Acea group customers: electricity and water services
According to the latest data from the Regulation Authority for En- ergy, Networks and the Environment (ARERA)41, Acea Energia is Italy’s seventh largest operator in terms of volumes of electricity sold on the final market, an improvement of 3 positions from its previous position and third, with a 3.3% market share, for energy sold to families (“domestic customers”). The company also con- firmed its position as Italy's second largest operator in terms of volumes sold to customers of the standard market service, with a market share of 5.4%, and became eleventh in terms of volumes sold to the free market, with a share of 2.3% (it was sixteenth in the previous survey, with a share of 1.9%).
The contracts managed by the Group for electricity and gas (free market and standard market service42), as at 31/12/2021, are more than 1,416,000, with an increase compared to the 2020 figure (+2%), which concerned all types of customers in the free market segment (see table No. 15).
Areti, holder of the ministerial concession for the distribution of electricity in the territory of Rome and Formello, is Italy’s third largest operator in terms of volumes of energy distributed, with 3.6% of the market share (4.7% in the “domestic” and 3.3% in the “non-domestic”) market and Italy’s second largest opera- tor in terms of withdrawal points43. As at 31/12/2021, it manages 1,640,461 withdrawal points. The growth of the customer base, which generally shows slight increases or decreases, is due both to urban expansion and disposals resulting, for example, from discon- tinued operations (see Table No. 15).
PROSUMERS CONNECTED TO ACEA'S NETWORKS: GROWTH TREND CONFIRMED IN 2021
A prosumer is at the same time a producer and consumer of energy; it partially or totally ensures its own energy supply and transfers any surplus produced to the grid. In the new energy model, prosumers play an increasingly consolidated and widespread role, interacting with both the distributor and the entity in charge of selling/collect- ing energy. Acea responds adequately to the evolution of the en- ergy model, by developing the capacity of connection, transmission and distribution systems.
At 31/12/2021, there were 15,786 prosumers active on the energy distribution network managed by Areti: this figure, compared to the 14,641 prosumers recorded in 2020, confirms an annual growth trend of around 8%, the same percentage increase already record- ed between 2020 and 2019. The largest number of prosumers (13,019) are qualified as "domestic prosumers", i.e. customers with residential user contracts who are also small-scale energy produc- ers, and 2,767 are qualified as "other uses", i.e. non-domestic users (businesses, professional firms and artisans). About 9,000 of the prosumers on the Acea network are fed Acea Energia customers. The energy fed into the grid by these entities in 2021 is 84.43 GWh, of which about 75% is from photovoltaic sources.
USERS OF THE SOCIAL ELECTRICITY AND GAS BONUS: WHAT'S NEW IN 2021
With regard to the disbursement of the social electricity and gas bonus provided for customers with economic difficulties and for customers who, due to their state of health, require energy-intensive medical equipment, it is worth noting the intervening evolution of the legislation (Decree-Law No. 124 of 26 October 2019, converted with amendments by Law No. 157 of 19 December 2019) according to which, as of 1 January 2021, while the bonus for physical hardship continues to be managed by municipalities and/or CAFs, social bonuses for economic hardship are automatically recognised to citizens/households which are entitled to them. In order to obtain the bonus for economic hardship, it is sufficient to request the ISEE certificate; if the household meets the conditions that entitle it to the bonus, INPS, in compliance with privacy regulations, sends the necessary data to the Integrated Information System (IIS), managed by Acquirente Unico company, which cross-checks the data received with those relating to electricity supplies, enabling the automatic payment of the bonus to those entitled. This development has led to a significant increase in the number of bonus beneficiaries (electricity and gas).
In 2021 the number of Acea Energia customers eligible for the electricity bonus, in the protected and free markets, was 57,64444 (the figure in 2020 was 26,053 customers accepted), who benefited from overall economic savings of almost € 7.4 million. In particular, 56,914 bonuses were paid for economic hardship (99% of the total) and 828 for physical hardship (state of health), making a total of 57,742, which is higher than the number of beneficiary customers as one customer may be entitled to both bonuses.
Similarly to the electricity bonus, ARERA provides for the "GAS bonus", with similar procedures. The number of customers eligible for this bonus in 2021 was 19,147, representing savings exceeding € 1.4 million.
Overall, during the year, the bonus system (both electricity and gas) resulted in savings of around € 8.8 million for Acea Energia customers who benefited from it.
In the area served by the distribution network managed by Areti, in 2021 there will be a total of 91,796 customers eligible for the electricity bonus (90,664 for economic hardship, 1,132 for physical hardship); this figure, which refers to customers served, for the "sales" component, by companies other than Acea Energia, has undergone an exceptional increase (those eligible for the bonus were 11,649 in 2020), following the automatic mechanism introduced by the above-mentioned legislation.
Acea is also Italy’s leading integrated water service operator (catchment, supply, purification, wastewater collection and treatment) in terms of population covered, with approximately 2.7 million connected users and an overall base consisting of 8.5 million inhabitants in Italy (see Table no. 15). Within the area of Rome and province alone, managed by Acea Ato 2, there are over 705,000 users and a served population equal to about 3.7 million people. Starting from this area – Ato 2-Central Lazio – over time the Group has expanded its activities, becoming the reference operator also in the province of Frosinone (Lazio), in the provinces of Pisa, Florence, Siena, Grosseto, Arezzo and Lucca (Tuscany), in the areas from the Sorrento peninsula to the areas around Vesuvius in the provinces of Naples and Salerno and the province of Benevento (Campania) and Perugia and Terni (Umbria). Moreover, the Group operates in a number of South American countries.
THE APPLICATION PROCESS OF THE NATIONAL SOCIAL WATER BONUS
The social water bonus, implemented by the Authority since 2017 with the approval of the application methods (TIBSI)45, provides for a discount for the supply of water to domestic users under ascertained socio-economic hardship, based on specific thresholds of the ISEE indicator. The bonus is calculated by each operator according to family numbers (per capita basis), applying the discounted tariff to the quantity of water required to satisfy the protected amount (about 50 litres/inhabitant/day). Area Governing Bodies may introduce or confirm further measures of protection for users in financially vulnerable conditions, granting a local “supplementary water bonus”.
As of 1 January 2021, national water bonuses for economic hardship are granted automatically to citizens/family units who are entitled to them, without requiring submission of an application (pursuant to Decree Law No. 124 of 26 October 2019, converted with amendments by Law No. 157 of 19 December 2019). With Resolution 11/2020 - DACU (Consumer and User Advocacy Directorate) of 29 December 2020, ARERA approved the provisions for managing the transition period to the new system of automatic recognition of social bonuses for economic hardship, as well as the application methods (Resolution 63/2021/R/com, subsequently amended and supplemented by Resolution 257/2021/R/com). As far as the water bonus is concerned, the resolution regulates the activities that fall within the competence of the concerned territorial water manager, with reference, among other things, to the procedures for identifying the water supplies to be facilitated, the criteria for quantifying the bonus and the procedures for its subsequent payment to those entitled to it. The process of automatic recognition of the bonus is based on the exchange of information flows between the Water Operator and Acquirente Unico SpA, in its capacity as manager of the Integrated Information System (IIS) which, in turn, receives some of the necessary data from INPS. With the subsequent Resolution 366/2021/R/com, ARERA assigned responsibility for the processing of personal data functional to the activities of identifying users and payment of the bonus to the Operators. The procedure for appointing the Operators as personal data controllers is currently being finalised, at the end of which Acquirente Unico will be able to transmit to the Operators the information received from INPS regarding the data of the entitled persons, thus starting the automatic recognition system.
NATIONAL AND INTEGRATED WATER BONUS USERS FOR ACEA GROUP COMPANIES
In 2021, with the support of the Parent Company's Communication Department, the water companies also carried out information campaigns on the water bonus aimed at users (see also the section on Communication, events and solidarity). Acea Ato 2, which also recognises on a local basis the supplementary water bonus approved by its own Area Governing Body, has also given ample visibility to the issue on its customer communication channels (dedicated page on its website, information on bills, etc.).
With regard to the 2021 data relating to customers entitled to the national water bonus, it should be kept in mind that, where possible, they have only been partially accounted for and for the first few months of the year; this situation, which applies to all Operators, occurred because the application of the system for automatic recognition of the bonus is being finalised (see the box on the application process for the water bonus).
In light of the partial accounting, therefore, Acea Ato 2 paid 8,034 national water bonuses for an economic value of approximately € 354,000 and 3,657 supplementary (local) water bonuses for an economic value of € 858,400. The supplementary bonus was higher than the 2020 figures (746 supplementary water bonuses, with an economic value of € 135,298) thanks to the possibility for those entitled to access, in addition to the ordinary valuation, and exclusively to cover past arrears, an additional one-off amount of up to three times the ordinary valuation. This provision, approved by the Conference of Mayors of ATO 2, has been envisaged on an extraordinary basis for the whole of 2021 - unless extended - in view of the emergency situation resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic. In the first few months of 2021, Acea Ato 5 accepted 307 requests for the national water bonus, which generated total savings for beneficiaries of around € 35,000.
AdF continued to give visibility to the possibility of accessing the national water bonus and the supplementary bonus through the fiora.it website and by notices posted at branches. In 2021, AdF invoiced the social water bonus to 4,558 beneficiaries for requests made in 2020 but with a 2021 benefits end date, for a value of around 480,000. In addition, a total of 2,649 users benefited from the supplementary water bonus, amounting to € 595,234.
For GORI, the total number of those entitled to the water bonus in the year was 21,538 beneficiaries, with a saving of € 880,739. In May 2021, Gesesa launched a communication campaign through banners, commercials, press releases and through social media channels to give visibility and information on the procedures for accessing the water bonus benefits.
For the water companies in the scope, therefore, cumulating the data of the supplementary water bonuses, where applied, and the partial data from the national water bonuses, where available, the system has generated for the beneficiaries a total economic saving of approximately € 2.4 million.
Table no. 15 – Customers (energy and water sectors) (2019-2021)
eNERGY AND GAS SALES (Acea Energia and Umbria Energy)
|standard market service||no. of withdrawal points||774.823||738.989||700.496|
|free market EE - mass market||no. of withdrawal points||322.037||364.378||393.182|
|free market EE - large customers||no. of withdrawal points||76.902||72.195||94.698|
|free market gas||no. of redelivery points||192.107||212.234||228.148|
|total||n. contratti di fornitura||1.365.869||1.387.796||1.416.524|
|dISTRIBUZIONE DELL'ENERGIA (Areti)|
|domestic customers, low voltage||no. of withdrawal points||1.326.078||1.330.557||1.338.868|
|non-domestic customers, low voltage||no. of withdrawal points||305.925||296.248||298.736|
|customers at medium voltage||no. of withdrawal points||2.907||3.116||2.851|
|customers at high voltage||no. of withdrawal points||7||7||6|
|total||no. of withdrawal points||1.634.917||1.629.928||1.640.461|
|wATE SALE AND DISTRIBUTION (main water Companies of Acea Group)|
|Acea Ato 2||no. of users||692.893||705.685||705.607|
|Acea Ato 5||no. of users||199.823||200.876||201.878|
|Gori||no. of users||528.437||531.987||533.662|
|Gesesa||no. of users||57.142||57.247||57.404|
|AdF (*)||no. of users||231.690||232.152||233.440|
|Acque||no. of users||326.105||327.412||329.973|
|Publiacqua (**)||no. of users||397.684||399.943||402.370|
|Umbra Acque||no. of users||233.460||234.185||234.850|
|Acea Ato 2||population served||3.704.931||3.705.295||3.705.995|
|Acea Ato 5||population served||469.836||467.993||455.164|
|Acque (***)||population served||737.455||734.898||734.898|
|Publiacqua (****)||population served||1.247.216||1.217.083||1.217.083|
|Umbra Acque||population served||501.186||494.272||493.460|
(*) The 2021 figures are estimates.
(**) Some 2020 figures on users and/or 'population served' have been adjusted, after the final calculation.
(***) Figures for 2021 are estimates; some 2020 figures on users and/or "population served" have been adjusted, after the final calculation.
(****) Some 2020 data on users and/or the 'population served’ have been adjusted after the final calculation.
41See the Annual report on the status of services and activities carried out, 2021 edition (on 2020 data), Structure, pricing and quality in the electricity sector, available online on the website of the Authority (ARERA).
42The relevant national Authority accurately defines the energy market segments. See the ARERA website.
43See the Annual report on the status of services and activities carried out, 2021 edition (on 2020 data), Structure, pricing and quality in the electricity sector, available online on the ARERA website.
44For customers with financial hardship and health problems reference is made to the number of customers who benefited from the bonus at least once during the year.
45Resolution 897/2017, integrated text of the implementing rules for the social water bonus – TIBSI and subsequent amendments and additions in 2019 (resolution 165/2019/R/ com and resolution 1/2019 – DACU) to update the measure to the regulatory provisions contained in Law 26/2019 (urgent provisions on national income and pensions).