Relations with institutions
Relationships with the Institutions are focussed on the economic dimension (taxes and fees) and the social dimension (relationships with local institutions, sector authorities, dialogue with consumer associations and other civil representatives, professional 168 ACEA GROUP / SUSTAINABILITY REPORT 2018 and institutional partnerships, etc.), in line with current legislation and the Group’s Code of Ethics, updated in 2018.
The economic value distributed to public authorities in the form of taxes in 2018 is € 124.3 million (about € 96 million in 2017).
The tax rate for the year is equal to 30.4% (it was 33.3% 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 2018, the total amount of this item was approximately € 2.87 million (€ 2.57 million in 2017). More specifically, approximately €1.70 million was paid to regulatory authorities (ARERA, AGCM, Consob and other public services authorities), € 80 thousand was incurred as a mandatory charge to the chambers of commerce and about € 1 million was incurred for contributions to confederation bodies and for various membership fees.
Partnering with public institutions, also by virtue of the essential nature of the services provided by the Group, is done to carry out initiatives aimed at generating positive effects in the local region and on the public’s quality of life (see the chapters Customers and the community, Personnel and Relations with the environment).
Article 17 of the new 2018 edition 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 so as not to compromise its reputation and integrity. (...) Acea does not contribute in any way to the financing of political parties or trade unions, movements, committees or organisations, even if they have the legal status of an association or foundation with the same instrumental bodies, or their representatives and candidates. (...) Acea does not make contributions to organisations with which a conflict of interest may arise, like trade unions or environmental or consumer protection associations.
Cooperation with such organisations shall be permitted for purposes related to Acea’s mission. (...) 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 management of relationships with institutions is defined by an organisational model that assigns specific skills and tasks to the various corporate structures:
- the Institutional Relations Unit: guarantees the sole representation of the Group’s positions in dialogue with sector associations, research centres, standardisation bodies as well as with public and private, local, national and international institutions and bodies in order to protect the Group’s interests and remain current with the evolution of the institutional setting, the market and any potential impacts on the Group;
- the Corporate Affairs and Services Department ensures assistance for all legal aspects relating to Acea SpA’s operations and the functioning of the Group, dealing with communications with the securities market Supervisory Authorities (Borsa and Consob), managing relations with the regulatory bodies in the relevant sectors, representing Acea positions in participatory regulatory training procedures, and ensuring coordination and guidance in the implementation of the Authority’s resolutions, in order to minimise 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 – also through consultation with the various administrative, regulatory and control bodies.
Intervetions by sector authorities against Acea: investigations, bonuses and penalities
The Regulatory Authority for Energy Networks and the Environment has established a mechanism of awards and penalties for companies that manage the services regulated by said authority. In 2018, with reference to the management of the previous year, Areti was made to pay a penalty of approximately € 1.48 million relating to the regulation of the continuity of the electricity service for low-voltage users. Again with reference to the continuity of service in 2017, Areti has paid, as compensation to users and as penalties paid to the Energy and Environmental Services Fund (EESF), approximately € 1.47 million with reference to prolonged and extended interruptions and approximately € 122 thousand for exceeding the pre-set standards for medium-voltage users.
In 2018 the water companies Acea Ato 5 and Gesesa accrued automatic indemnities with respect to customers of € 330 thousand (estimated) and € 60 thousand, respectively.
With regard to Acea Ato 2, the automatic indemnities of a contractual quality accrued during the year with respect to customers amounted to approximately € 740 thousand, most of which related to billing indicators.
In January 2018, the Contract Quality data for 2018 were communicated to the Operational Technical Secretariat (STO) of the Management Body of the Area of reference for verification, and any bonuses will be ascertained upon receipt of the outcome.
In 2018, as a bonus for achieving improved standards of service rendered in 2016, the Operational Technical Secretariat also awarded Acea Ato 2 about € 23 million.
It should be noted that in June 2018 the antitrust authority initiated proceedings against Acea Ato 5 in order to ascertain the possible violation of articles 20, 24 and 25 of Legislative Decree no. 206/2005 (Consumer Code) in relation to alleged improper and aggressive behaviour towards consumers and small businesses. As at 31.12.2018 the proceedings were still ongoing. The preliminary question referred by the Regional Administrative Court of Lazio and raised by Acea Energia against a 2015 provision of the Italian antitrust authority concerning unsolicited contracts is still pending before the EU Court of Justice. The appeals filed before the Lazio Regional Administrative Court by Acea Ato 2 and Acea Energia against the antitrust authority’s measures issued in 2016 for alleged unfair commercial practices and violations of the Consumer Code are also pending.
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.
Operational risk management for the protection of common assets
Acea, in synergy with specialist public institutions and with research bodies, deals with initiatives and projects of an environmental, social and safety nature and with protection of common heritage.
In 2018, with regard to the works for the implementation of the Water Safety Plans aimed at preventing and mitigating water risks, Acea set up a multidisciplinary working group composed of internal staff and representatives of bodies and institutions (Roma Capitale, Lazio Region, Arpa Lazio, Asl RM2, Metropolitan City, Conference of Mayors Technical Secretariat, Higher Institute of Health, Ministry of Health, District Basin Authority of the Central Apennines, etc.), which produced an accurate risk analysis of the main nodes and interconnections of the water scheme concerned (intake for the Tiber River, Grottarossa water treatment plant, Monte Mario water tank, interconnections) (see also Relations with the environment and the chapter Corporate governance and management systems; sub-paragraph Integrated risk analysis).
Group companies are committed to ensuring 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 organisations, procedures and tools that, in the event of critical events (unavailability of central systems, breakdowns, adverse weather conditions, peak demand and network stress, etc.), allow 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.
In 2018 Acea SpA defined the procedure called Emergency Preparedness and Response that applies to all activities carried out by the Parent Company with respect to health, safety and the environment.
The procedure illustrates the emergencies (health and environmental) with an impact on the population, defines the risk level (low, medium and high), depending on which it provides for the organisation of teams for emergencies (see the chapter Corporate governance and management systems, paragraph Management systems).
The Areti emergency management plan, the company that handles the distribution of electricity, is designed to deal 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 activation (and subsequent return) to 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 the cases established. The detailed Operational Plans indicate, in a timely manner, the methods for managing certain types of disruption (such as flooding, fires, disruptions to the remote-control network, inefficiencies in the power systems of important entities, etc.) and report, in relation to the case in question, the management procedures, materials, equipment and resources to be involved. The operational documents include the procedures, for example, for the re-ignition of the electricity system in the event of a blackout of the National Transmission Grid (NTG) or to re-establishing power for strategic users (such as Parliament, the Government, the State of Vatican City, etc.). The master plan and detailed operational 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 exercise drills.
During the year, a nowcasting system was developed to forecast the risk of natural events, which in the event of a warning automatically sends the company an impact report in terms of blacked out stations and customers and the expected time before restoration of power.
Plans for the management of emergencies, active similarly in water companies and shared with local institutions (as Governmental Territorial Offices, Local Health Authorities, Area Management Agencies) define abnormal conditions that compromise the continuity and quality of the integrated water service, classify the emergency levels, describe the preventive and remedial measures for the different types of unforeseen events, such as 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 different figures involved (technical area and communications).
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 minimise 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 through specific behavioural and evacuation procedures, checked on a yearly basis, and aspects related to the protection of the environment, identifying the emergency interventions to be performed 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.
Some projects for the development of the local area
The partnership between Acea and local institutions also aims to implement initiatives for the development of the local region, and is aimed at promoting a culture of sustainability and lifestyles consistent with the responsible use of natural resources (see Relations with the environment).
In 2018, in continuity with past years, the programme of installing Water Kiosks in the municipalities of Rome and vicinity continued, which made it possible to equip the area with 77 total kiosks (23 in Rome and 54 in the province), managed by Acea Ato 2 in concert with local administrators (see chapter Customers, paragraph Quality delivered in the water area).
In collaboration with the Municipality of Rome, Areti continues to be active in the field of smart grids, advanced grid management systems and grid resilience. In 2018, it participated in the European Smart Cities and Community programme with the SmartMed project, aimed at disseminating best practices in urban energy efficiency in the city of Rome.
During the year, with regard to public lighting, the company created a prototype of an intelligent pole that, thanks to the installation of sensors, provides advanced services compatible with a smart city logic (see also the chapter Customers and the community).
The virtuous relationship with local communities is also expressed through the partnerships between Group companies and schools in the geographical areas served. In fact, during the year Acea SpA, Acea Ato 5, Gesesa, Areti, Acea Ambiente and Acea worked with local schools to initiate numerous work-study programmes (see the chapter on Personnel, Valuation of human resources and communication section).
Moreover, Gesesa again in 2018 carried out the project “H2SchOOl, the Importance of Water for Life” in collaboration with UNICEF and under the patronage of the Department of Education of the City of Benevento, aimed at raising awareness among children and citizens on environmental issues and orienting them towards a sustainable lifestyle.
In order to proactively monitor the evolution of the sectors of reference and strategic technological areas, Acea develops synergies in the form of collaborations and partnerships with complementary companies or firms operating in sectors similar to the businesses it manages and with innovative players. The company is active in the field of smart and safe cities with Open Fiber for the evolution of networks and the development of innovative services for the city of Rome, and with Huawei for the definition of projects of high technological value. In particular, through a technological agreement with Huawei, in 2018 a pilot project was carried out in the Colosseum area, which was equipped with smart cameras to provide intelligent monitoring of the area, security and protection of the historical and artistic heritage.
The comparison with the reference context
Acea participates in Research Centres, Standard-setting Bodies and Industry Associations, acting as promoter or contributing to specific study activities in the businesses in which it operates.
During the course of the year Acea has renewed and activated numerous memberships in organisations of interest, including:
- AGICI - Finanza d’Impresa;
- AICAS Associazione Italiana Consiglieri, Amministratori e Sindaci;
- AIDI Associazione Italiana Illuminazione;
- Aspen Istituite 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);
- Centro Studi Americani (Centre for American Studies);
- CDP Worldwide;
- CLUB Ambrosetti;
- Comitato Elettrotecnico Italiano (Italian Electro-Techical Committee-CEI);
- Conseil de cooperation econnomique;
- CSR Manager Network Italia (Altis);
- Distretto Tecnologico Nazionale sull’Energia S.c.ar.l. (Di.T.NE.);
- E.DSO Bruxelles (European Distribution System Operators' Association for Smart Grids);
- Elettricità Futura ("Future Electricity" formerly Assoelettrica-Assorinnovabili);
- Energy and Strategy Group – Politecnico di Milano (ES-MIP);
- EURELECTRIC Bruxelles (Union of the Electricity Industry);
- FAI Fondo per l’Ambiente Italiano (Fund for the Italian Eviroment);
- FIRE (Federazione Italiana per l’uso Razionale dell’Energia) (Italian Federation for the Rational Use of Energy);
- Fondazione Global Compact Network Italia;
- Fondazione Roma Europa;
- Fondazione Utilitatis (Study and Research Centre for water, Energy and the Eviroment);
- Gruppo Galgano;
- IATT (Italian Association for Trenchless Technology);
- I-Com (Istituto per la Competitività-Institute for Competitiveness);
- ISES Italia (International Solar Energy Society - Italian Section);
- Laboratorio dei Servizi Pubblici Locali di REF-Ricerche (Local Pubblic Services Laboratory of REF-Ricerche);
- Servizi Professionali Integrati;
- UNI (Ente Italiano di Normazione);
- Unindustria Lazio;
- UPA Utenti Pubblicità Associati;
- Utilitalia (Federation of Enviromental, Energy and Water Companies);
- World Energy Council (WEC).
Acea participates in occasions for dialogue between the business world and the scientific community on the issues which are topical and of national and international importance and offers its own specialist contribution on the occasion of thematic conferences, forums and workshops on topics linked to managed companies, also presenting publications and works of technical-scientific relevance.
For example, Acea also participated in 2018 at Ecomondo, the most important trade show of the green and circular economy in the Euro-Mediterranean area (see the boxes in the chapter Customers and the community, Communication, events and solidarity and in Relations with the environment, Environment Segment - waste management).
In 2018 Ecogena participated in the drafting of the report on Energy Efficiency of the Energy Strategy of Milan Polytechnic and, for the presentation of the study, took part in the round table as a partner.
Acea Elabori participated in ACCADUEO, an international exhibition of technologies dedicated to water, presenting two scientific works: one on the advanced management of wastewater treatment plants and the other on satellite technologies for the identification of areas with hidden water leaks.
The collaborations between Acea and the academic world, both for the purposes of training and continuous updating of their technicians, and for the development of research and innovation projects connected to industrial activities, are conducted in the context of agreements signed between the companies of the Group and the universities in the managed area.
For example, some of the main partnerships during the year between Acea Elabori and Acea Ato 2 and La Sapienza University of Rome, in particular with the Centre for Research on the Prediction, Prevention and Control of Geological Risks (CERI), concerned the integration and management of the microaccelerometric network of Peschiera springs and the Acea Displacement project for the study and monitoring of areas with a probability of instability (sinkholes/depressions).
Areti also started scientific collaborations with the academic world, in particular with La Sapienza University in Rome, on diagnostic systems and modelling and control techniques in the field of smart grids, for the development of a fault classification system on medium voltage (MT) electricity distribution lines and an analytical model for the estimation of the probability of failure.
The companies Acea Ato 5 and Acea Ambiente collaborate on a permanent basis with the Universities of Cassino and Southern Lazio, and Gesesa, also in 2018, maintained its partnership with the University of Sannio (see the chapter on Personnel, the section on Valuation of human resources and communication).
Finally, with particular regard to the ongoing training of resources with managerial roles, in 2018 a training programme called Managerial Academy was launched, in scientific partnership with the Luiss Business School, 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 organised by the academic world, civil society, institutions or business entities.
In particular, the company is active as an associate both within the CSR Manager Network, the national association that brings together the main Italian companies active in corporate social responsibility, and within the Global Compact Network Italy Foundation, the representative body of the United Nations Global Compact in Italy.
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.
In particular, in 2018 Areti participated in working groups aimed at defining the technical standards needed to achieve the European objectives of environmental sustainability, decarbonisation, energy efficiency and renewable energy, also in light of the new European energy directive (Clean Energy Package); Acea Elabori took part in several technical working groups on: water, drinking water and wastewater, biomethane and sludge.
The company also participates in benchmark analyses on sustainability in Italian utilities, like those carried out by the Utilitatis research centre and Top Utility.
Finally, the Group companies are also engaged in various ways in master’s degrees or public conferences on the subject.