As part of the strategy development process, Energie AG's major sustainability issues are regularly evaluated and undergo continuous improvement with the involvement of internal interested parties (e.g. Management Board, executives, employees, Supervisory Board and owners) and external stakeholders (e.g. customers, communities close to the Company's projects, representatives from political and administrative systems, banks, insurance companies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs)). Sustainability topics were rated in a materiality matrix from ”important“ to ”highly important“. The quantitative and qualitative key performance indicators to be measured were set based on this evaluation matrix. The matrix was adapted according to the results of the 2019/2020 strategy process and updated in July 2020.
The major sustainability issues for the Energie AG Group are described in the following sections:
- Partnership with equity investors and outside creditors
- Business models fit for the future – innovation
- Security and quality of supply
- Customer orientation and satisfaction
- Regional responsibility and social commitment
- Climate protection
- Resource conservation
- Acting as a responsible employer
- Workplace health and safety
- Legal compliance and prevention of corruption
Energie AG utilises the pro-active stakeholder dialogue as a valuable strategic instrument and has defined it as an essential pillar for initiatives in the field of sustainability.
Among the Group's many stakeholders, Energie AG affords special attention to its customers and employees. The intense exchange with internal and external stakeholders is mainly used to satisfy the needs of customers in the best possible way.
The newly established customer forum is a place where current sales projects are subjected to a critical and constructive dialogue, see Social affairs, customer focus.
Under the remit of the Group's socio-political responsibility, Energie AG is seeking to engage in a direct contact with its stakeholders on regional and interregional events and at the occasion of the regional sales roadshow. These contacts serve the purpose of informing customers about practical solutions for a responsible consumption of natural energy sources.
Transparent information and communication is important to the Energie AG Group, in particular in the case of infrastructure projects that interfere with sensitive habitats and biospheres. In order to arrive at the greatest possible consensus and understanding for the measures, the affected stakeholders are already provided with information about the projects during the early planning phase and are directly involved in selected procedural steps.
A prime example of sustainable cooperation is the citizen participation model that was implemented for the waste incineration plant in Wels. The project has been running since 1991, making it the longest and most successful active model of a public participation, mediation and project environment management process.
The central element of this model is an Environmental Commission, which acts as a link between Energie AG as the operator of the waste incineration plant and the neighbouring communities. Thanks to open and honest communication that went hand in hand with assuring a proper process, this approach has created and sustainably fostered an atmosphere of mutual understanding and trust.
The model was extended by Energie AG's principles on democratic politics, which articulate the Group's voluntary commitment to considering the interests of stakeholders affected by construction projects and approval proceedings in particular beyond the scope prescribed by law.
The “Guidelines for planning processes for new high-voltage routes” developed in March 2017 serve the purpose of preventing conflicts in grid construction/extension projects, and especially with regard to the planned routes for 110-kV high voltage lines. Emulating the proven route planning process in civil engineering, these guidelines assure that the objectively best possible route is identified from a broad interdisciplinary perspective on the basis of established fundamental principles.
The state of Upper Austria applied these guidelines for the first time at the occasion of the Mühlviertel Electricity Supply project (110-kV project Rohrbach – Bad Leonfelden – Rainbach, a joint project between Netz OÖ and LINZ NETZ GmbH) and discussed the advantages and disadvantages of potential routes with all interested stakeholders. The detail planning also took place in close consultation and direct dialogue with the property owners.
To optimise internal processes and procedures, Energie AG Group is holding internal competitions for the best ideas that will allow the Group to harness the wealth of practical experience and creative potential of its employees (projects “Neuland”, “Loominati”). The winning projects are determined in a multi-stage selection process and implemented without any further delay. This opportunity to become directly involved in shaping the Company's fortunes affords special appreciation to the project team members, while the optimised processes benefit the Group as well as the employees and customers affected by them. Also see Economy, innovation.
Energie AG acknowledges that the Company's success depends on the commitment of its employees and therefore seeks to solidify its reputation as an attractive employer and to offer a work environment that not only offers interesting development opportunities, but also accommodates the individual needs of its employees.
Further information and initiatives pursued by Energie AG Group with the aim of satisfying the needs and giving consideration to the interests of this important group of stakeholders can be found in section Employees – responsible employer.
The foundation for the implementation of our stakeholder management is the Code of Conduct of the Energie AG Group titled “This is how we think, this is how we act”. The Code defines the principles that underpin fair, transparent and sustainable business practices. Every single employee endorses and commits to these principles.
The non-financial information of Energie AG is supplemented by reports in relevant media in Upper Austria and across Austria on topics that touch on the affairs of the Group.
In the reporting period, the media landscape was to the largest extent dominated by reports connected to the COVID-19 pandemic. The media reported in a positive light about the public presence of Energie AG as a reliable supplier of system-critical infrastructure and services who supported the in parts extremely anxious population during the statewide COVID-19 lockdown with its intense efforts to warrant the uninterrupted supply with energy and infrastructure.
The media also mentioned current infrastructure projects (construction of routes, power plant projects to expand and secure the electricity supply etc.), ecological measures (e.g. fish ladders) and topics in the area of environmental and climate protection connected with the Federal Government's ambitious goals and requirements related to the energy transition.