembly work?
Last year Repower did various jobs in this field. It started with a contract from Engadiner Kraftwerke for the retrofit of the switchgear at the Martina plant. Then in summer and autumn we set up more new installations in Canton Graubünden.
What exactly is the work done by Repower?
This type of installation is always delivered in the form of individual components. For the contracts last year Repower supplied the personnel to mechanically assemble these components. For one job we also got to execute the secondary system, in other words the wiring and installation of the electrical control and protection system.
How did Repower come by this contract?
Basically we were invited to tender. We’d managed to gather the requisite know-how on previous projects, so the customer was able to rely on Repower staff with the skills and experience to provide such highly-specialised services for third parties.
Where do the people come from who work on this kind of contract?
Basically we try to find a local solution so that we can put together a team from the same region if possible. Sometimes this isn’t possible because of other contracts. For this reason we sometimes bring together people from our various sites in the north, from the Surselva and Prättigau.
Aren’t these people missed at their home site?
For this sort of contract an average of three or four people are deployed for several weeks or even months. But work on our grid and generation infrastructure still has to go on and be spread over the other people in the regions. This requires a special effort and flexibility from all our staff.
It means that people in these teams have to spend much of their working time far away from where they live.
That’s correct. They spend more time in hotel rooms. Naturally that affects people’s private lives and the hobbies they’d like to be spending time on. Some staff have too many private commitments to do this kind of work, while others are glad to take it on because they see it as a welcome change. Work for external customers can sometimes be very interesting from a technical point of view.
Is it mostly younger people working on these teams?
No. All age groups are involved, as is the case everywhere else within Repower. We want to keep it that way. Older, experienced staff have a lot of knowledge, and we want them to pass this on to their younger colleagues. Everyone benefits from that kind of knowledge transfer.
Where do you see the limits of the strategy of working on contracts for third parties?
So far we’ve managed to position ourselves well in Southeast Switzerland, and we want to continue successfully delivering these contracts. In the medium term we want to go further down this path. Our new organisation gives us a very good basis for doing so. But we’ll be keeping a close eye on the situation and exercising caution every step along the way. The goal is to increase the quality of our service for existing and new customers.
In 2018 Repower’s Market Switzerland segment posted operating income (EBIT) of CHF 17.5 million.