2014 Winner: Outstanding Achievement in Environmental Technology And Innovation sponsored by Agrium Inc.
Power System Covers prevent Outages and Protect Wildlife
Power outages caused by birds and animals were once an accepted part of doing business for utility companies. But with Cantega’s comprehensive technology and processes, these outages are no longer acceptable.
Marty Niles, Cantega’s founder and president, is very familiar with the impact animals have on unprotected power systems. Before founding Cantega in 2001, Niles was working as a power lineman with over 25 years in the electricity industry.
“I would be responding to trouble calls and going out to sites and would find a dead bird or squirrel. I became very aware of how frequent animal contacts were occurring.” Niles says.
Developing the Product
Seeing a need to effectively protect power systems without leaving gaps in the coverage, Cantega initially used a spray method of applying polyurethane to substation equipment. Due to a number of factors, including environmental conditions, this type of application was not cost effective.
“We came back to the drawing board and decided that if we could make products of any shape or form and of any dimension, we could essentially provide a better fit and have the best coverage with the product,” Niles says.
Now using photogrammetry, Cantega’s patent pending data collection system determines the exact measurements of electrical substations and power line equipment.
Once the data is collected, molds are created that are exact replicas of the equipment being protected. Cantega’s proprietary polymer material is then sprayed on the molds to form precise fit protection covers. This revolutionary solution is marketed as “Greenjacket”.
Through this technology, Cantega eliminated the need for de-energizing or shutting down equipment to determine the dimensions. Furthermore, cover designs using this technology is accurate from 1/8 inch to 1/16 inch, eliminating virtually all spaces and gaps on the protected equipment.
Leading the Way
There is a substantial need for this protective product in power systems across North America. It is estimated that $18 to $30 billion dollars of lost economy, occurs yearly in the US due to animal-caused outages.
Cantega is the only company offering a differentiated precise fit solution to the market to address this problem. AltaLink, Alberta’s largest power transmission company and a major Canadian customer of Cantega, identified a 95 per cent reduction in animal-caused outages on systems where Greenjacket is deployed, which has a huge financial impact.
Niles also looks forward to continued expansion in the US market.
“We have had significant growth into the US, especially in the last 18 months. The US is a giant market opportunity for Greenjacket and we are very excited about the adoption of the product in the US,” Niles says.
Twice the Benefits
Protecting a system with this accuracy has both economic and environmental benefits. From a business standpoint, preventing unscheduled outages is highly cost effective. From an environmental perspective, a covered system protects both endangered and non-endangered wildlife alike.
Another environmental benefit of this technology comes as a byproduct of implementing better covers. In oil production, outages can cause companies to flare off sour gas. These flares are harmful for air quality and can potentially cause wildfires.
Although the fundamental goal of Cantega is to protect stations and prevent outages, they are also creating significant environmental benefits.
Close Knit Team
To achieve success, Cantega has created an environment where every person strives for the same objectives. They truly want to be the best on the planet at addressing this issue.
“We are all rowing at the same time in the same direction,” Niles says. “We have a goal of having zero contact on mitigated stations and we are constantly talking about improving what we’re doing every week.”