Social responsibi­lity

EPV is creating a cleaner world together with its employees and partners. The wellbeing and safety of our personnel is very important to us – the goal is to build a working environment in which occupational accidents do not occur.

A cleaner world is created together

Together with its personnel and business partners, EPV is creating a cleaner world. The importance of our work is evident every day, for example, in:

  • declining emissions
  • the growth of renewable energy
  • secure energy production
  • significant electricity transmission

These developments are a concrete representation of the high-level skills and competence of our personnel.

EPV is one of the most noteworthy electricity transmitters in Finland

We transmit electricity from the main grid and power plants to electricity distribution companies and other large end-users. We are one of the most noteworthy Finnish distributors of electrical power and we transmit electricity in:

  • Ostrobothnia
  • South Ostrobothnia
  • Iijoki
  • Kokkola
  • the Tornio region

EPV Alueverkko Oy is the largest high-voltage (110 kV) distribution network company in Finland. It transmits energy in Ostrobothnia, South Ostrobothnia, Kokkola and the Tornio area, as well as from Pohjolan Voima’s Iijoki hydropower plants to the grid. EPV Teollisuusverkot Oy is a company owned by EPV Energy and Outokumpu and it owns the 400 kV and 110 kV transmission lines and the 400/11 kV high-voltage line transformer located in Tornio.

We continuously invest in our electricity grid infrastructure to ensure it is able to transmit more and more energy produced with wind power. Our investments and modernisations also contribute to the continuity of supply and the safety of the power we provide. We take care of the maintenance of the infrastructure according to the life cycle of the equipment.

The electricity grid’s power control system is at the heart of our operations. The volume of data transfer has grown and will continue to grow in the future. Today, information mainly travels through optical fibres instead of copper. Optical fibres in turn run from one substation to another. Well-functioning and sufficient data transfer enables the efficient and continuous supervision and operation of the system.

Because a well-functioning energy distribution and transmission network is critical for today’s society, the company is always prepared for various crises in the construction and maintenance of its network infrastructure. Detailed instructions have been compiled beforehand for potential major outages.

Good progress with the preparations for the 24-hour capability requirement

EPV is one of the significant network users defined by the Finnish transmission system operator Fingrid, and is subject to the EU Network Code for Emergency and Restoration (NC ER). This rule sets a 24-hour capability requirement for all substations that transmit electricity from generating plants of over 30 megawatts (MW) to the grid. This is to ensure a controlled restoration of the power system in the event of a major national disturbance.

The capability requirement must be met by December 2022, and EPV started preparing for it well in advance. In fact, these preparations were largely completed in 2021. Now it is mainly a matter of testing the system, which means that EPV has kept to the schedule well.

Continued investment in cybersecurity

Energy is a strategic factor in society. Its crucial role makes it an attractive target for different types of actors. As in previous years, 2021 saw a continued trend of energy companies and their partners being targets of cyberattacks around the world.

In the current energy revolution, digitalisation is increasing, and systems and equipment are becoming increasingly integrated into larger and larger real-time entities. They are required to be extremely reliable. The role of small consumers as part of this system will also increase in the current decade, and electricity consumption will be integrated into the management of the electricity system.

Cybersecurity is closely linked to all EPV’s operations and their development. It must be taken into account right from the design stage, and maintained and developed during the operational phase. This is an indispensable and critical area of activity to which EPV has paid particular attention in 2021, as always.

The new balance model allows for linking adjustment possibilities to the balancing of green power generation

At the beginning of November, EPV switched to the model of one balance required by electricity market regulation. This model will significantly facilitate and simplify the commercial balancing of electricity production and consumption when moving towards carbon-neutral electricity generation. It promotes the adoption of business models that would have been more complex to implement under the previous rules.

The transition to the new balance model is one of the biggest changes to the electricity market in the last decade. It will allow electricity market parties to make more efficient use of their various flexibility elements with regulation capabilities. Such elements include, for example, high electricity consumption sites and, for lower-level consumers, electric heating.

For example, lower-than-expected wind power production can be compensated for by simultaneously adjusting consumption to a lower level. In the previous model, the shortfall in production had to be compensated for by increasing other production. In the long term, this will also allow the balancing possibilities of electricity end-users to be linked to the balancing of green power generation. While, in the past, production was adapted to changes in consumption, in the future, consumption will be adapted more to unforeseen changes in production.

Personnel at the heart of the company

EPV invests in its employees’:

  • well-being
  • occupational safety
  • professional development

Employee surveys show that EPV is an inspiring place to work. Our personnel consist of professionals and experts in their fields who have diverse experience of the energy sector spanning more than four decades. Our competent and skilled employees are our most important resource. EPV aims to ensure the commitment, motivation and continuous development of its personnel.

Safety at work in 2021

EPV Energy strives to take exemplary care of occupational safety matters. The company’s goal is to build a working environment in which occupational accidents do not occur.

Occupational safety was monitored through the usual methods in 2021 in all the Group’s companies, including all external personnel working with EPV. Safety is monitored in several different categories, which at EPV are:

  • occupational accidents
  • serious occupational accidents
  • accidents on the way to and from work
  • dangerous situations
  • safety observations

In addition, audits carried out in 2021 focused on security. An example of this were the wind farm audits where the focus was on the safety and environment of the construction site. Similarly, the Seinäjoki power plant was audited for the safety of the use of its electric fuelwood chipper.

We calculate the frequency rate of occupational accidents, and the result shows the number of accidents per million hours worked, which at EPV includes accidents on the way to and from work. In calculating the statistics, service providers working with EPV have also been taken into account.

  • number of accidents 8 (8 in 2020)
  • accident frequency rate 15.81 (10.44 in 2020)

In 2021, EPV’s own staff suffered two accidents. One of these was a serious occupational accident (8 days’ absence from work) and the other an occupational accident (no medical leave). At EPV, accidents include all situations that have required first aid or where people have had pain, such as a cut on the hand or falling over on the way to work. We include more minor incidents in our calculation of accident frequency rate than the rest of the sector does on average. We have set the bar for responsibility extremely high for occupational safety. Our wide reporting of accidents also ensures that even the smallest of accidents are logged, and the necessary measures are taken at the workplace to ensure it does not happen again. According to Finnish Energy’s instructions for calculating accidents, EPV’s accident frequency rate for its own employees was 4.34. We cannot be satisfied with our accident figure when our goal is zero accidents. That is why we intend to further improve our practices in 2022 as regards occupational safety.

The campaign ‘Getting home in one piece’

In 2021, EPV Energy organised an occupational safety campaign, which put more emphasis on safety issues than before by communicating about them more and encouraging people to address problems when they observe them. The aim is to remind us all to be careful at work and that safety issues at work should never be ignored. The company’s goal is to build for its own employees and contractors a working environment in which occupational accidents do not occur.

Maintaining the know-how of personnel is key

In line with our strategy, we want to make sure that we keep pace with, and ideally stay at the forefront of, the changes and transformation in the sector. Maintaining the know-how of the EPV Energy Group’s personnel plays a key role in ensuring the profitability of the Group’s business activities and maintaining the continuous development of its operations.

To achieve this, as one concrete measure, EPV decided in 2021 to set up teams dedicated to key technology areas. We have identified areas of our activities and set up technology teams around them. These technology teams are made up of experts from across the Group. This allows us to bring together the people with the most relevant and advanced expertise in each area to work on a specific issue. We also aim to optimise our use of the know-how capital available and the sharing of knowledge and good practices between the teams.

This is where good leadership and working together play a crucial role. Good leadership is important to us and we want to see the Group companies investing in it. Our goal is to create an enthusiastic EPV team where every employee can develop, learn something new and be proud of what we achieve together.

In our organisation, across the Group, the last two years have seen a stronger focus on leadership. Our management and supervisory work has received high marks, for example, in our employee surveys, and we are purposefully developing leadership to an even higher level. We have done so, for example, by organising training sessions on various leadership themes for managers and team leaders.

As a responsible operator, it is of paramount importance to make sure that we maintain top-level cybersecurity skills. In 2021, EPV Energy continued to offer data security and data protection training on a regular basis for all its employees, as in the previous year.

Adopting agile HR processes and developing performance management

In April 2021, the EPV Group introduced an HR information system available to all its personnel, covering HR processes related to the employment lifecycle, in line with its roadmap. This HR system ensures that all employees now have a real-time view of their employment data. The system also supports operational management work.

The reward and performance management model was reviewed in the autumn of 2021 and different options for its development were explored. As a result of the review, the current model was lightly updated and the reforms were introduced from the beginning of 2022. The guiding factors for the update were that the objectives and indicators on which the reward system is based should guide employees to act in line with the company’s strategy and that the reward indicators relate to factors that management and HR personnel can clearly influence through their own actions.

Methodical work to increase well-being

EPV takes a proactive approach to occupational health and well-being. At EPV, we regularly inquire into the state of the working environment and community with various surveys and studies, and develop our personnel policy and workplace atmosphere based on the results obtained from these.

Supervisors and employees also regularly hold performance appraisals where they discuss matters relating to well-being and coping at work. EPV Energy sees well-being at work as a broad concept that includes both mental and physical well-being.

Job satisfaction is monitored regularly with Group-wide job satisfaction surveys, which are carried out annually and encompass all personnel. Response rates to the survey have always been excellent. The 2021 survey was completed by 87 per cent of the staff.

The survey was slightly broader than last year, divided into five main sections: the content of my own work, the performance of my supervisor, the functioning of the work community, the performance of my employer’s management and my employer’s performance as an employer. In addition to these, questions were also asked about remote work.

Scores on all main indicators were excellent (ranging from 4.12 to 4.59, on a five-point scale from 1 to 5) and far exceeded the scores of the research institute’s benchmark data on all industries in every category.

The results showed a strong commitment to the company’s strategy and confidence in it, as well as a high willingness to recommend EPV as an employer. We are proud that during this challenging pandemic, our personnel showed particular appreciation for their employer’s efforts to keep everyone healthy.

Balancing work and life outside of work, and supervisors’ efforts to adequately inform employees about work-related issues have deteriorated compared to the previous survey, while enthusiasm and mental resources have also suffered. This almost certainly reflects people’s general experience of working life during a pandemic. Even in these areas, however, none the scores were lower than 4.

The year continued in exceptional circumstances due to COVID-19

Coronavirus has changed the way we work and the way our organisations communicate very quickly. EPV Energy’s Group companies made provisions for potential coronavirus infections, taking various types of action to prevent them. Special attention has been paid to the personnel’s ability to cope at work during the pandemic. In addition to the staff survey, EPV Energy conducted a separate hybrid work survey in the autumn of 2021 to find out whether employees find hybrid and remote work efficient.

Close cooperation with various stakeholder groups continued in 2021

We work closely together with our stakeholder groups in many matters concerning sustainable development, and we maintain an active dialogue. Stakeholder work is a significant part of EPV’s responsibility efforts. The company engages in continuous and open dialogue with its stakeholders and this dialogue is also put to good use in developing our operations. Our most important stakeholders are:

  • shareholders
  • employees
  • local business owners and partners
  • landowners
  • decision-makers
  • investors
  • public authorities
  • educational establishments
  • local communities

EPV is involved in influencing decision-making

Effective and well-functioning collaboration with decision-makers and public authorities helps us to streamline projects. As a member of various organisations, we are involved in influencing decision-making. Continuity of supply requires the maintenance of a diverse range of energy generation activities. EPV Energy produces electricity in Finland in a diverse way using several different energy sources and production methods. This wide range of energy generation cannot be built or managed, nor can electricity be transmitted, without effective collaboration with public authorities. Energy generation projects take a long time to complete. Municipal decision-makers and authorities play a crucial role in this process, from licencing processes to land-use planning and the assessment of environmental effects. Of course, communications with them continue throughout the life cycle of energy generation projects.

EPV prepares for electricity trade in accordance with the European regulations on electricity market integration

According to the European electricity market integration regulations, electricity trade is shifting from the current one-hour resolution to becoming faster. The 15-minute imbalance settlement period (ISP) will be adopted in the spring of 2023.

EPV’s experts are involved in several committees engaged in lobbying for the sector. EPV is:

  • Chair of the Electricity Market Committee of Finnish Energy and a member of Fingrid’s Electricity Market Committee
  • member of Fingrid’s Grid Committee
  • member of the Nordic imbalance settlement service company eSett Oy’s Customer Committee and of Finnish Energy’s Development Forum for Exchange of Information in the Wholesale Market
  • member of the national NBM working group led by Fingrid under Finnish Energy’s mandate, representing the viewpoint of wind power operators in matters relating to energy trading

Actively involved in various organisations within the sector

EPV Energy is involved in the activities of the key organisations of the energy sector, such as Finnish Energy, the Finnish Wind Power Association, the Bioenergy Association of Finland, and the World Energy Council Finland (WEC Finland). By participating in the activities of key organisations in the energy sector, we are involved in public debate and are able to have an influence. By participating actively, we always stay up to date on the latest developments in the sector and the operating environment.

In 2021, EPV Energy also joined Hydrogen Cluster Finland. Hydrogen Cluster Finland is a network of companies and industrial associations whose objective is to promote cooperation, various business models and the export of hydrogen-related solutions, as well as to communicate the benefits of hydrogen to the media, decision-makers and everyone interested in the hydrogen economy.

We collaborate with local companies

Outside our own organisation, we provide work for hundreds of companies every year. We engage in close and open cooperation with many different stakeholder groups. In addition to our own staff, we provide work for hundreds of business owners and professionals annually. After years of active collaboration, we have excellent networks of expert partners in place for different energy production methods. Local networks of subcontractors and partners are the lifeblood of our operations.

Getting local contractors involved in our projects

Local companies are important partners for EPV, for example in electricity transmission, wood procurement, power plants, peat production and the construction of wind power plants.

Close cooperation with landowners

We cooperate closely with landowners throughout the life cycle of a wind farm, for example, which may be up to 50 years. All in all, EPV’s wind farms are located on land belonging to a total of approximately 600 such landowners. Naturally, taking this large and important group of stakeholders into account is crucial for the entire EPV organisation. EPV also collaborates with landowners, for example, in connection with peat production and the construction of wind farms. Throughout the different stages of a wind power project, we actively engage with landowners and also seek dialogue by providing them with contact persons should they have questions or concerns.

We also work closely together with landowners when purchasing biofuel. We rent peat production areas from them and engage in timber trade with them. Timber harvesting is also always planned and agreed on with the landowner. After harvesting, we always discuss the process with them to find out how smoothly the harvest went and other details.

Landowners are involved in the maintenance of the electricity grid and in electricity transmission projects. When we begin planning new transmission lines, we contact landowners by sending them a letter with information about our plans. After general planning has progressed to the contract negotiation stage, we meet each landowner personally when necessary. During the meeting, we provide the landowner with more details about the locations of the pylons for the transmission line and why we have chosen these locations. At this stage, the landowner may still be able to have a say in where these locations are. At the beginning of the construction stage, the contractor will contact the landowners by letter. The letter will provide more detailed contact information and a schedule.