Powering the World
HVDC is used in a variety of different applications including when electrical current must be transmitted over a long distance because it has some distinct advantages over alternating current – for example, less energy loss in the form of heat.
Teshmont was originally founded in 1966. The joint venture was initially launched specifically for Bipole I of the Nelson River Transmission System, and its original task was to create a system that would transmit power from the hydro generating stations on the Nelson River located in northern Manitoba to the load centres located in southern Manitoba. The company remains involved in providing engineering services to Manitoba Hydro for the Nelson River System to this day.
The company was an amalgamation of experts from three different companies, Templeton Engineering, Shawinigan Engineering and Montreal Engineering. According to Ralph Kurth, President and CEO of Teshmont Consultants, “If you take the first part of all the founding company names and put them together, that’s how the name Teshmont came to be.”
Upon the successful completion of the project – which comprised, at the time, the largest High Voltage Direct Current transmission scheme in the world – the experience the team garnered was in high demand within the broader market for use in the development of other HVDC transmission systems.
As Mr. Kurth explains, “Teshmont went from a temporary one-off special purpose company for that original project, leveraged that experience onto other HVDC projects and went on to be a permanent company operating over the last 47 years.”
Since then, Templeton Engineering, through a series of mergers and acquisitions became Stantec. Montreal Engineering went on to become AMEC, and Shawinigan Engineering went on to become part of SNC Lavalin.
About 10 years ago, Teshmont’s largest client, Manitoba Hydro, bought into the company and now owns 40 percent of the shares. Today the ownership of the company divides up as 30 percent AMEC, 30 percent Stantec and 40 percent Manitoba Hydro.
Teshmont maintains a head office in Winnipeg, but has worked all over the world to support projects in diverse regions. The company opened another permanent branch office in Calgary about two years ago, serving the strong Alberta market as well as clients in Western Canada and the United States.
“We’re very much a niche company,” explains Mr. Kurth. “We focus almost exclusively on power transmission. We don’t do any other type of engineering consulting – no roads, no bridges, no buildings, just electric power transmission.
“But within power transmission, we have the experience and the skill sets to handle anything from analytical studies, feasibility and planning studies down to detailed design for construction drawings, construction supervision and commissioning support .We also act as Owner’s Engineer for our clients to inspect manufacturing of equipment and perform system life assessments.”
Within the company’s niche market, Teshmont provides a full spectrum of services needed to study, design, and inspect construction of any kind of high voltage transmission system. Teshmont can also design the successful integration of HVDC into an existing system.
“We have the skill sets necessary to identify where DC should be applied and how it should be applied,” says Mr. Kurth. “We prepare the specifications for an owner or a transmission system operator so that they can solicit bids from HVDC manufacturers who will build converter stations, and construct and look after the transmission lines or cables. If a utility or an independent owner or a merchant developer wants to integrate an HVDC transmission into an AC system, we provide the engineering expertise that in many cases they would not have in-house.” The company can also offer cost estimating, and can provide owners with the necessary engineering support to attain regulatory approvals.
Astonishingly, Teshmont has been involved with projects which represent approximately 50 percent of the world’s installed capacity of HVDC. The company has worked on some of the largest power transmission systems in the world, including those associated with China’s Three Gorges River Dam and the Itaipu Hydroelectric Power Plant on the Brazil-Paraguay border. Teshmont played a substantial role in the electrical interconnection of Egypt and Jordan, a project that included significant engineering challenges – for instance, the deepest undersea power cable installation in the world at the time, more than 800 metres deep. The HVDC systems Teshmont has been involved in transmit the power produced by remote generating stations to millions of consumers hundreds of kilometres away.
In recent years there has been a boom in the HVDC industry because of how well it is suited to use with new green energy technologies. Because green methods of energy generation are highly location-dependent (think sunny or windy locales), HVDC is the perfect technology to transmit the electricity over long distances to the load centres.
Within the company’s staff, which totals about 100 employees, are, says Mr. Kurth, the best of the best. Teshmont team members utilize leading edge analysis tools and stay abreast of developments in the field to deliver state-of-the-art results to their clients. The company delivers projects on time and on budget, and prides itself on working as a team with clients.
“We like to establish good working relationships with our clients, and work collaboratively with them,” says Mr. Kurth. “A lot of the work that we do, especially within the HVDC area, is not only providing service to our clients but providing technology transfer and training opportunities. Our clients end up owning and operating their HVDC scheme for 40 or 50 years after we are done helping them develop it, and we find that the greatest successes happen when we work collaboratively with our clients and make sure they are as knowledgeable about this technology as they need to be for successful long-term operation. We make sure that the services that we are providing are exactly what they need to go forward with a successful project.”
Teshmont looks all over the world to find highly skilled employees with experience in HVDC technology. Because of its solid recruiting and training programs, Teshmont boasts highly qualified staff, and has been recognized by Aon Hewitt and Queen’s School of Business as one of the Best Small and Medium Employers in Canada since 2011.
With such a sterling history and strong skills base, the company is well positioned for the future. Right now, Teshmont is undertaking a strategic evaluation of which markets, which geographic areas and which types of clients it is going to pursue in the coming years. Recent years have seen renewed interest and investment on the part of both public and private sector clients in power transmission, and Teshmont’s highly skilled team will continue to be there, making that interest become reality.