The first half of the 2022/2023 fiscal year was characterised by an extremely challenging energy industry landscape attributable to the ongoing uncertain geopolitical and energy policy situation. The Russian war of aggression on Ukraine and the resulting concerns about supply meant that the price volatility on the energy markets had a considerable impact on the development of business and key figures of Energie AG Oberösterreich during the reporting period. Despite the recent downward trend, market prices for electricity at the semi-year balance sheet date were almost three times higher than two years ago. In view of the prevailing and highly challenging macroeconomic framework conditions, we feel all the more committed to our social responsibility and will therefore continue to make every effort within our sphere of influence to ensure high security of supply in the ongoing energy industry crisis and to be a fair and loyal partner to our customers.
The company has always had ensuring a high supply quality and security of supply for the people as its top priority. Measures including securing gas supplies, filling our storage capacities as much as possible and activating power plants as part of our congestion management strategy meant that we were able to continue supplying energy to our electricity and gas customers during the winter months without restriction. However, the current situation also lays bare to us that increasing energy independence is indispensable and that the expansion of energy generation from sustainable resources as well as the grid infrastructure must be pushed forward at an even faster pace than before. Numerous grid projects at all voltage levels were therefore driven forward just as intensively in the reporting period as a large number of generation projects in the areas of hydroelectric power, wind power, photovoltaics and biomass. This is something that is also reflected in the 15% increase in capital expenditure compared to the first half of the 2021/2022 fiscal year. The individual climate mitigation projects are part of a two-billion-euro investment drive and will make a significant contribution to the success of the energy transition in the coming years. They also contribute to the strategic sustainability and innovation project LOOP, which was launched at the beginning of 2023 and with which we want to set the course for fully decarbonising the company. We want to meet people's desire for additional sustainable and digital solutions and, above all, take clear and decisive action against the looming climate crisis.
The general rate of inflation, which was strongly driven by energy prices, increasingly evolved into a major burden for the general population in the past one and a half years. Despite the prevailing and very turbulent conditions on the market, Energie AG Oberösterreich was able to keep its promise and maintain the price guarantee for existing customers until 1 January 2023. However, in view of the sharp rise in energy procurement costs, we also had to raise electricity and gas tariffs noticeably at the beginning of the year. The promise to reduce prices as soon as market conditions permit has already been fulfilled several times in the past weeks and months through various discounts and reductions. By significantly increasing the energy solidarity budget and launching an energy assistance package, voluntarily agreeing to waive cut-offs during the entire heating period, as well as expanding advisory services and promoting energy efficiency measures, we are fulfilling our social obligation and actively helping particularly vulnerable customers save energy and costs.
In the multitude of Herculean tasks to be tackled, the demographic crisis and the associated shortage of skilled workers is another one that must be taken very seriously. The Energie AG Group acknowledges that the Group’s success depends on the commitment of its employees and therefore seeks to solidify its reputation as an attractive employer on an ongoing basis and to offer a work environment that not only offers interesting and diverse development opportunities but also accommodates the individual needs of its employees. In order to meet these goals, a diversity project aimed at further cultural openness was recently launched to position the company as a highly attractive employer for people with different biographies. Receiving another award as one of the best employers in Austria in the recognised Trend Ranking makes us confident that the personnel measures taken so far to improve workers' ability to balance family and career, to make working hours more flexible and to expand training and further education opportunities also contribute to this.
Finally, we would like to take this opportunity to thank all employees of Energie AG Oberösterreich who have been faced with the challenge of coping with a sharp rise in customer enquiries in recent months. We would like to express our sincere thanks for the professional and understanding way in which the concerns of the customers were dealt with and perspectives in the current situation were outlined.
Linz, 30 May 2023
The Management Board of Energie AG Oberösterreich
Dr. Leonhard Schitter
Chairman of the Management Board
Dr. Andreas Kolar
Member of the Management Board
Dipl.-Ing. Stefan Stallinger MBA
Member of the Management Board