Any business activity has an impact on staff and the environment. Repower is committed to keeping this impact under control, improving it as far as possible on an ongoing basis, and creating sustainable offerings for its customers.
Environmental and workplace safety
Repower sees its responsibility to its people and the environment as an integral component of the way the entire company is managed.
To maximise employee health and safety, the company has a corresponding management system in place that is certified in accordance with OHSAS 18001:2007 (Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series).
Repower is committed to the safety of its employees. It conducts regular safety training for staff working on power plants and grid installations with the aim of reducing days of absence due to accidents at work and sickness. These courses are a permanent feature of measures at Repower designed to raise employee awareness of everyday risks and safety. In 2017 Repower ranked at the industry average in terms of days of absence.
In the course of the regular refinancing of sections of its renewable generation portfolio, Repower successfully placed two green bonds (Schuldscheindarlehen), issue date 23 January 2017, totalling EUR 50 million. The form of the loan is geared to the goal of making Repower’s generation portfolio 100 per cent renewables-based. An independent expert opinion confirmed that the assets underlying the financing meet the relevant requirements of the Green Bond Principles. Repower is the first Swiss company to conduct financing in this form, earning it a Green Bond Pioneer Award. Every year Ernst & Young performs audit procedures on the basis of the promissory note agreement to verify the corresponding financial information. The insights gained from these procedures are set down in a report on the actual findings on financial information in connection with the issue of promissory notes. The report confirms that the requirements set down in the promissory note agreement were met in 2017.
Repower has an ISO 14001:2004-certified environmental management system for handling environmentally-relevant processes. In recent years this system has helped the company reduce emissions continuously. Transport also plays a key role here, which is why the company’s in-house environmental specialists are actively involved in the issue. Repower also launched a one-year mobile working pilot project called Co-Working. Staff can work at selected co-working spaces close to their home or, if they have outside obligations, at the place where they’re deployed. Co-working spaces are shared offices where people from different companies work. This enables people to optimise their travel arrangements.
Repower is pursuing an exemplary environmental policy in connection with the project to renovate the Morteratsch power plant, which was completed in 2017. Following the rebuilding, additional water piping has supplied the precious system of waterways and bodies of water with more water. Another improvement is that the lakes and streams affected are subject to less extreme fluctuations in water level.
When renovating high-voltage lines Repower lays cables underground wherever it is possible and makes sense to do so. This is preferable in terms of conserving the landscape and limiting the effects of electromagnetic fields, but also involves extra expense.
Repower also markets its health and safety know-how to other energy utilities. Besides advice and training it provides support with introducing and running health and safety and environmental management systems.
Various work is pending for 2018 in connection with federal legislations on waterway protection designed to safeguard bodies of water from detrimental impact. The Miralago intake in the Valposchiavo is one of the bodies of water affected, and has to be upgraded by 2020. Next in line will be upgrades to make it passable for fish migration, for which Repower obtained a permit in 2017.
Repower continues to work on the environmental upgrade of landscapes surrounding hydropower plants. To this end an eco-fund was established in 2001, kept up by revenues from the sale of green power. The fund runs under the auspices of the municipality of Poschiavo, Pro Bernina Palü, the Fischerverein Poschiavo anglers’ association, WWF, Pro Natura, the cantonal office of nature and the environment, Associazione Agricola Poschiavo and Repower. At the end of 2017 the fund contained CHF 1.4 million. Part of the money will now be invested in projects to restore natural environments in the Valposchiavo area, with a focus on the restoration of the Cavaglia plateau. An environmental consultant has drawn up a restoration plan proposing and prioritising various upgrades. This project was driven forward in 2017, and in 2018 the first construction work will begin, with at least CHF 400,000 invested in upgrading the Cavaglia plateau.
Repower employs a total of 599 people in Switzerland and Italy (as of 31 December 2017). In Switzerland, Repower offers young professionals 30 apprenticeships in seven trades spread over different areas of Canton Graubünden. The group aspires to be an attractive employer and to offer fair conditions of employment. To limit staff turnover, Repower endeavours to develop and retain its staff. It also pursues an active employer branding policy to position itself externally as an employer and acquire new staff with the right skills. The company offers competitive compensation in line with each employee’s skills and experience. Repower places the emphasis on systematic management development and transparent internal communications. It also fosters an innovative corporate culture. Employees can help shape the future of the business by actively contributing to projects set up to develop new products and services.
In 2017 Repower underwent a review of the pay differential between men and women for equivalent work, and on 1 September 2017 was awarded a certificate by the Federal Office for Gender Equality (FOGE). Since back in 2015 Repower has been working with Landolt und Mächler Consultants, a company specialising in pay equality and salary systems. Landolt und Mächler’s review procedure is based on the ABAKABA approach recommended by the FOGE, which specifies that men and women should receive equal pay for equivalent work. Repower complies with this principle.
Every two years Repower conducts a groupwide staff survey to get a feel for the mood of its employees and develop on an ongoing basis. The survey findings are compared with previous findings and measured against an external benchmark.
Repower complies with the provisions of the law and keeps close track of upcoming changes in the relevant legislation. Compliance is one of the units responsible for this. The Compliance unit is not just charged with performing regular controls to ensure compliance with the law, but also with identifying compliance risks, doing prevention, and providing advice. Compliance provides training to raise staff awareness of issues such as data and information protection, insider trading, fair market behaviour, correct accounting and dealing with conflicts of interest. It is also the first point of contact for staff wishing to report concerns or violations. The work of the Compliance function is documented in regular reports.
In 2017 the Compliance function held various trainings. A total of 240 employees received training in combating corruption and internet fraud. The Compliance department collaborated with IT to run a campaign on phishing, which achieved very good results with staff. Training on regulatory management and the EU market abuse regulation was also held for staff in Switzerland and Italy.
Products and generation
Since 1 January 2017 Repower has supplied customers in its supply area with 100 per cent renewable electricity. The product portfolio consists of the standard product AQUAPOWER (Swiss hydropower), PUREPOWER (at least 5 per cent electricity from photovoltaic, biomass or wind installations; the remainder certified hydroelectric and mains water turbine-generated power from the Swiss mountains) and SOLARPOWER (100 per cent solar power from Graubünden).
In Italy, in addition to supplying business customers with TÜV-certified green power, Repower focuses on offering solutions to enable them to boost their energy efficiency. These offerings include eFFettiva (reducing electricity consumption), VAMPA (an energy check-up on the basis of thermal imaging), DIODA (LED lighting) and FOCUS (analysing energy consumption). The VAMPA and FOCUS products were refined and simplified in 2017.
During the year under review Repower continued to develop offerings in connection with electric vehicles in both Switzerland and Italy. In Switzerland the electric vehicle charging network already boasts around 100 PALINA and BITTA charging points, most of them in Graubünden. The network also includes more than 2,500 registered electric vehicle drivers. In Italy Repower has achieved a great deal of success with efforts to extend the RICARICA 101 charging network, which already had 200 stations by the end of the year under review, a year-on-year increase of 100 per cent. At the end of 2017 Repower Switzerland launched new charging points for home and business use with three models − WALLBOX PULSAR, WALLBOX COMMANDER and WALLBOX COPPER − designed especially for private households and featuring the latest technology. A total of 650 EV charging stations from Repower’s product range had been installed in Switzerland and Italy by the end of the year under review.
In 2017 Repower also replaced the entire street lighting for various local authorities, replacing it with a new system − street lighting from e-save, a company in Chur. By incorporating a feature that dims LED lighting according to the volume of traffic, energy consumption and ongoing costs can be significantly reduced without compromising quality or safety. Besides reducing the energy required, dimming extends the life of the lights and does a great deal to mitigate light pollution.
Repower’s SMARTPOWER smart metering solution, which was developed further in 2017, is making a significant contribution to promoting environmentally-aware energy consumption. The product is built around an innovative power-based tariff model, a smart metering solution and the comprehensive integration of customers. The goal is to intelligently combine and optimise energy strategy, efforts to expand the grid and the needs of customers efficiently and economically. The SMARTPOWER tariff gives the right price incentives. It’s based on the electric power (wattage) used rather than the volume in kWh. This encourages customers to optimise their consumption and at the same time save costs.
Hydropower is the mainstay of Repower’s own generation business. For this reason safeguarding the value of these assets by way of new finance models, for example the one used for the Morteratsch plant, is an integral part of the company’s strategy.