Market Italy segment
The dominant theme in Sales in 2016 was expansion of the sales network throughout Italy. The number of sales consultants increased by more than 100. Recruiting additional consultants, and training, will continue to be a focus in the future. Last year the sales network supplied more than 23,000 business customers with electricity and a further 10,000 with gas. In addition to existing energy and service offerings and solutions for electric vehicles such as Verde Dentro, VAMPA, eFFettiva, PALINA, BITTA and FOCUS, all of which were developed further in 2016, Repower also officially launched its DIODA product. DIODA delivers significant benefits for customers on the basis of efficient LED lighting. Added to this, Repower moved forward successfully with BIG, a project aimed at acquiring large customers for gas. Repower was able to optimise its processes and systems for managing accounts receivable and reduce outstanding accounts across the board by means of additional provisions.
The Milan trading business made a positive contribution to earnings with electricity, even though the market situation presented traders with few opportunities. A slump on the international markets meant that the results for gas were negative. Repricer, a direct electricity and gas contract platform for large consumers, continued to generate numerous deals last year.
The Teverola combined-cycle gas turbine plant exceeded expectations, making a substantial contribution to the good results posted by the generation business in Italy. The same applies to the three wind farms, Lucera, Corleto Perticara and Giunchetto, which generated more electricity than in previous years.
In terms of innovation, the Ricarica 101 project is particularly deserving of mention. The plan is to set up a nationwide network of charging stations for electric vehicles. Since the project was launched in early autumn, more than 120 customers from the target audience of high-end businesses such as hotels, restaurants and golf resorts have signed up to operate a charging station. They will add value for customers with electric vehicles by installing PALINA 2.0, a refined and higher-capacity version of the PALINA charging point.
Last year Repower also launched three new tariff models primarily geared to large customers: Unica, Viscontea and Fibonacci. Last but not least, the company introduced the Pro Sisma tariff, part of which goes to earthquake victims in central Italy.
In 2016 Repower Italy scored very highly in the annual energy business survey conducted by the Eurisko research institute, earning extremely high customer satisfaction ratings by comparison with the main players on the Italian market.
The Market Italy segment’s contribution to the Repower Group’s operating income in 2016 came to CHF 10 million.
Last year Repower supplied more than 23,000 business customers in Italy with electricity. It also supplied gas to more than 10,000 small and medium-sized enterprises. Customers in Italy receive expert advice via an extensive network of highly qualified sales consultants.
In 2016 Repower significantly expanded this network and optimised its presence in all regions of the country. By the end of the year almost 600 consultants were working for Repower. Besides increasing the number of consultants, during the year under review Repower provided targeted training designed to enable the sales force to deepen and broaden their knowledge and skills in energy efficiency, electric vehicles (EV) and the EV charging infrastructure. The gratifying results of this training prompted Repower to continue recruiting new sales consultants and offering further training to existing consultants in 2017. The goal is to further professionalise and step up the company’s presence all over Italy. As Repower has pursued this consultant approach ever since it began selling in Italy, the set-up is to be further consolidated. In 2017 advanced training will focus on the individual needs of the various customer groups and how to recognise and satisfy them.
The Verde Dentro offering, originally launched by Repower as a package consisting of green power, certificates, electric vehicles and energy efficiency services, now boasts almost 500 customers and a volume of around 90 gigawatt hours. In 2016 customers displayed growing interest in TÜV-certified electricity, independently of the combination with electric vehicle and energy efficiency services. Repower augmented its range of offerings accordingly.
The innovative VAMPA services, an energy check-up on the basis of thermal imaging, was very well received during the year under review. More than 300 corporate customers have chosen VAMPA to check their equipment for potential faults.
In 2016 Repower refined its product eFFettiva, also designed to help companies boost their energy efficiency. Now, thanks to more flexible contracts, customers can use precisely the services they require, and Repower can address their needs even more individually. eFFettiva uses software to record and visualise energy consumption. Repower then analyses these measurements as the basis for giving customers recommendations on how to use energy even more efficiently.
In July last year, following a test phase, Repower officially launched its DIODA product, and has already acquired more than 70 customers. DIODA replaces conventional lamps with energy-saving LED lighting. Repower also offers customers an installation service.
The origins of Repower’s FOCUS service go back to 2015, when a law was introduced in Italy obliging companies to analyse their energy consumption and undergo energy certification. Under FOCUS, Repower carried out this service on behalf of its customers. Once the legal requirement had elapsed, Repower launched FOCUS light, a less comprehensive analysis for corporate customers wishing to continue with the energy diagnosis on a voluntary basis or adopt it for the first time.
Last year was a good year for electric vehicles. After several months of testing, in June Repower brought the PALINA 2.0 charging station to market. This is a refined and technically optimised version of the original PALINA. Also in 2016 Repower launched the nationwide Ricarica 101 project (see the section on innovation below). Last year the company sold a total of around 15 PALINAs and 45 BITTAs (another charging station also developed by Repower) in Italy. It also concluded more than 100 rental agreements for PALINA charging stations.
In addition, in the year under review Repower continued with BIG, a project designed to expand the portfolio of large customers that has so far focused on the sale of gas (consumption of more than 1 million cubic metres). In 2016 the company got ten more such customers on board. Repower plans to extend the project to cover sales of electricity.
Last year the company made considerable progress on the accounts receivable side, introducing an automated process for sending reminders for short-term outstanding accounts. This way it was possible to recoup an average of 70 per cent of outstanding accounts in an early phase. The company also improved all its debt collection processes and systems, in some cases with specialist consultants. Repower also continued the practice of analysing the creditworthiness and reliability of large prospective customers at the start of the acquisition process.
Last year Repower again ran the Organismo Perfetto campaign across the whole of Italy, presenting itself and its consultants as “personal trainers” for business customers seeking to improve their energy efficiency. The campaign featured particularly prominently on digital platforms, television and the radio. A similar type of campaign is planned for 2017.
TRADING IN MILAN
In 2016 Repower sold almost 1.2 terawatt hours of electricity via trading in Milan, and almost 2.4 billion cubic metres of gas.
As for the development of the market in general, sales margins could be maintained even though the market got tighter. Results on the electricity side were positive, thanks particularly to the Teverola plant. Gas, by contrast, posted negative results because of lower prices on the European markets.
The Repricer procurement platform was again in great demand during the year under review. Large electricity and gas customers can use the web-based system to get a quote for their requirements and conclude the deal immediately if they are interested.
The Teverola combined-cycle gas turbine plant in the Italian region of Campania posted very good results in the year under review, successfully deployed for both the ancillary services and day-ahead markets. After a fairly difficult year in 2015, the so-called spark spread between the proceeds from the power generated and the costs of gas was encouraging, and together with revenues for balancing energy led to a very good result overall.
The three wind farms – Lucera (Apulia), Corleto Perticara (Basilicata) and Giunchetto (Sicily) – also put in an extremely good performance, with yields well in excess of previous years. The Lucera and Corleto Perticara farms are wholly owned by Repower; the company holds a 39 per cent interest in the Giunchetto farm.
In the year under review Repower launched an innovative new project called Ricarica 101. Even in the first few months it developed surprisingly quickly, getting a positive response from customers. Ricarica 101 aims to set up an extensive network of electric vehicle charging stations in Italy. The plan is to install at least one charging point in 101 defined zones across the country to enable travel with electric vehicles in all regions of Italy. The charging station is sustained by businesses in the premium segment, with hotels, restaurants, golf resorts and other establishments operating one or more PALINAs while at the same time catering to guests who stop to charge their vehicle. Since the project was launched Repower has acquired more than 120 customers and has already covered 68 of the designated 101 zones. Repower plans to pursue this business-to-business model with other customer groups on the regional level.
Last year Repower developed three new and innovative tariffs for the Italian market called Unica, Viscontea and Fibonacci. Under the Unica tariff, the price of electricity used is always the same, regardless of the time of day. However, it is adjusted in line with the Brent oil price index every month. Under the Fibonacci model, the price of the electricity gets lower and lower as the cumulative volume consumed increases. This tariff, geared particularly to medium-sized consumers (more than 300 MWh/year), is designed to reward loyal customers and consolidate long-term partnerships. Under Viscontea there is a fixed price for half of the customer’s monthly consumption and a variable price based on market numbers for the other half.
Repower’s latest product, launched in November 2016, is called Pro Sisma. It is designed for companies that want to support charitable causes. Repower invests part of the revenues from the product in projects working for victims of the recent earthquakes in central Italy.
The Market Italy segment posted operating income (EBIT) of CHF 10 million in 2016. CHF 25 million in revenues from balancing energy gave a significant boost to income. Impairment gains of CHF 13 million at the Teverola combined-cycle gas turbine plant made another positive contribution, while impairments on overdue receivables (CHF –31 million) had a negative impact.