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02/28/2005 - Terabyte Triangle Welcomes Pondera Engineers

Pondera Engineers create software for the Utility Power Industry. The company formed in August 2004, and in October signed an agreement with Itron granting Pondera rights to Itron’s power delivery software. The engineers in this new company are all veterans of utility engineering and software, going back twenty years to Bates Engineering, which developed TLCADD, the original utility line design and optimization software.

Bates was sold to LineSoft; LineSoft to Itron; then Itron granted Pondera rights. Itron left the utility power business but had an interest in aiding the establishment of a company to help with maintenance of some of Itron’s customers using other power industry products. Pondera’s engineers were key players in the creation of the power utility software that was previously in Itron’s portfolio. Pondera is a wholly independent company, now located in the SIRTI Bulding.

Pondera provides transmission and substation engineering software and associated implementation, and consulting engineering services. Utility Power engineers have to be well versed in civil engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical, and structural engineering, and they need tools to support them. Pondera’s products are available commercially, are installed in the field, and can run on a normal laptop.

Pondera’s premier product is TL-Pro Design Studio which was custom built using C++. In creating TL-Pro, the engineers took advantage of modern computer gaming technology and used 3-D visuals and animation, with as much graphics as possible. Using TL-Pro, a client can site their power lines over realistic terrain that can be obtained from satellite images and perform a virtual “fly-by”. Engineering tools are built in for calculating the effects of various levels of power load – the more amps, the more the lines will sag and stress the utility’s structure. The program has an optimization algorithm that aids in the placement of utility poles over any terrain. Use of optimization typically saves 15% to 20% over any manual spotting method -- which translates into multi-millions of dollars in savings in construction costs. It also saves resources. TL-Pro even hooks into most material accounting packages to access the costs as other variables change.

Michael Dolan, Managing Partner, stressed the need for power line optimization. “Before investing in an expensive new power line structure, the existing power lines should be studied and their use optimized,” says Dolan. “Power networks,” he says, “are a complex matrix of power flow.” To help with optimization, Pondera has software called “Nip&Tuck.” Using Nip&Tuck, existing power lines can be surveyed with LiDAR technology, the models can be built, and simulations can be run to assess how a set of lines can have their tension strategically changed on a localized level to increase carrying capacity. If, with increased power, the lines sag into vegetation, outages may result. If the line tension is too great, as in the case where the sag is mechanically reduced to allow for increased power flow, then structures could fail. Nip&Tuck aids engineers in determining the exact balance and in determining cost alternatives.

Along with TL-Pro Design Studio, Nip&Tuck, and TLCADD, Pondera has LD-DigiCAD that is used to digitize existing hardcopy profile drawings into electronic form. This is useful to utilities who want to digitize older hand drawn plans. The digitized plan can be used to create profile data for design and analysis in TL-Pro or TLCADD.

Pondera is constantly researching and developing new tools for the Energy Market. Current research is underway in the area of wind generator optimization and visualization. Soon to be released is Substation Designer. This software will enable substation planners or engineers to perform the processes needed to plan, design, and site their substation projects.

For more information about Pondera Engineers, LLC, contact Michael Dolan, Managing Partner at (509) 358-2075 or e-mail

Billie Moreland
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