From managing director

Helen’s first year – a year of renewal

At Helen, 2015 was a year of many reforms. The old name, Helsingin Energia, was now part of history after Helen Ltd started operations on 1 January 2015. The change of name and appearance made our reform visible to the outside, too.

From the financial point of view, Helen’s first year of operation went according to plan. However, 2015 was characterised by exceptional weather conditions. District heat sales decreased as a result of the mild winter weather, and the cool summer eroded the expected growth in the sale of district cooling energy. The fall in fuel costs compensated for the reduction in net sales, and the results were at the predicted level. 

Number one in customer service

We are developing customer experience and customer satisfaction in a systematic way. We are carrying out this development work in close cooperation with our customers and stakeholders.

Our customer services were once again ranked highest in the EPSI Rating Finland survey on customer satisfaction in electricity retail sales. Helen has held on to its number one position among major energy companies for 10 years.

We make significant investments in customer-oriented product and service development. Customers are given the opportunity to take part in and influence product development and to improve their user experiences. Good examples of this work include the designated panel service we have developed for those who are interested in solar energy, as well as the completely new kind of renewable district heat service for customers living in apartment blocks.

We carried out an internal structural reorganisation to meet our customers’ needs even better than before. We streamlined our operations and combined our electricity, district heat and district cooling services under the same organisation. Concentration of asset management will improve and harmonise the condition management of production plants and the heating and cooling networks. By concentrating the energy sales, Helen seeks to increasingly improve its margin management in the current difficult market environment. These changes have not had an impact on the company’s number of employees.

Investments in renewable energy and emissions reduction

Year 2015 was characterised by major decisions. We planned a new, distributed model to increase renewable energy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The implementation solution, with progressive investment in biofuels used in heat production, was approved by the City Council of Helsinki last December. At the same time, the Council decided on decommissioning the Hanasaari coal-fired power plant by 31 December 2024 at the latest.

With progressive investment, it is possible to take into account new technological solutions and any changes in customers’ energy use. We are also investigating, for example, the utilisation of geothermal heat, and we are seeking new opportunities to expand the use of solar heat and heat pumps. Helen is already Finland’s largest producer of solar heat.

The first significant investment project will be a pellet-fired heating plant designed for the Salmisaari power plant area, replacing the oil-fired heating plant. Once completed, the amount of energy produced by the plant would meet the heating need of 25,000 one-bedroom apartments.

The next step will be to build a large bio-energy heating plant in the Vuosaari power plant area and possibly also at another site.

Pellet combustion equipment was built at the Hanasaari power plant in 2015, enabling the combustion of wood pellets mixed with coal. Similar equipment has already been installed at the Salmisaari power plant. With the designed combustion volume, Helen will use one-third of the entire pellet production in Finland.
Investments in the cleaning of flue gases and especially in the reduction of nitrogen oxides, worth almost EUR 20 million, were also carried out at the Salmisaari and Hanasaari power plants. A new underground substation in Pasila was completed.

Helen’s current city energy concept is based on the internationally awarded, energy-efficient cogeneration of electricity, district heat and district cooling and extensive utilisation of waste energies. As Finland’s largest producer of solar power, Helen continues to invest in the utilisation of solar energy. Energy storage and the development of demand-response services are also continued.

We will carry on implementing our world-class energy solutions in order to meet our target of carbon-neutral energy production in 2050.

Outlook 2016

The profit forecast for 2016 is significantly lower than in the previous year. Uncertainties in the economy and the energy markets in Europe and Finland continue to have repercussions on Helen’s operations. According to forecasts, the electricity market will be very difficult for electricity producers in the next few years. The volume of subsidised renewable production is growing rapidly. The prices are at a low level, and the steep price fluctuations continue and strengthen further. Solutions related to Helen’s development programme will already have an impact on the company’s results this year.

The challenging market situation and the intensified competition are the result of the shift in the energy sector. This kind of shift creates good opportunities for efficient and new kind of business operations. We will continue to improve the efficiency of our own operations and develop new products and services to maintain Helen’s position as the forerunner of energy companies and a reformer of the energy sector.

The business figures of Helen Ltd are not comparable with the operations of Helsingin Energia with the exception of sales-related energy volumes.

I wish to express my sincerest thanks to our employees, customers and partners for excellent cooperation with Helen Ltd in its first year of operation.

Pekka Manninen
President & CEO