We want to involve city residents, customers and partners in the creation of a carbon-neutral future. Let’s join forces and turn the opportunities of a new energy era into reality.
In addition to the environment, our operations have an impact on people. Heat and electricity enable us to live in the cold North, but power plants alter the landscape, the energy network zigzagging the city must be maintained and repaired, and fuel has to be transported. Many people are interested in energy production, and it even provokes passions.
Our aim is to tell about our operations and to openly discuss the impacts they have on the environment and society together with our stakeholders. We present our operations with, e.g. power plant visits and in various events and meetings in addition to our customer magazine and website.
In order to operate responsibly, we must know our stakeholders and their expectations. We probe the views of our stakeholders with surveys and meetings. We also receive a lot of feedback through various channels, which helps us to develop our operations. We focus our stakeholder interaction especially on topical themes and stakeholders that are interested in us.
SECURITY OF SUPPLY AND PHASING OUT FOSSIL FUELS ARE IMPORTANT TO OUR STAKEHOLDERS
In 2018, we sought our stakeholders’ views of Helen’s responsibility work via an extensive online dialogue. The respondents found the most important areas in Helen’s sustainability work to be the abandoning of fossil fuels and increasing the use of renewable energy sources, especially solar energy and reducing emissions.
The security of energy supply was voted as the most important theme. According to the comments, Helen must ensure security of supply in Helsinki and partly also in the rest of the country, as well as electricity self-sufficiency. Taking care of the security of supply in connection with the introduction of renewable energy forms was also regarded as important.
The results of the survey had an impact on the development of our operations in 2019. We used the survey results in the selection of Helen’s key responsibility themes and in the development of communications, such as the corporate social responsibility report.
DEBATE ON COAL AND BIOENERGY
The topics that attracted the most debate among our stakeholders in 2019 were the phasing out of the energy use of coal and the sustainability of bioenergy, as well as their impacts on the environment and society. During 2019, we held discussion meetings for our stakeholders concerning Helen’s bioenergy plans, the energy system of the future and the reform of the heat market. We will continue organising discussion forums also in 2020.
In spring 2018, the Government published a legislative proposal to ban the energy use of coal. The proposal raised a lot of questions and debate, for example, concerning the time schedule and means of replacing coal in Helsinki. The debate continued in 2019. We took part in the public debate by highlighting Helen’s solutions for replacing coal.
Discussion on the sustainability of bioenergy continued, for example, with the processing of the EU bioenergy sustainability criteria. Sufficiency of bioenergy, biodiversity, carbon sequestration, and climate impacts throughout the life cycle raised a lot of discussion.
Studies on the construction of a bioenergy heating plant in Helsinki continued in 2019. The planned areas were in Patola, Tattarisuo and Vuosaari. Bioheat will contribute to replacing coal use and ensure sufficient supplies of district heat after the closing of the Hanasaari power plant. The environmental impact assessment process of the Tattarisuo bioenergy heating plant was completed in spring 2019 after the Uusimaa Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment issued a statement in which it concludes that the studies carried out are sufficient at this stage. The environmental permit was granted for the Vuosaari bioenergy heating plant in spring 2019. Helen’s Board of Directors decided on the planning of the Vuosaari bioenergy heating plant in 2019 and the investment decision was made in early 2020. This and the previous investment decisions on heat pumps and energy storage will make it possible to close the Hanasaari power plant.
Studies on the energy use of both Tattarisuo and Patola areas are making progress alongside the planning of the Vuosaari project, and any decisions will be made at a later date. However, new energy management areas are needed regardless of the form of energy production.
RECOGNITION ON BRAND RESPONSIBILITY
The Sustainable Brand Index is the most extensive brand survey on sustainability in the Nordic countries, capturing the citizens' views of the sustainability of companies. In the study conducted in 2017 and 2018, Helen was ranked the most responsible actor in the field, but in 2019 we only came third and also fell in the total ranking from 32 to 51. In the view of our customers, we were still doing well, with the result being in excess of 100 per cent (cf. the average of all respondents was 59 per cent).
The results are probably affected at least by the fact that, as a result of the ban on coal, the use of coal featured strongly in the media. Due to Helen’s strategy which was renewed in 2019, responsibility and corporate responsibility communications have been given an increasingly greater priority. Communicating about Helen’s responsible and sustainable solutions and stronger promotion of the customer perspective may contribute to people’s regard of the brand’s level of responsibility.