Powering Peace of Mind
In 1952, the Paul R. Gilbert Electric Company began serving the entertainment industry providing power for most of the high profile television broadcasts at that time. One of the first productions powered was the live broadcast of the 1953 Academy Awards. Saunders Electric purchased Paul R. Gilbert Electric in 1988 and Saunders continued the tradition of providing the highest quality power service to the Entertainment Industry. With the acquisition of Paul R. Gilbert Electric Company, Saunders has the distinction of having powered every live broadcast of the Academy Awards since 1953. Over the years, Saunders developed a reputation for an unequaled pursuit of excellence and has become an industry icon.
This iconic status requires us to maintain and pursue our passion to be the highest quality power provider on a daily basis. Our “iconic” status began with Russell Saunders’ vision to provide the best power solutions for the live broadcast industry. Providing reliable portable power for live broadcasts, live events and television productions since 1952, we’ve been on the forefront of many changes in the broadcast industry. Russell applied strict power design standards for the equipment we used and specific installation protocols for equipment installed on these live shows. As the company grew, we recognized that these power design standards for the installation of equipment ensured redundancy across many levels of power distribution techniques thus resulting in the best reliability track record in the industry; power failure is not an option in our live world.
Changing the way live television was powered, Russell Saunders was awarded an Engineering Emmy® for development of the Mobile Synchronous Power System in 1995 and a second Engineering Emmy® in 2016 for the Mobile UPS System, demonstrating our continuing exploration of new and better technology for powering television and live broadcasts. We are the only power provider to ever receive an Engineering Emmy®.
To ensure his legacy continues, Russell has implemented and invested in extensive training programs that ensure Saunders’ crew continues to deliver the power design standards he established. Our people are committed to the Saunders legacy of quality,high standards of service, and strict maintenance protocols for our equipment. Powering Peace of Mind starts with all our people and is what truly makes us stand out above the rest.
Family owned and operated, Saunders is an innovation leader in energy saving systems, and in the past was an alternative energy partner with Sandia National Laboratories with hydrogen fuel cell technology. We believe hydrogen fuel cell technology will be the next step in the greening of television production. Learn more about Saunders below in our historic timeline!
Paul R. Gilbert Electric powers the first live broadcast of the Academy Awards in 1953. It was simulcast from Hollywood’s Pantages Theatre and the NBC Theatre in New York City. And Paul’s company powers every subsequent Academy Awards until Saunders Electric purchases Paul’s company and continues the tradition to today!
Saunders Electric & Young Generators collaborate to build the first Mobile Synchronous System. Saunders builds the Mobile Power Distribution Trailer and Young modifies one of their 300kW generators to “synchronize” with land line power through the Mobile Power Distribution Trailer. The first show powered by this system is the 1995 Academy Awards and that same year, both companies are awarded an Engineering Emmy®
Saunders powers the International Compound for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia for 59 consecutive days with no loss of power utilizing the Emmy® Award winning Mobile Synchronous System.
Saunders introduces 30A lunchboxes (original design shown here) for Edison distribution changing the way Edison tech distribution power is installed for live shows and providing better 3Ø three phase power balancing for loads on 3Ø generators. 30A Distros were designed with a 200A main, providing multiple L2130 connectors on 10/5 SO cable to feed lunchboxes on three phases. These lunchboxes were designed to have two Edison outlets per phase and each outlet had its own over current protection.
Russell Saunders and Tad Scripter work with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) during construction of the Hollywood / Highland complex and the new Hollywood home for the Oscars at the Kodak Theatre (now known as the Dolby Theater.) Together, they designed hidden cable pathways enabling portable power cable and fiber to be easily installed between the P2 level and all levels up to level 5 through columns with hidden doors, architectural elements were designed to accommodate attachment of lighting and other fixtures without damage to the complex, and an underground manhole system was introduced to get fiber feeds from the main show and red carpet to the areas behind the El Capitan Theater on the South side of Hollywood Boulevard where the domestic press and international compounds broadcast the show around the world.
Saunders builds its first two Live Broadcast Power Trucks to attract ESPN with the ability to haul a trailer behind a Live Broadcast Power Truck built with two 1400A paralleling generators on deck and save transportation costs and compound footprint size for our customers.
Saunders builds and deploys our first two Single Mobile UPS power trailers for use at The Talk and Big Brother replacing the manned Mobile Synchronous Systems used previously for both shows. The Mobile UPS systems were designed to run unattended by a technician with remote monitoring and, in fact, have been utilized unmanned since replacing the Mobile Synchronous System. The UPS Systems also provide voltage regulation and do not require the generator to be running. The generators are placed in AutoStart and the system will automatically turn on the generator, bring it up to full speed and step the loads over to the generator with no loss of power. And then shift the loads back to land line utility source once the system senses the return of that power source and it remains stable for 20 minutes.
Saunders Electric worked with the Department of Defense and Sandia National Labs from 2010 -2012 to help develop and deploy a hydrogen fuel cell powered light tower. There were many business partners in the project that contributed parts and pieces. Saunders role was involved in obtaining permits for use by the Los Angeles Fire Department & Los Angeles Building & Safety Department and using the equipment in real environments to test the reliability and usability of the units. With Hollywood’s obsession with green technology, the Hydrogen Fuel Cell light tower was embraced by the producers of The Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild and the Academy Awards to provide overnight lighting on their respective Red Carpets (in lieu of noisy gasoline powered units) and they were used from 2010 -2012 on these events. A little before their time, access to and availability of Hydrogen fuel was cumbersome and quite a distance from these events. The light towers themselves, as prototypes, were expensive to manufacture so at that time, while embraced by Hollywood (and provided free), producers weren’t willing to spend the higher price for green technology. Over time with more availability/access to Hydrogen fuel, we believe this will become the future of backup power generation in the future especially for our Mobile UPS Systems.
After the start of the SEC Sports network, Saunders builds first POD style UPS in response to SEC colleges asking “Why are we required to provide power for the broadcast compounds and you (ESPN) are powering our show with paralleling generators?” Working with Rex Arends from ESPN, Russ Saunders, Frank Soggiu and Bill Kanne from Saunders designed a unit that could be easily swapped with a generator on an Live Broadcast Power Truck, week to week depending on available power sources for the College Football season.
Responding once again to customer needs, Saunders builds a trailer that houses a POD style UPS, Autostart Generators, and a 20′ iso-container that transports equipment between college football games each week and doubles onsite as an office trailer, further saving the customer additional money.
Saunders team is asked to join the newly created Science and Technology Peer Group for the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Five members (Russ Saunders, Candace Saunders, Courtney Saunders, Jamie Ewing and Frank Soggiu) become members of the Academy and are now involved in the selection and award of Engineering Emmys as well as being able to vote in the general primetime Emmy® categories for best TV Show.