HYDROPOWER AND SOCIETY
E-CO Energi manages one of our most precious environment-friendly resources: hydropower. Clean renewable hydropower does not burden the environment the way fossil fuels do. Consequently, the development and upgrading of hydropower plants reduces the demand for non-renewable energy resources. If E-CO Energi's clean hydropower production in 2013 were to be replaced by fossil-fuelled energy, emissions would have totalled 5.6 million metric tonnes of CO2, equivalent to the pollution produced by more than two million cars in a year.
Norway has a long history of hydropower development. When new hydropower projects are developed today, we are building on more than 100 years of expertise. One of the goals of these efforts is for all operations and development to be carried out in the most gentle, sustainable manner possible. Simply put, we are getting more energy out of every drop of water than ever before.
E -CO Energi's core values, "Commitment, Integrity and Creativity", are key aspects of the Group's work with corporate social responsibility. These values serve as guidelines for how the Group and its employees are to act in respect of important stakeholders such as suppliers, partners and local communities.
The Group's ethical guidelines pave the way for our commitment and contribution to the community. The ethical guidelines also describe how our employees are to act and comport themselves in situations involving gifts or other perks.
THE WORKING ENVIRONMENT AND HSE
Our employees are our most important resource. To ensure our employees' safety and development, we are proactive in promoting HSE, job satisfaction, human resources development, co-determination and social welfare. As an IWL-enterprise (Inclusive Working Life), E-CO Energi strives to ensure that everyone can contribute insofar as possible. Regular surveys are taken to measure the working environment, well-being and absence due to illness. Our goals are to have no injuries and less than four per cent absence due to illness during the year. In 2015, we had a rate of absence due to illness of 4.0 per cent. This is somewhat higher than in previous years and is due to injuries and absence in connection with exercises.
E-CO Energi's operations generate value for internal and external players. The owner receives dividends, employees receive salaries and the local and national authorities receive direct and indirect taxes. In the 2015 financial year, the company contributed MNOK 387 to its host municipalities. These contributions came in the form of natural resource and property taxes, licence fees and concessionary power. In 2015, the three largest recipients were Aurland, Hol, and Ål municipalities. They received MNOK 101, 73 and 33, respectively, in direct and indirect taxes.
E-CO Energi also contributes indirectly to local value creation in the municipalities in which the power is generated. The company operates, develops and maintains existing and new facilities. Energy production creates value through the acquisition of goods and services from local suppliers and partners. E-CO Energy tries to use local service providers and partners where this is feasible in practical terms. Having a short path from supplier to plant translates into savings for the environment and local infrastructure, in addition to providing secure local jobs.
Altogether, the Group paid roughly MNOK 900 in direct and indirect taxes in 2015.
Dedicated, result-oriented efforts are made to address environmental responsibility, as documented in the annual Environmental Report. The description below is excerpted from that report.
Environmental responsibility is an important, integral part of core activities for forward-thinking businesses in the energy sector. For E-CO Energi, this consists of environment-friendly operations, and the development and production of clean, renewable hydropower.
For hydropower producers, the greatest environmental challenges are linked to construction projects, noise, landscape modification and habitat/biodiversity changes in affected watercourses and lakes.
E-CO Energi's Environmental Report contains a set of indicators that measures the Group's impact on the outdoor environment. The knowledge acquired by the Group through its work with environmental indicators is actively deployed to minimise our environmental footprint. This knowledge is also applied in the company's risk management and internal control. Risk management efforts have resulted in a system for identifying and minimising our environmental challenges. E-CO has hired an environmental coordinator who is responsible for following up the Group's environmental responsibility at the plants.
In 2015, the Group is reporting on the use of fuel and waste treatment, and disclosing the figures for our consumption of petroleum products and hazardous substances. CO2 accounts have been complied based on five categories of emissions.
The Group's CO2 emissions mainly consist of the insulating gas SF6, air travel, the use of helicopters, the consumption of electricity and fuel for vehicles and machinery. The Group's greenhouse gas emissions totalled 654 metric tonnes of CO2 equivalents in 2015, a decrease of about 68 metric tonnes from 2014. E-CO strives to minimise greenhouse gas emissions from its own activities. To reduce our transportation emissions, in-house meetings are held locally, meetings are held by video conference, and environment-friendly transportation is chosen whenever possible. Good control and maintenance routines for SF6-insulated facilities help minimise the emissions from them. When E-CO's motor vehicles and machinery are replaced, we will consider low-emission (electric and hybrid vehicles and bio-propellant) options. As from 2015, E-CO's greenhouse gas emissions are offset by the purchase of pollution credits.
E-CO Energi's waste management complies with all applicable rules and regulations. The Group seeks solutions for reducing the amount of waste, and for increasing the percentage of recycling. Metals, plastics and packaging are collected and recycled.
E-CO carries out landscape and biotope adjustment measures where there is a defined need. The goal is to use such initiatives to reduce the environmental footprint of the plants and production on the outdoor environment. In compliance with government orders, trout are stocked in a number of mountain lakes. This initiative ensures good fishing lakes that are deeply appreciated by locals and visitors alike. The Group also participates in several research projects to see whether the measures work, and to determine whether it is possible to improve conditions for fish through other measures, e.g. changing the operating schedule of the facilities.
In 2015, E-CO had no non-conformance for emissions of pollutants to soil, water or air that were of a nature that they were required to be reported to NVE.
E-CO Energi helps create value for local communities by providing jobs, generating revenues for host municipalities, creating demand for local goods and services and providing a reliable power supply. The Group's business activities benefit society in other ways as well.
One by-product of hydropower development is excess rock and aggregates. The mass is deposited in so-called "tips" that can be used to develop local communities. E-CO Energi strives to see to it that excess materials can be used locally for road construction and cement production.
The company gives financial support for good causes at the local, national and international levels. A large part of this goes to local sports clubs and associations, and to promoting sports and cultural talents.
A donation is made to the Norwegian Air Ambulance, which has a helicopter base at Ål in Hallingdal. This enables safe, swift and efficient ambulance services for the entire region. Courses organised under the auspices of the Norwegian Air Ambulance also help improve fire safety and fire prevention conditions for E-CO Energi and others in the local community.
In 2015, E-CO Energi contributed to the Knowledge Centre at the Norwegian Museum of Science, Technology, Industry and Medicine and to the teaching programme "Water and Power" for the Oslo school system. We also support the work of the environmental foundation Zero.
The Group's operations take place in Norway. Our commitment to clean power nonetheless extends far beyond our national borders. E-CO Energi supports the Red Cross. The vast majority of the support will go to the international "Water for Life" projects. Clean water is critical both in the acute phase after catastrophes, as well as in the long-term humanitarian efforts. The second part of the support will go to national emergency services, mainly in the areas in which E-CO Energi operates.
COMMUNICATION OF CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
E-CO Energi's work with corporate social responsibility takes place in conjunction with the Group's goals, strategy and core activities. We will continue to set targets and draw up guidelines for corporate social responsibility and we will strive to achieve and comply with them. We communicate about the social and environmental aspects of our operations in respect of our stakeholders through a separate section on the company's website: www.e-co.no/csr.