Between 2021 and 2022, two years that will go down in history due to the spectacular rise in electricity and gas prices, Alperia “will guarantee nearly 200 million euros to support the electricity consumption of families and companies”. Johann Wohlfarter has been at the helm of South Tyrol’s multi-utility since 2016, that is, since the merger between the Aew of the municipalities of Bolzano and Merano and the Sel of the autonomous province of Bolzano, giving life to the second national hydroelectric producer, with approximately 1.4 GW of installed capacity, spread over 40 power plants throughout South Tyrol.
“We have achieved the result we wanted, that is to create an energy company in South Tyrol – he adds – with the approval of the 2021 budget, the organs will be renewed. At the end of this year I reach retirement age and perhaps we could, if the shareholders agree, give way to young people”, even if more than one – given the work done the past few years and the perfect geopolitical and stock market storm underway – would like to see him back at the front of the pack.
It is obvious that this is a delicate period. On the one hand, expensive energy, which puts a strain on families and businesses. On the other hand, there are some controversial government measures: the drop in profits which could lead to “a significant overhaul of our investment plan”, currently equal to 1 billion between 2022 and 2024, and the competition bill, which is accelerating on tenders for hydroelectricity. concessions, “endangering the control of strategic assets for our territories”. All while Alperia, in any case, continues to have “national growth objectives”. “We recently completed an acquisition to strengthen the commercial presence in central Italy, and we are still watching very carefully what is happening in the North East, and in Veneto in particular,” says Wohlfarter.
Alperia acted in various directions on the expensive bills. First of all, more than 10,000 companies in South Tyrol associated with the Südtiroler Wirtschaftsring – Economy South Tyrol have subscribed to a three-year electricity offer on particularly favorable terms and which can be activated at any time, effectively below the market price. Savings for SMEs? About 15 million estimated over the two-year period 2021-2022. “Thanks to our advice – the manager points out – many companies have also signed contracts with multi-year fixed electricity prices and lower than those of today. Planning, especially for SMEs, is increasingly important, even though we have already been working on this front for 10 years. In this case, the savings are significant for the industry in South Tyrol: 42 million for 2021 and almost 90 million estimated for 2022”.
Detailed chapter: again around 40,000 individual customers subscribed to the package last December, freezing the price of electricity in September 2021 for a period of between 12 and 18 months, and thus saving, compared to the protected market, 15 million in 2021 and more than 27 million in 2022 (400 euros per family). The sum of all these components, between businesses and businesses, reaches around 200 million.
The longer-term objective is to become a partner of customers, “where we are the facilitators of a transition towards a more conscious use of energy: this means being a green company, that is to say evaluating the impacts of each investment choice and be prepared to review many current business models.
For the green operators of this period, there is no shortage of unknowns. Starting from the so-called “profit reduction” introduced with Sostegni-ter: “a measure that does not solve the emergency situation – underlines Wohlfarter – but which only penalizes renewable sources, which rather constitute the sector in which it must invest in solving the structural problem of costly energy”. In this way, he adds, the risk of jeopardizing the achievement of the energy transition objectives of the PNR and the new European objectives for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. greenhouse gas, giving a signal of regulatory instability that could lead to an exit from the country of investments in renewable energy.” This would have been better an incentive to reinvest (and not distribute) these profits in favor of an acceleration of the growth of renewable energies and the energy transition of companies and families”, says the manager. The impacts on the income statement? “We are still evaluating them, we await the conversion of the decree and the position of Arera”.
Then there is the draft law on competition, which provides for “an acceleration of the procedures for the reattribution of hydroelectric concessions which would severely penalize our country and the national operators, favoring on the contrary the possibility for foreign operators to enter and jeopardize the control of strategic assets. for the territories”, warns the number one of the South Tyrolean group. For Alperia, the first concession deadlines are in July 2023. Moreover, underlines Wohlfarter, Italy paradoxically risks being the only European country to launch calls for tenders for hydroelectric concessions: “All this while Copasir underlined the need to review current legislation and that Minister Cingolani was highlighting the recent decision to extend its concessions until 2041”. The alternate solution? “Immediately consider the possibility of remodeling the duration of concessions upwards in the face of the short-term start-up by operators of suitable investments which would allow an extension of the life of power plants and undeniable positive effects on all territories both in terms environmental and economic.