We want to involve city residents, customers and partners in the creation of a carbon-neutral future.
We have an impact both the environment and 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 us and our operations and to openly discuss the impacts we 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 online dialogue. The dialogue had more than 500 participations. More than 70 per cent of the representatives of our external stakeholders who took part in the survey regarded Helen as a responsible actor. We asked the same question in 2014, at which time the share of satisfied respondents was 44 per cent.
With the dialogue, we sought our stakeholders' views on how we could act in an even more responsible way. The participants answered the question in their own words and prioritised the suggestions of other participants according to what is most important in Helen's responsibility. The concept of phasing out fossil fuels generated the highest number of spontaneous thoughts – just over one-fifth of the more than 560 open responses were related to the reduction in the use of fossil energy. Increasing the use of renewable energy sources, especially solar energy, and emissions reduction were topics that sparked off the second highest number of comments.
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 have an impact on the development of our operations. 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 Helen's stakeholders in 2018 were the ban on the energy use of coal, the sustainability of bioenergy, and the impacts of the Tattarisuo bioenergy heating plant on the environment and society.
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. We took part in the debate by highlighting Helen’s solutions to replace coal.
Discussion on the sustainability of bioenergy continued, for example, with the processing of the EU renewable energy directive that includes criteria for the sustainability of bioenergy. Sufficiency of bioenergy, biodiversity, carbon sequestration, and climate impacts throughout the life cycle raised a lot of discussion.
The planning of the Tattarisuo bioenergy heating plant continued during 2018. A statutory environmental impact assessment was carried out on the heating plant, assessing the impacts of the bioenergy heating plant on the environment and people. As a result of stakeholder feedback, we included another site option south of Tattarisuo in the planning. Plans for the heating plant raised many concerns among the local residents, and therefore we had a considerable amount of discussion about the heating plant's impacts on people and the environment. In addition to the events related to the environmental impact assessment, we also held an extra event for residents and had also consultations with the residents. The environmental impact assessment process will be completed in 2019, after which a decision will be made on the start of the plant’s land use planning and licensing processes. No investment decision has been made on the Tattarisuo heating plant.
During 2018, we held discussion forums for our stakeholders concerning Helen’s bioenergy plans, future energy system and the renewal of the heat market. We will continue organising discussion forums also in 2019.
RECOGNITION ON BRAND RESPONSIBILITY
In 2018 we received positive feedback: based on the Sustainable Brand Index survey, we are the most responsible brand among energy companies for the second time in a row. 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. Helen had an overall ranking of 32 (28 in 2017).
The Helen brand also gained international recognition as it was awarded as one of the world’s best energy brands in the CHARGE energy branding competition. The award-winning brands were selected on the basis of results from a panel of experts, a customer survey and an independent analysis. We were included in the biggest category of the contest, best-established brands.