Energie AG utilises open stakeholder dialogue as a valuable strategic instrument and has defined it as an essential pillar for initiatives in the field of sustainability.
Energy AG Group is maintaining extensive relations with different groups of stakeholders:
Among the Group’s many stakeholders, Energie AG affords special attention to its customers. The intense exchange with internal and external stakeholders is mainly used to satisfy the needs of customers in the best possible way. The Group also seeks to stay in contact with existing, new and potential staff members. In terms of future employees, this is on the one hand facilitated by the Group’s presence at job fairs held at secondary schools, technical colleges and universities. On the other hand, discussions with new employees, apprentices and their parents as well as student interns are held to precisely analyse and adequately accommodate the interests of the various stakeholder groups. The strong focus on employees in 2021/2022 was also reflected in the Trend award as Austria’s best employer, which saw Energie AG taking the first place among 1,400 Austrian employers from 19 industry sectors.
The 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 direct contact with stakeholders on regional and interregional events, e.g. at the occasion of Energie AG’s 130th anniversary, 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 model has been running since 1991, making it the longest 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 the Energie AG Group as the operator of the waste incineration plant and the neighbouring communities. Thanks to open and transparent communication that went hand in hand with assuring a compliant process (compliance with emission limits, minimising noise and smell), this approach has created and sustainably fostered an atmosphere of mutual understanding and trust. The 100th meeting of the Commission for Environmental Policy was celebrated in the summer of 2022.
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 infrastructure 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.
These guidelines were applied 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). The advantages and disadvantages of potential routes were discussed with all interested parties. This process delivers a planning corridor in which the project operators can prepare the detail planning in close consultation and direct dialogue with the landowners.
The Energie AG Group 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.
The contact to schools, educational institutions and associations is fostered in cooperation projects, network events and sponsoring as well as at the various trade exhibitions. The modern job application platform “digiTalent” facilitates the professional communication with job candidates. The dialogue with staff members starts with the student interns, who in the summer of 2022 were invited to a “school interns breakfast event” held at the Group’s headquarters in Linz. Among other measures, surveys are used for the purpose of including the internal stakeholders. Feedback from the individual managers and employees is collected on many measures such as personnel and management development events, projects and regulations with the aim of deriving an action plan from them.
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.
Further information and initiatives pursued by Energie AG Group with the aim of considering the wishes and needs of this important group of stakeholders can be found in section Employees – responsible employer.
The foundation for the implementation of the Group’s stakeholder management is Energie AG’s Code of Conduct titled “This is how we think, this is how we act” and the “Code of Conduct for Contractors”, which was introduced in Austria in fiscal year 2021/2022. The codes define the principles that underpin fair, transparent and sustainable business practices. Every single employee and contractor endorses and commits to these principles: responsibility, reliability, quality awareness, sustainability, transparency, respect, integrity and non-discrimination.
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. The media interest in fiscal year 2021/2022 focused on Energie AG’s activities in the context of the dramatic price developments on the energy markets since the autumn months of 2021 and on the threat of shortages in Europe’s supply with natural gas from Russia stemming from the war between Russia and Ukraine. The media responded positively to the initiatives of Energie AG Group seeking to secure the energy supply and drive the further development of renewable energies, manifest in the extension of the SolarCampus in Eberstalzell and the impressive progress made in expanding the electricity grid in Upper Austria.
The media also reported in fond words on Energie AG’s social initiatives (helping customers with a price guarantee, temporary special conditions for business customers etc.) as well as those aimed at promoting the efficient use of energy. The accolades were mainly focused on Energie AG’s special offers in the area of sustainability, e.g. the reports on the measurement of the CO2 footprint by Energie AG’s subsidiary IfEA Institut für Energieausweis GmbH (IfEA), the promotion of renewable energy syndicates, the presentation of the regional E-Partner network, and the E-Fairteiler app for solar electricity as well as the sustainability certification of Netz OÖ GmbH.
The press was also greatly interested in Energie AG’s initiatives related to the continued development of the fibre-optic network and Energie AG Group’s involvement in the initiatives of the Province of Upper Austria that seek to provide the state’s population with high-performance internet.