130 YEARS OF ELECTRIC HISTORY IN THE MAKING

 

Includes translated excerpts from the 80-Year Company Anniversary Booklet of Elektrizitätswerk Horb Josef Schneider KG. Published in 1975.

Introduction

Although Schneider Power is a young company, its ambitions are rooted in more than 130 years of experience of the Schneider family providing electricity in Germany, Canada and the United States. Our passion with electricity dates back to 1892 when Josef Schneider Sr. founded the Elektrizitätswerk Horb in the city of Horb in southwestern Germany, near Stuttgart. This text contains excerpts from the 80 Year Anniversary Booklet, published in 1975 and news clippings from the company’s archives. It is our goal with this little story to give you an insight into the history and philosophy of our company. We hope that you enjoy reading our “little history in the making.”

Timeline: A century of firsts

 

1892 - First Electric Company in Southern Germany.

1894 - First to use Ernst von Siemens new "Dynamo" technology turbine.

1894 - First to provide "Electric Light" in south-western Germany.

1894 - First company to build a Hydro Power Plant.

1912 - First in connecting 11 townships to the grid.

1913 - First company to own two hydropower plants.

1922 -First company to use new Voith-Francis Turbines.

1960 - First to upgrade from 15,000 to 20,000Volt carrier lines.

1973 - First to install new "electronic" technology to boost substation capacity from 6,000KWto 22,000 KW.

1975 - First privately owned company to deliver 21.5 million kWh per year.

1980 - First to secure long-term exclusive Government Power Purchase Agreements.

1985 - First company to upgrade to new Ossberg-Streamturbines.

1998 - First privately owned Ontario based company to focus on Wind Energy development.

2003 - First Canadian power company to be recognized as a member of the United Nations Global Compact

2005 - First Canadian power company to build Enercon wind turbines in Ontario, Canada.

2008 –First Canadian Renewable Energy Developer to go Public on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

2010 –First U.S. Renewable Energy Developer to win a contract with Bahamas Electricity Corporation

2012 –First U.S. Renewable Energy Developer to win a contract with the Dominican Republic.

 

130 Years Ago…

In the year 1892 electricity came to our city. It was the birth year of the Elektrizitätswerk Horb (located near Stuttgart in the Kingdom of Württemberg in south-western Germany). With the start of the electricity age came problems that had to be solved and challenges that had to be overcome.

 

We want to pay particular tribute, and dedicate this book to the man, whose dedication, energy and foresight built the foundations of the Elektrizitätswerk. With small beginnings he carried on a business and today we can say with pride that hiswork was, for many parts, always one step ahead of his time.

 

But even the following generations of the family business had their worries. War times and subsequent rebuilding brought the company owners to the brink of existence, whilst trying to keep pace with new technologies and the expansion of the city. It was in the mid-seventies, when the energy company was being run in its third generation, that saw immense expansion and development that has brought the company to its largest size. The fact that we were delivering 21+ million kilowatt hours of electricity (1980) is the best indicator of our success. It is the current generation of thefamily that should receive our gratitude for this.

 

Finally, we would like to thank the people and workers that have invested many hours of labour into the company. Electrical engineers and contractors, machine technicians, employees and assistants –all working with diligence and commitment to make the company what it is today. Although it is impossible for us to say exactly how many employees we had over the years, we know for sure that over the past 80 years it has been in excess of 200 employees.

 

We hope you enjoy the next few pages as you page through our company’s history. Some events will bring back memories, some of great importance, but also day-to-dayoccurrences. We will attempt to create “a little company history in themaking”.

 

THE FOUNDER

Josef Schneider Sr.      

* 29.5.1840 in Bühelrtann,  Germany

†  14.3.1927 in Horb a. N., Germany

Josef Schneider Senior was the founder of the Elektrizitätswerk Horb. The first electricity was generated by a steam generator in what we refer to today as the upstream station. When it burned down in 1894 he decided to switch to hydro electric power. And we have been in renewables ever since. It was on his merit that, after a somewhat reluctant demand of this “new energy”, he managed to spread usage within the city. A few years later even Horb was too small to consume all the electricity he produced. As such Mr. Schneider decided in 1912 to connect the surrounding towns to his electricity supply network. Serving approximately eleven townships, the company reached its largest geographic expansion to date. The development had now become unstoppable. The founder of the Elektrizitätswerk realized this potential early on and never left sight of it until his death.

Mr. Josef Schneider Senior passed away at the age of 87 and was laid to rest in his hometown Horb.

 

THE SON

   

Josef Schneider Jr.

     

* 14.9.1884 in Horb  a. N., Germany     

†  27.8.1955 in Horb a. N., Germany

Josef Schneider Jr. headed up the company, which began operations on 1.12.1894, after the First World War. Under his leadership the station was transformed and modernized and his work focused on providing for an ever increasing demand for electricity. The first couple of years after the war were not easy, but Mr. Schneider Jr. conquered every situation with courage and foresight. Even in the public eye Mr. Schneider was held in high regards and respected for being a responsible citizen. His advice and his immense knowledge were highly regarded for many years as a member of the city council, a director of the Bank of Commerce and as a member of the city’s urban planning committee. His help and devotion helped many in the community.

 

Josef Schneider Jr. passed away on 27.8.1955 at the age of 71. The company, itsemployees and associates will continue to commemorate his honorable efforts.

 

 

 

THE BROTHERS

   

Kurt Schneider (left)

* 16.10.1913 in Horb  a. N., Germany

†  18.11.1995 in Horb a. N., Germany

       

Erwin Schneider (right)    

* 16.10.1913 in Horb  a. N., Germany

†  Unknown in Horb a. N., Germany

After their extensive schooling and training in various companies came the bitter years of the Second World War. After the war both actively engaged in their fathers business and the subsequent rebuilding of the company took up their entire efforts. On the death of their father Josef Schneider Jr. the brothers took over the reigns of the company. A continuous increase in electricity demand by industry, the growth of the city, further expansion of suburbs – was the reality and challenge of the day. The company’s overall largest growth period is attributed to their management of the company, which also took a high degree of engagement and financial knowledge. Today we can see that the company had solidified its assets and its financial future and would continue to expand its presence.

 


 

A NEW GENERATION

   

Bernd Schneider

     

* 23.11.1949 in Tübingen,  Germany     

†  22.09.2017 in Toronto, Canada

In 1975 the company’s day-to-day business was taken over by the son of Kurt Schneider, Mr. Bernd Schneider. His leadership was paramount in establishing a near electricity monopoly in southwestern Germany. The company’s generating capacity was greatly increased by the building of a new transformer transfer stations and building new electronic compensation measures at the demarcation point between the EW and the national grid. Mr. Schneider also led the transition to computerized systems to ensure supply of electricity without any interruptions of service to customers. The company’s founders had always planned ahead for upgrades and to date it is one of our greatest strengths.

 

With the upgrade of electrical networks inevitable and the years of mergers and acquisitions reaching its height, Mr. Schneider led a merger with Energie-Versorgung Schwaben AG (now ENBW). After the sale, Mr. Schneider and his wife Veronika and son Thomas would immigrate to Toronto, Canada in May 1985.

 

With the primary business sold, Mr. Schneider set out to diversify the family’s holdings, with direct investments into the up-and-coming wind farm boom in Germany, as well as international real estate and hotel properties. In 1998, his son Thomas Schneider founded Schneider Power Inc. in Toronto, Canada, upon which he became Executive Chairman of the company until his death in 2017.


 

 THE ENTREPRENEUR

   

Thomas Schneider

     

* 29.05.1975 in Horb,  Germany

Following in the footsteps of his father, Thomas Schneider founded Schneider Power Corporation in 1998, followed by Schneider Power Inc. in 2004 and Schneider Power USA in 2008. Under his management the company expanded its renewable energy portfolio to over 3,000 megawatts, with approximately $6.2 billion dollars of projects under development. The Company went public on the Toronto Venture Exchange in August 2008.

 

Schneider Power became one of Canada's premier renewable energy companies, with five wind farms in operation and a portfolio of 25 clean electricity generation development projects and advanced exploration projects located across two continents, and large land positions on the most promising and prospective wind and solar power areas in North America.

 

In 2010, the Company was acquired by Irvine California based Quantum Fuel Systems, now owned by Douglas Communications, owned by Kevin Douglas. After a successful earn-out period, Thomas Schneider left the company in 2013 to found SP2 Energy as well as launch a Silicon Valley based venture fund called KXTER Fund One. The fund invested in several successful businesses including Palantir Technologies Inc., founded by Peter Thiel, several renewable tech companies and Trip Concierge Group, a leading U.S. based travel and lifestyle company.

In 2022 SP2 Energy changed its name to "Schneider Power Inc." after acquiring the rights to the name from Douglas Communications.

Mr. Schneider continues to head up Schneider Power as Chairman and CEO.

 

 

 

 

Short Electric History

Over the past eight centuries the public supply of electricity took on an unbelievable new dimension. Thought of more as toys rather than something useful, electric utility companies have become generation, distribution and transmission systems of immense size and scope. The technology of this industry continues to be under rapid development even today. From the simple water wheels to today’s nuclear power plants was a difficult and determined path.

 

Picture: Location of first hydro plant, prior to construction around 1850.

 

With the invention of the Dynamo by Werner von Siemens, which was showcased for the first time at the Paris International Electric Exhibition in 1881 together with Thomas Edison’s light bulb, came a useful application of electric energy.

 

Although it was in 1882 when for the first time direct current was able to be transmitted for a distance of 57km from Miesbach to Munich, electricity supply remained focused on the city’s and larger townships with local generation close by. That is why around the turn of the century only smaller towns in our area such as Metzingen, Urach and Esslingen were supplied with electricity. Those small towns built their own little electricity generators.

 

Only after the invention of the alternating current in 1891 and the successful transmission from Lauffen to Frankfurt over a distance of 187 km (by Oskar von Miller) was it possible to create a large regionally distributed electricity supply. It however still took a while until electricity reached the countryside. Candles and Petroleum lamps were the main source of light for farmers, houses and Inn’s. Who ever thought to run machines and gadgets with electricity? Although people were busy discussing such “super modern” acquisitions for the mills near the Neckar River, a useful application was still far from reality. To get electricity to one’s home was an expensive and difficult proposition, which furthermore shows and underlines what brilliant idea it was to found a company whose goal was to supply the general public with electricity. The next story will tell you how this was implemented in our city.

The first “Electric Light” in the city of Horb.

 

It is precisely 130 years ago that the first light bulbs were glowing in the city of Horb. The first generator machine was located at first at the Schneider-Mill. Unfortunately, in 1894 the mill burned to the ground. It was this unlucky year that was to be the birth year of the Elektrizitätswerk, thus becoming the first Electricity Company in the Kingdom of Württemberg. 

Picture: First steam turbine being delivered in the year 1892.

Wilhelm Reisser, by appointment to his majesty the King of Württemberg, built by order of Josef Schneider Sr. the Elektrizitätswerk Horb near the former “Steim Mill”. A steam generator was installed to supplement the hydro plant which produced the first electricity on the 9th of December 1894. To commemorate the commissioning a large

electrically lit transparency was hung outside the city hall. This event became the news of the Kingdom and people came from all over in crowds to be amazed and see the first electric light. Even the local press made a note of the event as front-page news in the “Horber Chronicle” on December 21st, 1894 explaining how the “light wonder” works. An excerpt of the article read as follows:

 

“The energy is provided by the Neckar River, whose massive waters swiftly turn the water wheel. From this wheel the turning motion is transferred and infused not only into the Mill but also into the Dynamo machine of the Elektrizitätswerk. From the Dynamo machine a wire carries a current into a switch board which is mounted with 20 apparatuses that regulate the current and measure it. From the switch board eight cables carry the current into the wire grid that is split into two sections. The one part leads to the upper section of town, the other to the lower section of town. Over the roofs and along masts, wires carry the current into the houses and can be turned on at will to light a light bulb.”

Picture: First hydro plant built in the year 1894.

 

As was reported in the Horber Chronicle in 1894 it took some time for the people to befriend themselves with the as-yet-unknown energy of the Elektrizitätswerk.The first to pack away their petroleum lamps were the hotel and restaurant owners, innovative businesses and friends of the family. Even the local governments participated to show a good example. The city however did not have complete electricity coverage until the end of the First World War, in particular when farmers and business owner scame to the realization that electricity could replace the mule in their barns and factory’s. Those years also saw the building of the first distribution station. It was also the efforts of Elektrizitätswerk engineer Stephan Schäfer to convince stubborn land-folk of the idea and sometimes force them into their newfound luck. And since the E-Werk Employees were working in two kingdoms, namely Hohenzollern and Württemberg, particular attention had to be paid to local customs of titles, rank and order. Heaven forbid someone would dare make a mistake.

 

1912: Was the year when eleven townships were able to be connected to the electricity grid, including towns such as Nordstetten, Bittelbronn, Heiligenbronn, Gruol and Dettingen.

 

1913: Saw the acquisition of the Steim Mill (now known as the “Downstream Station”) and equipping them with Voith-Hydro-Turbines.

City of Horb prior to construction of hydro damn.

 

1922: the company sold its interest in the other townships in order to focus its entire energy on expanding and upgrading the city’s electricity network. The difficult and turbulent years of the First and Second World War confronted the company with almost-impossible-to-solve problems. In particular to mention was the fact that during the Second World War the copper wires in our transmission lines was stolen and replaced with Iron wiresby the ruling National Socialist government in Berlin. And the Diesel Turbine, that supplied power during peak demand, narrowly escaped the march to Russia; its sheer weight sparing it from removal and deployment in the war effort. The time after the Second World War was, in particular until the Currency Reform in 1949, a difficult time to cope and manage; many problems having to be solved through improvisation and temporary solutions. Starting 1949 things were looking up for the company.

 

1949: The year of the German currency reform in 1949 was for every company a very important turning point. Although everyone started at zero again, one knew that there would be some new found upwards progress. The trend to betterment was, to the surprise of many, rather quick. In the area of electricity generation it required keeping up with rapid changes through a focused effort to handle the new economic situation. The demand by industry for electricity continued to grow at a staggering pace. However private households were now also able to purchase an ever increasing influx of new electric equipment with the result of electrifying the entire household. The Schneider household, being the leader in adapting to technological innovation, was the first household in southern Germany to own an “electric stove”, much to the enjoyment of Mrs. Julie Schneider, the wife of Josef Schneider Jr.

1953: Extreme flooding in Horb. The E-Werk which generated electricity through its own hydro-turbines faced heavy flooding time and time again. Even ice-flows in winter brought with it dangers that forced the engineers to use explosives to dampen the destructive capability of water and ice. As was on Friday, the 26th of June 1953when the city experienced a century flood, prior to the building of the Neckar Damn Correction by the Elektrizitätswerk. After the waters subsided the Elektrizitätswerk had to drain the entire channel and remove debris with tractors, including tons of hay which were from the owner of the Egelstal manor. The following Sunday the streets and roads were almost all open again. This flood brought about the construction of the first hydro damn to control water flow to reduce the chance of flooding in the future.

 

Picture: Company staff 80 year anniversary in 1975.

 

1975 to present: In order to keep up with growing demand the need to build new network expansions and new substation infrastructure was no longer avoidable. As the years progressed new residential subdivisions, that had to be connected, were built. This happened in parallel to the construction of massive new industrial

complexes with the result being an exponential increase in electricity demand. The city of Horb was showing continuous growth, in part due to the economic development program spearheaded by the city to bring larger industry to the area. The Elektrizitätswerk was in the midst of all of this. Due to the economic stimulation the city’s population grew rapidly which in turn required the building of more Schools and Public Buildings as well as public works and sanitation systems.

 

The Elektrizitätswerk was confronted with each individual project as it happened. Since in today’s modern age nothing happens without electricity, every little change or addition had to be identified to build proper power lines and network infrastructure. And since a larger capacity required more safety measures, the engineers at the Elektrizitätswerk were instrumental in planning, developing and implementing the “ring connection” that would help stabilize the power grid. The upgrade from 15,000 to 20,000 Volt brought with it an increase inefficiency in delivering electricity to the peak points of distribution demand. The systematic upgrades and modernization brought the Elektrizitätswerk to its current delivery capacity of 21.5+ million Kilowatt Hours (as at 1980).

Upstream Station:
3 Voith-Francis Hydro Turbines

Downstream Station:
1 Voith-Francis Hydro Turbine
1 Ossberg-Streamturbine

 

Transformer Stations:
1949: 5 Owned Stations
1975: 35 Owned Stations

 

The capacity of our company was greatly increased by the building of a new transformer transfer station in 1973 which boosted electric capacity ratings from 6,000 kW to 22,000 kW. As always the company looked towards the future by building stations with designs ahead of its time. This also included building new electronic compensation measures at the demarcation point between the EW and the national EVS grid. The best achievement to date is that the team of the Elektrizitätswerk managed to upgrade all systems over this time period whilst continuing to supply electricity without any interruptions of service to customers. A controlled shut-down of the grid, even for a mere three hours, was unthinkable to the engineers of the Elektrizitätswerk. The company’s founders had always planned ahead for upgrades and to date it is one of our greatest strengths.

 

1985: With the upgrade of electrical networks inevitable and the years of mergers and acquisitions reaching its height, the company entered into a merger agreement with Energie-Versorgung Schwaben AG and the remaining hydro assets were acquired by the German government controlled company (now EnBW AG) in a multi-million dollar transaction spearheaded by the great-grandson Bernd Schneider. This was also the year the family immigrated to Toronto, Canada.

1990: The Schneider family heavily invests in the burgeoning wind power industry, owning a share in Germany's largest wind farm near Frankfurt.

1998: Our family reached a significant milestone with the launch of Schneider Power in 1998 in Canada. Founded by Thomas Schneider, the great-great grandson of the founder. Under his management the company expanded its renewable energy portfolio to over 3,000 megawatts in both wind and solar power generation projects, with approximately $6.2 billion dollars of projects under development at the time.

2005: The company successfully built its first wind farm in Canada, the Providence Bay Wind Farm on Manitoulin Island, Ontario. It is also the first company to introduce Enercon wind turbines to Ontario.

2006: The company expands into the United States as Schneider Power USA Inc. with development started on several projects in Nevada, Texas and Arizona.

2007: The company expands to the Caribbean with the creation of the Bahamas Renewable Energy Corporation, developing renewable energy systems to power saltwater desalination plants for GE Water and Power. It also enters into a joint-venture for a 50 Megawatt Wind Power project in the Dominican Republic under a poer purchase agreement with CDEEE.

2008:
Schneider Power Inc. goes public on the Toronto Venture Exchange. The company successfully builds two additional wind farms in Ontario, the Arthur Wind Farm and the Zephyr Wind Farm, near London, Ontario.

2010: Schneider Power is acquired by Quantum Technologies with the management team remaining at the combined company until 2013.

2013: Thomas Schneider departs Quantum Technologies and founds SP2 Energy, leading a next generation push for renewable energy technologies and clean power development in the United States.

2022: Thomas Schneider re-acquires the original "Schneider Power" family brand from Quantum Technologies and embarks on new renewable power projects in the United States.

After 130 Years…

Once again, we look towards the future and are pioneering advances in renewable electricity technology.

We are proud of our family’s achievement in providing the service of electric energy. A new generation of the family will make efforts to continue the tasks of leading the company, keeping in mind the thoughts and principles of our founder Josef Schneider Senior. This is not only a commitment to the cities we work in but also to the public at large which has supported our efforts for decades.

Our investment in new energy technology, electricity contracts and our substantial financial investments justify this trust in our company and our family. We can therefore look boldly into the future with all the confidence of our forefathers.

Published on:

Friday, August 19, 2022