Management Board from left to right: Dr. Andreas Kolar, Member of the Management Board, Chief Executive Officer DDr. Werner Steinecker MBA, Chairman of the Management Board, Dipl.-Ing. Stefan Stallinger MBA, Member of the Management Board
For more information, hover over the members of the Management Board.
The members of the Management Board have also made video statements about the past fiscal year at Energie AG, which are available in our online Annual Report: www.energieag.at/annualreport
In the year under review, you were able to further boost efficiency in the company by integrating the sales divisions. How do customers stand to benefit?
Werner Steinecker: We were able to announce the successful implementation of the new sales company back in April 2019, so just short of a year after the withdrawal from joint venture ENAMO was publicised. On 1 April, the employees of the new sales company, Vertrieb GmbH, moved into the building previously occupied by ENAMO. This move was an important organisational step and a really significant symbol for the utilities merger. We’ll see benefits both from the sales processes, which have now been integrated, and from reducing bureaucratic and regulatory burdens, such as the way the General Data Protection Regulation applied to the former joint venture. It’s clear that simplifying our interface to the customer will provide added value for both sides. By embracing the idea of a one-stop shop, we can now offer combined products from our electricity, gas and telecoms utilities.
“In terms of operations, we can look back on a great year and be proud of the work that’s been done.” Werner Steinecker
In addition to sales, the generation units have also been strategically realigned while water and heating activities have been pooled in the Czech Republic. What will be the advantages of these company changes?
Stefan Stallinger: Evolving towards a renewable energy system requires the generation facilities spread across different localities to be operated efficiently in order to remain competitive in the market. By merging the generation units for electricity and heat, including the heating networks, we’re creating a strong company from both an internal and an external point of view. Setting a consistent direction of travel for our core activities across the board will leave us well prepared for the questions and challenges of our renewable energy future. I’m particularly pleased with the excellent work that’s been done. But I’m also encouraged by the open-mindedness and willingness to change displayed by our managers and employees, who implemented this project without external consultants, using their own specialist knowledge.
Andreas Kolar: The newly created Czech Republic segment brings together our water and heating business activities in the Czech Republic. More than anything else, the sensitive area of water supply services hinges on our most fundamental skill – working as a stable and reliable partner. Supply reliability and supply quality are our number one priority. Bringing the eight water companies and six heating companies under the umbrella of Energie AG Bohemia will guarantee even higher standards in this area. External parties have confirmed our high degree of care and attention, as well as the sound reasons behind decisions we’ve previously made and are still planning to implement.
“Energie AG Oberösterreich certainly has an excellent credit rating. Our successful track record was confirmed when we received an outstanding ‘A’ rating with a stable outlook.” Andreas Kolar
This year’s financial result is significantly influenced by value adjustments. Are you satisfied with that result?
Werner Steinecker: In terms of operations, we can look back on a great year and be proud of the work that’s been done. Sensible financial decisions that are necessary for the future have been taken so we can continue moving in a successful commercial direction for many years to come.
Andreas Kolar: The appreciations recorded are due to the full consolidation of the sales companies, which had become necessary and took effect this year. The second big reason is an appreciation in value of the Timelkam combined-cycle plant. This impairment is a result of changes in how the electricity grid’s value is measured. Due to the lack of comparable transactions, the previous measurement method based on comparisons within the industry was no longer possible. The value is now measured based on forecasts for future returns. This impairment is a one-off effect and will promote stable future development.
Climate policy is an important issue – if not the central issue – in current political discussions. Examples include the Austrian Federal Government’s #mission2030, the President of the European Council’s Green Deal and the Climate Action Programme 2030 in Germany.
Stefan Stallinger: To make the goals that have been set achievable, the appropriate conditions also need to be put in place. In that context, we’re awaiting the 2020 Renewable Energies Expansion Act and the new Electricity Industry Organisation Act with interest. Time is of the essence if the goals are to be achieved.
By consistently expanding the use of renewable energy sources, we’re making an important contribution to achieving the climate targets for 2030. We’re sustainably promoting regional hydroelectric power with our projects in Dürnau, Bad Goisern and the power plants along the River Traun. Due to the increasing share of volatile electricity sources, such as photovoltaic systems and wind power, it’s also essential to invest in supply reliability. This also means it’s necessary to expand the electricity grid’s storage capacity and power lines. As a group of companies, security and stability are a key part of our mission – and naturally, that also applies to the reliability of our power supply.
“By pooling the generation units for electricity and heat, including the heating grids, we’re creating a strong company from both an internal and an external point of view.” Stefan Stallinger
Interest rates are at a historic low. Is this the starting point needed for capital investments to be made in infrastructure and sustainable electricity generation?
Andreas Kolar: It is absolutely true that the low interest rates and high availability of capital create a very good market environment for further projects. However, the decisive factor for capital expenditure is the expected return. So we have to examine very carefully whether capital expenditure will actually increase the company’s value. Energie AG Oberösterreich certainly has an excellent credit rating. Our successful track record was confirmed when we received an outstanding ‘A’ rating with a stable outlook. That has helped to make us one of Europe’s leading utility companies for 20 years.
Along with the transition to clean energy, innovation and the establishment of new business models are the most important challenges facing the energy industry. Within the company, how do you ensure you have the ability to innovate?
Werner Steinecker: One of the prerequisites for sustainable success is an ability to identify trends early on and make them a practical reality as quickly as possible. As far as speeding up the implementation of new business models, we’ve created a new platform for that purpose with Wertstatt 8, which will be an innovation-focused company within our Group. Ideas thought up within the company can be quickly put into action by applying the principle of “build-measure-learn”. At the same time, innovations that build on one another, continually and gradually improving existing products, services, processes or business models, will continue to be advanced in the business units.
Further developments in technology and processes are based on the digitalisation strategy that’s been in place since 2017. What priorities have you decided on this year?
Andreas Kolar: We have focused on optimising existing business processes through the use of automation (robotics process automation or RPA). Users benefit from the automation of repetitive tasks, allowing them to dedicate themselves to other activities that are better equipped to add value. At the same time, RPA technology reduces susceptibility to errors, and work can be performed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The automation has already paid off in terms of efficiency gains alone. Of course, the integration of the sales divisions offers an enormous opportunity for harmonising the IT system landscape. We’re currently working all-out to make that happen.
Providing regional services is a major priority for Energie AG. How does this regional approach add value for customers?
Werner Steinecker: At Energie AG Oberösterreich, we have strong roots in Upper Austria and the regions in which we operate. As well as serving our customers, we also create and sustain jobs while taking responsibility for the environment in our country. So regional added value is a key part of our identity and our work. While regional factors already play an important role in customers’ choices about food and other products, public awareness about the commodity market isn’t yet as strong in that regard. Our goal is to raise awareness among our customers about regional issues in our sector as well.
Our shareholders also consist of strong players with regional backgrounds – and we’d like to thank them for their support in the successful development of the company. In particular, Markus Achleitner, a state minister who we were pleased to welcome as chairman of the Supervisory Board during this fiscal year. And we’d also like to express our sincere gratitude to our committed and skilled employees. The work they do is vital for our success as a business.
A customer-focused approach is at the heart of our mission as a company, so we’d like to thank our customers and partners for the trust they’ve placed in us! Our new sales structure will allow us to further improve the quality of services we have to offer.