Discover the Acea Group online 2019 Sustainability Report
Relations with Institutions
Relations with the institutions are focused on the economic dimension (taxes and fees) and the social dimension (relations with local institutions, sector authorities, consumer associations and other civil representatives etc.), in line with current legislation and the Group’s Code of Ethics.
The economic value distributed to public authorities in the form of taxes in 2019 is € 123.2 million (€ 124.3 million in 2018). The tax rate for the year is equal to 28.6% (it was 30.4% last year).
Acea regularly pays contributions and registration fees owed to public and private bodies, such as chambers of commerce, independent administrative authorities, industry associations and representative bodies. In 2019, the total amount of this item was approximately € 2.94 million (€ 2.87 million in 2018). More specifically, approximately € 1.63 million was paid to regulatory authorities (ARERA, AGCM, Consob and other public services authorities), € 76 thousand was incurred as a mandatory charge to the chambers of commerce and about € 1.2 million was incurred for contributions to confederation bodies and for membership fees.
Partnerships with public institutions are aimed at carrying out initiatives with positive effects in the local region and the public’s quality of life (see the chapters Customers and the community, Personnel and Relations with the environment).
Article 17 of the Group’s Code of Ethics, which discusses relations with institutions, the public administration and political and trade union bodies, states that: “Acea cooperates actively and fully with the independent Authorities, establishes relations with the Public Administration by strictly observing the provisions of the law, applicable regulations, provisions contained in the Organisation and Management Model pursuant to Legislative Decree 231/01 and in internal procedures [...] Acea does not contribute in any way to the financing of political parties, trade unions movements, committees or organizations...or their representatives and candidates [...] Acea does not make contributions to organizations with which a conflict of interest may arise... In any case, Acea’s personnel shall refrain from any behaviour aimed at exerting pressure (direct or indirect) on political and trade union representatives or representatives of associations in potential conflict of interest in order to obtain personal or corporate advantages”.
The supervision of relations with institutional entities is defined by an organizational model that attributes competences and responsibilities to the corporate structures of reference. In particular, the Institutional Relations Unit protects corporate interests and represents the Group’s positions in dialogue with Industry associations, Research centres, Standard-setting bodies and local, national and international public and private institutions and bodies. The Corporate Affairs and Services Department supports the Group Companies for legal aspects related to the activities, dealing with communications with the securities market Supervisory Authorities (Borsa and Consob) and relations with the regulatory bodies in the relevant sectors, also to minimize exposure to regulatory risk.
The Group’s operating companies, jointly with the Parent Company, manage the “technical and specialist” aspects of the managed services – water and electricity supply, public lighting and the environmental sector – including through interaction with administrative, regulatory and control bodies.
INTERVENTIONS BY SECTOR AUTHORITIES WITH RESPECT TO ACEA: INVESTIGATIONS, BONUSES AND PENALTIES
In the regulated sectors, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, Networks and Environment (ARERA) has long established bonus and penalty mechanisms to encourage the improvement of the performance of service operators. With regard to management in 2018, in 2019 Areti has paid: a penalty of approximately € 5.12 million relating to the continuity of electricity service for LV users; approximately € 1.87 million in compensation to users and penalties paid to the Energy and Environmental Services Fund (EESF) for prolonged and extended interruptions, and approximately € 191,000 for exceeding the pre-set standards for LV users.
The Acea Ato 5, Gori and Gesesa water companies respectively paid automatic compensation to customers during the year for € 120,000, € 192,000 and € 26,000 (the latter two are estimated values) and Acea Ato 2 paid € 667,000 in automatic compensation to customers relating to contractual quality performance, in particular for billing. In January Acea Ato 2 communicated the performance of 2018 regarding quality to the Operating Technical Secretariat (STO) of the area authority for verification, based on which bonuses will be calculated, and again during the year the STO awarded the Company approximately € 33.6 million as a bonus for achieving improved standards of service rendered in 2018.
At the conclusion of proceedings initiated previously, two sanctioning measures served to Acea Ato 5 in 2019 by ARERA and AGCM are noted. In the first case (resolution 253/2019) the area in question concerns tariff regulation, in the second case (measure 27798/2019) conduct contrary to the requirements of the Consumer Code (unfair and aggressive practices). The Company challenged these measures before the relevant regional administrative courts.
Finally, in October the Lazio Regional Administrative Court fully upheld the appeals filed by Acea SpA, Acea Energia and Areti against the AGCM measure (measure 27496/2018), which jointly and severally penalized companies for € 16.2 million for alleged anti-competitive conduct in the energy sales market, highlighting the non-existence of the conduct alleged by the AGCM and the Companies’ fully appropriate actions in the market.
As for the litigation procedures of an environmental nature with public enforcement authorities (Arpa, Forestry, etc.), see Relations with the environment and the Environmental Accounts.
PROTECTION OF COMMON ASSETS
In synergy with public institutions, private parties and research bodies, Acea deals with initiatives and projects of an environmental and social nature aimed at protecting common assets.
In 2019 the procedure for the renewal of the Peschiera-Le Capore Aqueduct concession in Acea was completed, with the signing of the agreement by the Lazio Region and Municipality of Rome, and the foundations were laid for the construction of the new upper section of the Aqueduct to ensure the water supply in Rome and the Province of Rome.
With regard to the implementation of Water Safety Plans aimed at preventing and mitigating water risks, the multidisciplinary teams that will prepare the Plans for the different regions have been qualified and the risk assessment has been started.
During the year, by means of the Acea Ambiente Company Acea partnered with institutional bodies to carry out projects of public utility, including: the reuse of poor quality water with the application of technologies borrowed from the aerospace sector, able to facilitate the availability of water for urban or rural use with reduced cost and time in the event of a water crisis; the efficiency of water systems with the aim of developing a model for the active control of the water network following a smart grid logic; the improvement of water infrastructure resilience and protection in the event of climate change; the creation of new purification systems, for example for the city of Benevento; the redevelopment of areas of environmental interest, such as the water catchment area of the Sarno river.
Ecogena participated in the Smartmed project promoted by the Municipality of Rome and aimed at disseminating best practices in urban energy efficiency, contributing to the design and construction of an energy district in the Pietralata district of Rome in collaboration with universities, research bodies and companies.
Regarding the circular economy, Acea has joined the Italian Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform (ICESP) coordinated by ENEA to promote a national approach to the circular economy (Italian way for circular economy) through the involvement of stakeholders engaged in the area, and together with 13 other companies and research centres has signed the Network Contract for the establishment of the first Italian Research and Industrial Development Centre (AIRES): a network of companies, institutions and technology consortia engaged in the development of a circular economy and environmental sustainability (see box).
THE NETWORK CONTRACT FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE AIRES CENTRE
The AIRES Research Centre, set up on the basis of a network contract between companies and research centres, develops joint projects on environmental sustainability, including innovative waste treatment, initiatives to combat the effects of climate change, etc. The network contract covers five years and envisages activities aimed at improving technical and economic performance in the circular economy, strengthening innovative and productive capacity at lower costs thanks to the system of economies of scale, upgrading know-how and professional training.
The implementation of the network programme also includes the organization of technical roundtables and in-depth seminars and participation in regional, ministerial and Community calls for proposals for financing research and development projects compatible with the object and objectives set out in the contract.
OPERATIONAL RISK MANAGEMENT AND EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT PLANS
Acea participates in high-profile institutional working groups, regarding prevention and management of critical events, and in the event of an emergency it provides support to the authorities responsible for public health, civil protection and public safety.
Cyber threats that are potentially capable of causing a malfunction or interrupting the provision of essential services such as energy and water is one of Acea’s national security issues. In particular, the company collaborates with the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) of the Ministry of Economic Development, the Network and Information Security Authorities (NIS) of the Ministry of the Environment and the National Anti-Crime Information Centre for the Protection of Critical Infrastructure (CNAIPIC) of the Ministry of the Interior.
Acea also participates in the ECHO programme (European network of Cybersecurity centres and competence Hub for innovation and Operations) for the establishment of a European network of expert centres on cyber security, which in 2019 passed the first design review with excellent results, and in the H2020 ATHENS project dealing with security and resilience of digital infrastructure.
With regard to consumer health and safety, Acea is committed both to the implementation of the water safety plans already mentioned and to research into emerging organic micropollutants (EOMS), emerging viruses, legionella and micro-nanoplastics in the water sector.
Group companies ensure the highest levels of safety and continuity in the provision of managed services, in collaboration with public institutions.
To this end, they have set up organizations, procedures and tools that, in the event of critical events (unavailability of central systems, breakdowns, adverse weather conditions, peak demand and network stress, etc.), protect the normal operating conditions of networks, plants and systems to be restored in a timely manner (see also the chapter on Customers, Quality delivered and, later on, Protection of assets and management of internal risks in the section on The company as a stakeholder).
Each operating company has plans for managing emergencies and intervention procedures and, through the control centres, constantly monitors the status of networks and equipment – water and sewage, electricity and public lighting – in partnership with the Municipal and National Civil Protection and Roma Capitale.
Whenever an event affects the managed services (damage to plants and/or networks, water/energy crisis, etc.), the companies of the Group notify the competent bodies in order to facilitate the coordination of interventions.
Acea SpA has a procedure for the management of health and environmental emergencies having an impact on the population, for which it defines a risk level (low, medium and high) and consequently organizes intervention teams.
The Areti emergency management plan, the company that handles the distribution of electricity, deals with widespread breakdowns and unavailability of the grid. It defines the different states of activation (ordinary, alert, alarm and emergency), according to the operational and environmental conditions, the procedures for the activation (and subsequent reset) of the same states, the units involved and the respective roles, and the resource materials necessary for maintaining or restoring equipment. It also provides for the appointment of a Head of Emergency Management and an employee dedicated to the management of safety, in established cases. The detailed Operating Plans indicate methods for quickly managing the types of disruption (such as flooding, fires, disruptions to the remote-control network, etc.) and procedures to be followed, for example, for restarting the electrical system in the event of a blackout of the National Transmission Grid (NTG) or re-establishing power for strategic users (such as parliament, the government, the State of Vatican City, etc.), the materials, equipment and resources to be involved depending on the case. The master plan and detailed operating plans are updated on a yearly basis and periodically improved on the basis of analyses of real cases. The effectiveness of procedures and the functionality of equipment are tested by means of drills. In addition, with a view to improving processes, the Company is committed to the creation of a platform for the real-time acquisition and monitoring of weather events capable of altering the operating conditions of the electrical grid.
Plans for the management of emergencies of the water companies and shared with local institutions (such as Governmental Territorial Offices, Local Health Authorities, Area Management Agencies) define conditions that compromise the continuity and quality of the integrated water service, classify the emergency levels, describe the preventive and remedial measures for the types of unforeseen events (damage to the networks, pollution, water crisis and emergencies related to the sewerage and treatment service) and provide for the division of tasks among the areas involved (technical area and communications). In 2019 Acea Ato 2 updated the Plan, consistent with the guidelines of the Water Safety Plans (WSPs), examined 25 critical scenarios and indicated for each the consequences, manoeuvres and mitigation actions required. The Plan was presented to the prefecture, civil protection, the Lazio Region, the metropolitan city, the municipality of Rome and the relevant ASL national health office.
The companies of the Group that manage waste treatment plants ensure the execution of a detailed routine maintenance plan to reduce plant downtime caused by faults or unexpected events and minimize unplanned non-routine maintenance work. All the structures of each site are equipped with Emergency Plans that take into account the scenarios identified for endogenous and exogenous emergencies. These Plans examine aspects related to the safety of workers, ensuring their safety with specific behavioural and evacuation procedures, checked on a yearly basis, and aspects related to the protection of the environment, identifying the emergency interventions in order to limit contamination of environmental media (air, water and soil). Permits by virtue of which the plants are managed also include communication requirements and methods for non-routine or emergency events to the competent bodies, in order to guarantee the maximum dissemination of information and, where appropriate, the coordination of the intervention.
PROJECTS FOR THE INNOVATIVE AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT OF THE TERRITORY
In 2019, in continuity with past years and in concert with local administrators, Acea Ato 2 continued the installation of Water Kiosks in Rome and vicinity, which made it possible to equip the areas with 83 kiosks (see chapter Customers, section Quality delivered in the water segment).
In the area of smart cities, in 2019, in partnership with Roma Capitale, Acea launched the plan for electric mobility, also defining the strategy for e-mobility to combat the mobility divide due to the infrastructure gap. It launched the testing phase of the Charging Point Operator and Mobility Service Provider platforms through an internal car-sharing service with 25 electric cars, and installed the first charging columns for electric cars. A partnership was also established with Guido Carli LUISS University, which made it possible to provide students with a mobility services platform, including the management of charging and booking of the car or a seat in the shuttle.
In order to promote the innovative and sustainable development of the sectors of reference, Acea establishes collaborations and partnerships with complementary companies or organizations operating in sectors similar to the businesses it manages and with innovative players.
During the year Acea signed a memorandum of understanding with Google Cloud in order to improve the quality of services provided and efficiency of operating processes, through the company’s digital innovation with ASL (Advanced Solutions Lab) programmes and machine learning techniques.
In order to build the broadband communication network necessary to create a smart grid in the territory of Roma Capitale, Acea has signed an agreement with Open Fiber aimed at connecting stations and substations with fibre optics. In addition, the company has signed an agreement with the Agostino Gemelli University Polyclinic Foundation and Cassa Depositi e Prestiti for the creation of a digital platform of innovative smart health services (home telehealth, telemedicine, prescriptions via email, etc.), with the aim of improving health services with remote controls and monitoring of certain diseases.
The virtuous relationship with the local region is also expressed through the collaboration between Group companies and schools in the geographical areas served, for example as part of the work-study programme (see the chapter on Personnel, Valuation of human resources and communication section).
Other initiatives for schools in addition to the Acea School programme which has been active for many years (see chapter Customers, section Communication, events and solidarity) were held on the occasion of Acea’s participation in Sustainability Island and Ecomondo.
Acea Ato5 carried out the project “H2O in small steps”, aimed at primary schools in some local municipalities, to raise awareness among children on the correct use of water.
THE COMPARISON WITH THE REFERENCE CONTEXT
Acea participates in Research Centres, Standard-setting Bodies and Industry Associations, acting as promoter or contributing to studies in the businesses in which it operates.
THE 2019 MEMBERSHIPS OF RESEARCH CENTRES, STANDARD-SETTING BODIES AND INDUSTRY ASSOCIATIONS
During the course of the year the Group renewed and activated numerous memberships of organizations of interest, including:
- AGICI - Finanza d’Impresa;
- AICAS Associazione Italiana Consiglieri, Amministratori e Sindaci;
- AIDI Associazione Italiana Illuminazione;
- Aspen Institute Italia;
- Associazione Amici della Luiss Guido Carli;
- Associazione Civita;
- Associazione Geotecnica Italiana;
- Associazione Italiana Internal Auditors;
- Associazione Italiana esperti Infrastrutture Critiche (AIIC);
- Associazione Elettrotecnica ed Elettronica Italiana (AEI);
- Associazione Idrotecnica Italiana (AII);
- Associazione nazionale fornitori di elettronica (Assodel);
- CEDEC Bruxelles (European Federation of Local Energy Companies);
- CEEP Bruxelles (European Centre of Employers and Enterprises providing Public services)
- Centro Studi Americani;
- CDP Worldwide;
- CISPEL Confservizi Toscana;
- CLUB Ambrosetti;
- Comitato Elettrotecnico Italiano (CEI)
- Conseil de cooperation economique;
- CSR Manager Network Italia;
- Distretto Tecnologico Nazionale sull’Energia (Di.T.NE.);
- E.DSO Bruxelles (European Distribution System Operators' Association for Smart Grids);
- Elettricità Futura (ex Assoelettrica-AssoRinnovabili)
- Energy and Strategy Group – Politecnico di Milano (ES-MIP);
- EURELECTRIC Bruxelles (Union of the Electricity Industry);
- FAI Fondo per l’Ambiente Italiano
- FIRE (Federazione Italiana per l’uso Razionale dell’Energia);
- FISE Assoambiente;
- Fondazione Global Compact Network Italia;
- Fondazione Roma Europa;
- Fondazione Utilitatis (Centro di studi e ricerche per l’acqua, l’energia e l’ambiente);
- Gruppo Galgano;
- IATT (Italian Association for Trenchless Technology);
- ICESP Piattaforma Italiana Economia Circolare coordinata da ENEA;
- I-Com (Istituto per la Competitività);
- ISES Italia (International Solar Energy Society - Sezione Italiana);
- Laboratorio dei Servizi Pubblici Locali di REF-Ricerche;
- Servizi Professionali Integrati;
- Piattaforma Italiana del Fosforo coordinata da ENEA e MATTM;
- UNI (Ente Italiano di Normazione);
- Unindustria Lazio;
- UPA Utenti Pubblicità Associati;
- Utilitalia (Federazione delle imprese ambientali, energetiche ed idriche);
- World Energy Council (WEC).
Acea participates in occasions for dialogue with the business world and the scientific community on issues of national and international importance and offers its own specialist contribution on the occasion of thematic conferences, forums and workshops on topics linked to its managed companies, also presenting publications and works of technical-scientific relevance. In particular, during the year it built a network of relationships with universities, research centres, technology partners, startups and SMEs to strengthen its national and international presence in the field of innovation.
The Group participated in events and organized numerous initiatives, which have already been mentioned (see the chapters Customers and the community, paragraph Communication, events and solidarity; Strategy and sustainability in Corporate identity and the section Relations with the environment). A few examples include Sustainability Day, an opportunity for discussion and debate between representatives of institutions, researchers and experts of the green economy on the new challenges posed by the sustainable economy, Ecomondo, the fair of the green and circular economy in the Euro-Mediterranean area, where Acea presented AceaSmartComp and Sludge Mining projects, the third edition of the Resource Recovery Conference, organized in Venice by the International Water Association, which involved the world bodies of 43 countries on the topic of the recovery and sustainable reuse of resources from wastewater, the third edition of Rome Startup Week, an event of reference for innovation and the Italian and European business ventures, and Open Italy, the co-innovation programme of the Elis Consortium.
The Company has also joined the Startup Europe Partnership, the open innovation platform created by the European Commission that supports startups in the transition from the laboratory development phase of the prototype to that of production on an industrial scale, connecting them with companies and the financial world, and has received the Smau Innovation Award, an award given to companies active in Open Innovation.
Collaborations between Acea, universities and research bodies take place within the framework of conventions and dedicated agreements.
In 2019 Acea signed a four-year cooperation agreement with ENEA for the development of projects related to sustainable waste cycle and water resource management. In this manner Acea will benefit from scientific expertise and platforms and laboratories will be shared, with the aim of applying innovative technologies and solutions to the industrial projects managed, mainly in the sectors of waste treatment and water, in line with the circular economy development plan envisaged by the strategic planning.
Particularly worthy of note are the Framework Agreements that Acea signed with the University of Tuscia – Department of Innovation in Agri-food and Forestry Biological Systems (DIBAF) and with La Sapienza University – Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, within which projects have been launched for the recovery of energy and matter from wastewater purification residues, with a view to waste transition.
In the water sector, Acea Ato 5 entered into an agreement with the University of Cassino and Southern Lazio aimed at creating a collaboration in the field of research and innovation, while Acea Ato 2, in partnership with the University of Rome Tor Vergata – Faculty of Economics, developed an experimental study of Cost Benefits Analysis (CBA) for the project relating to the new upper section of the Peschiera Aqueduct, performing a socio-economic and territorial impact assessment to calculate the cost-benefit ratio of the individual project solutions examined in the feasibility document, and subsequently of the chosen solution.
In the energy field, Areti has established collaborations with the Universities of Naples, Rome, Turin and Milan on specific technical projects, including: the development of algorithms for estimating and measuring the technical losses of the low voltage electricity network, the study of an electronic current transformer capable of solving the limitations inherent in traditional magnetic core devices, the creation of classifiers to identify failure patterns on the MV network and estimate the probability of failure, the development of vulnerability models for the MV electricity network and, as part of the Smart Metering 2G project, the study of the theoretical model of RF 169 MHz coverage to identify the total number of sites/concentrators to be installed in the territory of Rome for the purposes of second generation intelligent metering systems.
In 2019, Acea also participated in Startup Intelligence workshops with the Polytechnic University of Milan to identify trends, scenarios and innovative projects of interest to the Group, and in the Artificial Intelligence Observatory, a community of debate on the subject, combining managerial and technological perspectives. Working with Guido Carli LUISS University, a scientific research site was opened aimed at disseminating the model for the leveraging of company assets, with the contribution of employees involved in dedicated workshops.
Finally, in scientific partnership with the LUISS Business School, a training programme called Managerial Academy continued throughout the year, aimed at creating a centre of managerial excellence in the field of multi-utilities in the Roman area (see the chapter Personnel, paragraph Training and development of personnel).
With regard to sustainability issues, Acea participates in networks of experts, working groups, studies and sector research organized by the academic world, civil society, institutions or business entities. Indeed, the company is active as an associate in the Global Compact Network Italy Foundation, the representative body of the United Nations Global Compact in Italy, and in the CSR Manager Network, the national association that brings together the main Italian companies active in corporate social responsibility. In this context, together with SCS Consulting in 2019 Acea conducted the ERM and Sustainability working group, which involved participating companies and others interested in the debate on integrated risk management, and participated in the working group on the Non-Financial Statements (NFS, pursuant to Legislative Decree no. 254/2016), which defined a qualitative questionnaire on mandatory non-financial reporting and carried out the first dissemination test, analysing the results and sharing them within the Network (see also Corporate governance and management systems in Corporate Identity).
Acea’s participation in Utilitalia, the federation that brings together the multi-utilities of water, environment, energy and gas, is also expressed through its participation in technical panels and topical working groups, including the one dedicated to Sustainability.
More specifically, in 2019 Aquaser participated in working groups aimed at revising the Decree on sludge management, Acea Elabori took part in technical working groups on: water, drinking water and wastewater, biomethane and sludge, technological innovation and phosphorus platform.
The company also participates in benchmark analyses on sustainability in Italian utilities, like those carried out by the Utilitatis research centre and Top Utility.