During the last few years of the nineteenth century, there were many experiments conducted in the electrical field, especially those relating to the transport of energy that went on to witness remarkable implementation in the first decade of the 1900s.
It is during those years that the founder Giovanni Cantamessa lays the foundation of what was to become the main activities of the family company until today, i.e. the construction of power lines to carry electricity, with over 100 years of history that has seen the baton passed down from father to son, reaching the current fourth generation.
100 years to prove the strength and ability of the company to maintain its pioneering and competitive recognition in an industry where quality and competitiveness are expressed at the highest levels.
The sole partner company Giovanni Cantamessa takes on construction work on a section of the 70 kV power line Cedegolo - Milan for the contractor Società Idroelettrica Adamello. This laid the "first stone" of what will become the main activity of the company to this day.
1910 - 1920
The exceptional result of this first test is the calling card that facilitates the signing of new works on behalf of the various power companies which were founded in the period in a number of different Italian regions. A most significant step forward was the first important project away from home, for the construction of a new power line, in Castellammare di Stabbia and Torre Annunziata (NA) on behalf of the company SME Napoli.
At the end of the construction works of a 60 kV line in Pont St. Martin, in 1916, the works were generally suspended throughout the whole country because of the outbreak of war.
1920 - 1940
It takes a good few years for the country to get back on its feet. The work sites reopen at the end of the '20s and the firm signs new contracts for the construction of new lines, particularly its first 132 kV line Chiavenna - Arquata measuring 105 km. Meanwhile the first generational change at the helm of the company takes place, which now takes on the name of "Elettrodotti di Cantamessa".
In 1928 the company is assigned a project by SIP Torino, relating to construction works of a 120 km section of the 220 kV Kardaun (BZ) - Turin line, the so-called "Isarco I". In addition to being the first 220 kV line ever constructed in Italy, it is also the first which sees the installation of bi-metallic aluminum/steel conductors, instead of traditional copper conductors.
1940 - 1960
After the halt in works due to the Second World War, business starts to roar from 1947 onwards. The national grid is almost completely to be built from scratch. During these years the company is awarded a number of major contracts for the construction of several power lines, working for most of the electricity companies of the period such as: Edison Volta (Milan) S.I.P. (Turin), AEM (Milan), ACEA (Rome), S.M.E. (Naples), Montecatini and various compartments of the State Railway Authorities. The company specialises mainly in the construction of 220 kV power lines that now represent the backbone of the electricity grid. The construction of 132/150 kV and 70 kV power lines still continue.
1960 - 1970
Enel, National Agency for Electric Energy, is founded to bring together all the private Italian electricity companies and therefore becomes the firm's main contractor.
Work continues on the construction of the electricity grid and Enel introduces the new type of power lines - AATT at 380 kV that will form the main axis of the national grid.
In 1962 the company is awarded the works for the construction of its first 380 kV project called "La Spezia - Arquata Scrivia" line (the current La Spezia - Vignole Borbera line).
With the adoption of this type of power line, the company also finally adopts the braked type stringing line system.
From that date onwards, the 380 kV power lines will represent the company's main business compartment.
In 1965, at the warehouse at the headquarters in Endine (BG), a company business branch was founded called "Cantamessa GF" (later on Cantamessa SE, and subsequently incorporated by merger by TESMEC SpA) dedicated to the design and construction of equipment used for the installation and stringing of power lines.
The operational experience gained by the company will prove to be extremely useful for the development of machinery for the stringing of high voltage power lines. The high quality of the products and innovative principles presented by Cantamessa SE allows it to carve out important spaces on the reference world market.
The end of the decade witnesses the second generational change at the helm of the company that now takes the name of "CFE Cantamessa".
1970 - 1980
The construction of major 380 kV power lines continues to thrive.
Among the many contracts, the company is awarded the tender for the construction of the first section of the experimental 1000 kV power line at Enel test fields at Viverone.
Exploiting the consistent technological development of the period, the company develops and fine-tunes new operating methods that, after being tested at the test fields at the Endine plant, are installed successively at different work sites.
In particular, it is the first company in Italy to introduce innovations to the production process, such as:
mounting of power line pylon systems using mobile cranes (2 axes - 25 ton capacity): 1972 - 380 kV Poggio a Caiano - Suvereto line;
stringing system for conductor carrying cables that allows the stringing of 5 or 7 carrying cables starting from a single pilot cable: 1975 - 380 kV Salgareda - Dolo line;
project for the application of micropile type foundations to the pylons for the 380 kV power lines and the development of the drilling unit, with a compressed air rotary and percussion drilling system, for the execution of works in high mountain areas: 1977 - 380 kV S.Fiorano - Nave line;
stringing of pilot/carrying cable by helicopter: 1978 - 380 kV S.Fiorano - Nave line.
1980 - 2000
The company increases its cooperation with its sister company Cantamessa SE for the development of machinery and equipment in general, dedicated to the stringing of power lines. This aims to improve technical performance related to qualitative aspects of the work and safety of the operators. In the mid 80s the company equipped itself with a new type of machinery, tensioners (winch/brake) with all the synchronised stringing control systems.
As far as the tender contracts are concerned, one of the major contract worth a mention is the construction of a section of the 380 kV Albertville (France) - Rondissone line: a section high in the mountains, equipped with a large diameter single conductor ACSR measuring 56.26 mm.
At the end of the 80s, in a joint venture with Sae Sadelmi, the company is awarded the contract for the construction of the experimental section of the 1050 kV Suvereto line, consisting of roughly 4 km of cable with "circus" type stay-cable pylons with 3-phase bundle-conductors with eight sub-conductors. The contract also includes the study of the work methods, the design & engineering and realisation of all the specific equipment. As part of the joint venture, Cantamessa - with the collaboration of its associated company Cantamessa SE - realises all the equipment and the on-site work required to string the conductors. The experience gained during this contract would prove useful during the removal of the same line, commissioned by Enel to the company in the early 2000s.
A system is developed and fine-tuned using a helicopter for the dismantling operations of the pylons installed on the 380 kV Gorlago - S.Fiorano line. The work is carried out in the summer of 1995 with a helicopter supplied by the Norwegian company 'Helicopter Service' with a 3 ton capacity.
Together with the associated company Cantamessa SE, the company provides consultancy services for the stringing activities and the use of tensioners to a number of major Italian, European and Far Eastern enterprises. In addition is also supplied stringing machinery and equipment together with operators specialised in operating the same.
Enel introduces "turnkey" type tender contracts commissioning enterprises to supply all the materials and components in addition to the execution of works.
With this type of contract, during this period, the company erects approximately 400 km of 380 kV power lines, in simple and double circuits.
In 1996 the company implemented its own Quality System, in accordance with the EN ISO 9002 standard requirements, duly certified by the responsible bodies. Subsequent developments lead to the implementation and certification of a new system in accordance with EN ISO 9001.
Enel starts the campaign for the installation of new shielded cables incorporating optical fibres on their HV power lines. Within this context, the company was awarded a number of major tender contracts, installing a total of approximately 3000 km of OPGW.
Enel's Transmission Division is incorporated by the new enterprise Terna SpA, which encompasses all the activities of the Division and, for the next phases, it becomes the manager and owner of the National Transmission Network. From this date onwards Terna becomes the reference contractor for the firm.
With a merger by incorporation transaction, the associated company Cantamessa SE is incorporated by TESMEC SpA, thus creating a world leader group on the power line machinery and equipment market. The close collaboration with Cantamessa SE continues with the newly formed group.
2000 - 2010
Work continues on the installation of OPGW on HV power lines.The company is awarded a major contract, in joint ventures with Alcatel, for the Basictel project which involves the design, supply and installation of approximately 1300 km of OPGW of 132 kV OPGW power lines owned by the State Railways.
At the same time, it is also awarded contracts for the construction of buried telecommunication networks. In this regard, the company acquired a system for the laying of optical fiber cables in buried pipelines, with the compressed air blowing system, from the US firm Condux.
Among the works related to 380 kV power lines, one of the most important is the replacement of the large 50 mm diameter single ACSR conductor - anaconda type, on the 380 kV Soazza - Bovisio power line, in joint venture with Mazzalai SpA. This work is extremely significant due to the location of the power line, in a high mountain area between Val Chiavenna and Valsassina.
The company realises other HV power lines, among which the 380 kV Laino - Rizziconi double circuit line, where the company constructs the "experimental" section using single-stem tubular pylons with insulating brackets, inside the Pollino Park. The company develops a pylon erection system with overlapping poles using a special helicopter. The system is developed in collaboration with the US company Erikson Air Crane and involves the use of the S-64 helicopter to install 6 pylons, for a total of about 30 hoisting operation of weights of up to 10 tons / each.
At the same time, the company designs the methodology and equipment - that it also installs - for the execution of the stringing operations of this new type of pylons fitted with insulating brackets.
The experimented collaboration with Erikson Air Crane, thereafter European Air Crane, allows the development of the pylon installation method with a helicopter. This method of autonomous coupling of the various poles provides a pylon installation system without the need for operators to perform height work and, therefore, proves to be a highly effective method for the protection of the physical safety of the workers.
Installation exploiting this innovative system is used in the construction works of the 380 kV double circuit Laino - Rizziconi power line.
The company is awarded, in joint venture with Rebaioli SpA, the construction of a section of the power line connecting Italy and Switzerland, with a 380 kV double circuit S. Fiorano - Robbia line, for a length of about 20 km, in a high mountain area, for a total of roughly 6,000 tons of steel structures for the pylons. The Contractor considered this to be a "strategic" plant system to be built in just six months. The joint venture enterprises reach the goal and the power line is up and running on time.
They are also awarded 2 "turnkey" contracts for the construction of as many 380 kV power lines.
In a joint venture with Rebaioli SpA, for the contractor AceaElectrabel: design, supply of all materials and construction of the mixed overhead/underground 380 kV, Centrale Leinì - SE RTN Leinì (TO) power line.
For Ansaldo Energia - end customer En Plus: design, supply of materials and construction of the 380 kV Centrale S. Severo - SE RTN S. Severo power line.
The company is awarded the tender contract for the construction of the 380 kV Tavarnuzze - Cesellina power line. Furthermore, the contract includes the construction of a section of the power line adopting a new pylon type called "Foster" after the British architect who designed it.For this new type of power line, the company designs the work methods for all the different phases, designing and manufacturing all the necessary equipment, handing over part of the same together with the relevant know-how, to the Contractor Terna for subsequent maintenance activities.The work was completed in 2010, with the commissioning of the power line.
2010 - 2016
The company is awarded some Framework Contracts by Terna SpA for the construction of HV power lines, among which the most significant being the construction of 5 Large Plants consisting in double circuit 380 kV lines in different areas between Chignolo Po, Trino Vercellese, Rizziconi, Malcontenta and Udine.
These works involve the installation of around 200 single-stem tubular pylons with insulating brackets, of which about 90% using the S-64 helicopter and the remaining 10% with a high capacity mobile crane.
From 2017 to 2020 the company continued with the activities of maintenance of the overhead power lines on behalf of the customer Terna Rete Italia SpA, through various activations on the national territory pursuant the existing framework contracts for the 132 kV sector and for the sector up to 400 kV.
Furthermore, new expansion interventions were carried out as well as installations of special carbon core conductors following the qualification obtained from the manufacturing companies.