Dialogue with stakeholders

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.

The different interest groups below were identified in the course of the established strategy development process:

Dialogue with stakeholders (organigram)

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. To deepen the dialogue with customers, current sales projects are open to critical and constructive dialogue in the context of the customer forum, see Social affairs, Customer orientation and satisfaction.

To meet its socio-political responsibilities, Energie AG seeks direct contact with stakeholders at regional and interregional events such as trade shows. In this way, the company presents practical solutions for the responsible use of natural energy resources to customers.

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.

One prime example of sustainable collaboration is the model applied to the waste incineration plant in Wels. Built in 1991, the plant represents the longest successfully practised public participation, mediation and project environment management process in Europe. 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 emissions), this approach has created and sustainably fostered an atmosphere of mutual understanding and trust.

Energie AG's principles on democratic politics were developed based on this model and they 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 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 first applied 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 delivered a planning corridor in which the project operators will prepare the detail planning in close consultation and direct dialogue with the landowners. In preparation for the environmental impact assessment that will be carried out, the required environmental impact statement is being drafted.

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.

Among other measures, surveys are used for the purpose of including the internal stakeholders (e.g. survey on training needs). 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.

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 contact to schools, educational institutions and associations is fostered in cooperation projects and networks, through sponsoring as well as at the various trade exhibitions. The modern job application platform “digiTalent” facilitates the professional communication with job candidates. Ongoing exchanges with employees start at the level of student interns. In the summer of 2023, for example, interns were invited to breakfast at Group headquarters in Linz before taking an excursion to two operational sites.

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 (“Neuland” project, “Loominati” idea management system). Employees’ project ideas are practically implemented in various formats. This opportunity to become directly involved in shaping the Company's fortunes affords special appreciation to the 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 the Energie AG Group'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 of conduct define the principles that underpin fair, transparent and sustainable business practices. Every single employee and contractor of Energie AG endorses and commits to these principles: responsibility, reliability, quality awareness, sustainability, transparency, respect, integrity and non-discrimination.

Media analysis

The sustainability communications of Energie AG are supplemented with reports on corporate issues in relevant Upper Austrian and national media outlets. In the 2022/2023 fiscal year, two issues dominated media reporting: the development of energy prices and Group activities in support of energy transition and climate neutrality targets.

As regards the energy price trend, the price guarantee extended to existing customers until the end of 2022 received approving mentions in the press. Also acknowledged was the steady stream of measures taken by the Energie AG Group with a view to easing the pressure on the entire customer base following tariff adjustments at the beginning of 2023 necessitated by the market situation.

To give some examples, reports appeared on the waiver of power cut-offs in the event of late payment, the free power days introduced for young families, the relief packages put together for commercial businesses and farmers and the string of price reductions with which Energie AG responded to the gradual relaxation on the energy markets during the spring of 2023.

The adjustments to electricity prices at the beginning of 2023 also gave rise to legal issues. Given the challenges to the legal conformity of the price increases for electricity introduced by many companies in the industry on the basis of the new legal situation, Energie AG and special interest groups agreed on a quick, customer-friendly and practicable solution in order to avoid a legal dispute lasting many years.

The expansion of the services offered by the Energie AG Group to help its customers enhance their energy efficiency was also the subject of reporting, for example in connection with the Energy Saving Academy newly introduced at the Energy Saving Trade Fair 2023.

The huge range of activities that Energie AG undertakes in the context of the energy transition and climate neutrality, including the trebling of feed-in tariffs for producers of PV electricity as announced in October 2022, received widespread media coverage. The same applied to Energie AG’s support for innovative technologies. Reports covered the funding pledged in February 2023 for the installation of heat pumps and the Group’s involvement in research projects concerned with the use of hydrogen for energy storage and generation.

In particular, the media focused on the strategy project “LOOP”, which will enable the Group to achieve climate neutrality by 2035 while transforming the energy system of Upper Austria. In this context, the press devoted many column inches to the pumped-storage power plant Ebensee approved in the 2022/2023 fiscal year as well as the many planned projects aimed at increasing the prevalence of renewable energies.