In the first half of 2018 Repower continued to follow through on its promise of “made by the pros for the pros” to acquire very attractive work from third parties. To be able to better meet customer needs, at the end of 2017 the old Grid, Generation and Trading units were merged to create a new Service Provision unit. This way Repower has bundled its expertise to the benefit of its customers, offering individual service from A to Z in areas from planning and delivery to operation and management.
In 2017 Repower decided to streamline the structure of its wind power companies in Germany and merge them into a single legal entity. The new company is called Repartner Wind GmbH. The merger achieves the goal of simplifying structures and further boosting efficiency and cost effectiveness.
On 10 January 2018 Repower launched an offer for the premature repurchase of an outstanding bond maturing on 20 July 2022. The offer closed on 24 January 2018 with bonds worth a total of CHF 18.55 million repurchased. In this connection a new financing instrument had been launched at the end of 2017: two so-called green bonds totalling EUR 50 million issued to fund various renewable electricity generation assets even garnered international recognition, receiving the Green Bond Pioneer Award in London. Repower is the first Swiss company to conduct financing in this form. The two transactions underpin the execution of Repower’s strategy and further optimise its financing profile.
The launch of a new Customer Value Centre, a competence centre serving as a single, straightforward point of contact, will enable us to serve and support our customers even better in the future and facilitate meaningful and effective dialogue. The Customer Value Centre is scheduled to commence operation in the fourth quarter of 2018.
In the first half of 2018 Repower expanded its social media presence. Managing the professional networks on LinkedIn and XING enables us to keep our communities up to speed on developments at Repower. We have also created new platforms for incoming applications. Going with the times, we now communicate with current and prospective apprentices – our employees of the future – via the online photo platform Instagram. Electric vehicle (EV) drivers and hosts on PLUG’N ROLL can get regular information via Facebook, Twitter, our newsletter and our blog. The social media team ensures that the processes for marketing and responding to enquiries run smoothly. This year Repower plans to launch an online blog and a newsletter to persuasively communicate our know-how and expertise with different energy utilities in line with our “made by the pros for the pros” strategy.
Repower was able to benefit from favourable price developments with a long portfolio consisting mainly of hydroelectric generation assets, interests and drawing agreements. May and June in particular had a positive impact thanks to above-average production of hydropower. Added to this, there was a substantial year-on-year increase in the price differential between Switzerland and Italy. Repower also generated positive margins in pure trading owing to very high levels of price volatility. However, at mid-year these margins are running below expectations.
PRODUCTS AND SERVICES
As part of the upcoming launch of the SMARTPOWER smart metering product, at the end of June Repower initiated a pilot project in the municipality of Landquart, linking 77 electricity meters with a total of 50 smart managers. Among other things this allows pilot customers to monitor their electricity consumption in real time, switch controllable equipment on and off, and receive alarms (for example when their electricity consumption is too high) via text or email. The Landquart pilot will run until the end of December 2018, following which the experience will be evaluated. In field trials conducted in Repower’s area in 2016 and 2017, the customers involved were able to reduce their power consumption by up to 9% on average. SMARTPOWER is scheduled for market launch in early 2019.
Repower continues to make progress on the electric vehicle (EV) side. The company has presented “PLUG’N ROLL powered by Repower” in a new light with new charging points, an improved app, a new website, personalised solutions and worry-free operation. With technical refinements and the integration of actual experience and customer feedback, Repower launched various new features which it showcased to the public for the first time at the Geneva International Motor Show in March 2018.
The expansion of the public PLUG’N ROLL network for electric vehicles is proceeding at full speed, and not just in Canton Graubünden. This is thanks to various new partnerships, and means that from this summer EV drivers will be able to charge their vehicles at 25 publicly accessible locations in Canton Zurich. This project is backed by the Zurich utility Elektrizitätswerke des Kantons Zürich (EKZ) and the electrical installation company EKZ Eltop. Cooperation agreements have also been signed with Swiss Prime Site (real estate), Raststätte Thurau AG (service areas), the Rhaetian Railway and various local authorities including Andeer and St. Antönien.
Repower is now also offering a green power sticker for sale. It indicates environmental friendliness and is geared to EV drivers who are uncompromising in their desire for “renewable” transportation. The price of the sticker enables Repower to cover the desired volume of green power needed to drive the EV for one year.
E-LOUNGE, a multipurpose bench/charging station brought to market by Repower last year, is generating a great deal of interest. The first six months saw the genesis of promising partnerships: the Upper Engadine Region decided to buy more than 20 of the benches. The product is also creating waves outside Canton Graubünden, and even outside Switzerland, in Italy. In addition, E-LOUNGE has been nominated for the German Design Award 2019, which goes to products and projects, and their manufacturers and designers, that lead the way in the German and international design landscape.
On the generation side, Repower was able to operate existing assets on an optimum basis. Thanks to good snow conditions, the first six months saw above-average levels of production. The company took further steps to secure production and the concession for the Valposchiavo power station cascade. This is very important in terms of renovation and refurbishment. Repower is also currently working on options to support the funding of the Chlus hydropower project.
In 2017 and 2018 Repower constructed additional grids in the Landquart-Prättigau-Davos area. These constitute important extensions to the pan-regional high-voltage grid to assure grid capacity and security of supply. Worthy of mention from an environmental point of view is the fact that these lines run underground, which is a great advantage for built-up areas and the landscape. Commissioning of these assets is complete. Now the overhead lines will be dismantled.
St. Moritz Energie’s Islas substation is undergoing work for a new 60 kV cable connection. Further work is planned in the Champfèr-Silvaplana area. The approval procedure and final evaluation for approval by the Federal Inspectorate for Heavy Current Installations (ESTI) are under way. The planned 110 kV/60 kV grid interconnection in Bever is currently at the tender stage, with the evaluation for the contract in progress. Preliminary work is scheduled for August 2018, assembly for May 2019, and commissioning for September 2019.
Services for third parties
In the first half of 2018 Repower focused on services for third parties, and was able to continue or acquire major contracts. The company delivered various projects on behalf of the utility Engadiner Kraftwerke: In the Martina plant retrofit project, the overhauled 110 kV gas insulated switchgear installation, including new secondary systems, was put into operation successfully. In Pradella another major stage in the Swissgrid project to upgrade the 380 kV switchyard’s secondary systems was successfully completed with two generators at the Pradella power plant connected to the 380 kV switching station’s new control system. In addition to this, extensive modifications were made to the plant’s existing machine control systems. The contract is due for completion by 2021.
In May Repower put the last transformer segment into operation to hand over the new Avegno substation to Swissgrid on schedule. Planning for the new substation was begun in August 2014 and construction work in October 2016, and 18 months later the installation has now been handed over to the client, Swissgrid. In the course of planning and construction Repower was also able to perform a number of smaller contracts for Swissgrid. The last phase now involves dismantling the old switchyard and completing work on the surroundings of the installation.
In the first half of the year Repower received additional work from Swissgrid: a contract to deliver the secondary systems for the expansion of the 380 kV switching station at the Pradella substation, involving engineering, delivering, assembling and commissioning the secondary systems. The contract is scheduled for completion by 2022. Repower has also been granted the contract to service, maintain and provide the standby service for the transmission line routes in southern Graubünden for the next four years. In mid-January a high-voltage pylon on the Fuorn Pass was completely destroyed by an avalanche. Swissgrid gave the repair contract to Repower. In mid-February the line was handed over for management by Swissgrid at the Pradella control room.
In June Repower was granted a major general contractor job by Swiss Federal Railways (SBB). The contract is worth around CHF 19 million. In January 2019 work to construct the first substation will commence, with a second substation to follow. This substation is due to go into operation at the end of 2021 to assure the power supply for the north-south rail route. The contract is due for completion in 2023.
The service contract for an optimisation system for SBB’s trading, which has been running since 2014, was extended on the same terms for another year. Added to this, Repower has successfully installed a new version of the system (Release 3.0) this year.
In the first half of 2018 Repower’s Market Switzerland segment posted operating income (EBIT) of CHF 5.5 million (versus CHF -1.1 million in the first half of 2017).