The “water leak fund”
In July 2014, Hera S.p.A defined a joint regulation across all the areas it serves that sets up a “leak fund” to protect customers in the event of water leaks in their plumbing system, i.e. downstream from the meter. This voluntary instrument partially covers bills of even very high amounts that are due to accidental and unknown leaks within a customer’s own plumbing system. By paying Euro 15 per year in their bill, participating customers can receive, for hidden water leaks within their system, a reimbursement for the entire amount for the volumes that exceed their usual average consumption by 80%, up to a maximum of Euro 10,000.
Participation in the fund is not compulsory and customers may withdraw at any time by simply asking to do so.
The “leak fund” is exclusively designed to cover the additional costs incurred by customers that have a water leak.
|Funds disbursed (thousands of Euro)||14,990||17,636||17,406|
|Number of customers that have benefitted from the fund||10,902||12,539||12,146|
|Average reimbursement (Euro)||1,375||1,407||1,433|
The fund’s balance at 31 December 2018 is negative, at about Euro -1,340 thousand, (including interest income for previous fiscal years). The balance, relating to 2018 alone, is negative by Euro 1,801 thousand. During 2018, the effect of the increase in the number of leaks downstream of meters, which became significant from the summer of 2017, continued and affected the entire current year. This led to a significant reduction in the fund, which for the first time since its creation, entered into negative area. In view of this situation, and taking into account that the fund regulations allow updating the membership fees after verification of its size, during 2018 we examined options to reduce the balance of the fund following the significant increase in the number of redemption requests. As of 1 January 2019, a new method for charging the membership fee was implemented, which will consist of a fixed fee of Euro 10 per year per contract and a variable fee of Euro 5 per year per property unit served.
Since the fund is exclusively designed to benefit its participating customers, and since the monthly balances were almost negative in 2018, no interest was calculated. Since its inception, the fund has reimbursed around 52 thousand users, 12,146 of which in 2018, for an average reimbursement of Euro 1,433. Less than 4% of customers is not covered by the “Leak fund”. In 2018, we received just over 1,000 requests for withdrawal from the fund.
Per capita tariff rewards water savings and helps large households
In its resolution 665/2017 of 28 September 2017 ARERA introduced the per capita tariff for all resident domestic users, to be gradually applied in all municipalities starting in 2018 and to be completed by 2022. In fact, a transitional period has been set, during which the Water Service Operator, lacking information on the actual number of components, can invoice according to a standard criterion (i.e. considering a typical three-member resident domestic household user).
Per capita tariff facilitates large households because the water consumption charged a lower rate (the price of the reduced rate is 50% of the basic rate) is proportional to the number of members of the household. As per capita consumption increases, the cost increases very significantly, so this mechanism rewards households that consume less.
In the provinces of Bologna and Modena and in the Municipality of Faenza (79 municipalities in total), Hera already applies per capita tariff to resident households based on the actual number of members. In all the other areas managed, the standard per capita tariff will be applied and gradually the real composition of the household will be used, without prejudice to the possibility for the user to provide a self-declaration.
In 2018, 16 municipalities in Triveneto (Abano Terme, Arzergrande, Brugine, Codevigo, Correzzola, Legnaro, Padova, Piove di Sacco, Polverara, Pontelongo, Sant’Angelo di Piove di Sacco, Cona, Trieste, Muggia, San Dorligo and Duino Aurisina) also shifted to per capita tariff.
When environmental and social sustainability go hand-in-hand
Hera continues to be committed to initiatives dedicated to the support and social inclusion of people in difficulty and in disadvantaged conditions, through the following initiatives that have proven to be effective.
The “RAEEbilitando” project, initiated in 2010 with the collaboration with the Consorzio Remedia, the Opera dell’Immacolata Onlus (OPIMM) and Tred Carpi Srl, continued its activity until 30 June 2018, when the protocol expired. The partners then agreed to terminate the activity, which had been carried out in the Laboratory of Bologna, to allow OPIMM to plan and implement a set of measures to restructure the premises and to reorganize the logistical management of the spaces used for the various activities carried out within the Laboratory. The intention, however, is to be able to resume operation of the project from July 2020. In all these years of activity, children and adults in disadvantaged conditions have worked in the laboratory providing their energy and their commitment to disassemble 132,000 kilograms of small electrical and electronic equipment into about 20 smaller categories of parts, thus ensuring for each of them the most appropriate type of recovery or recycling.
The “Manolibera” project, active since 2011, in collaboration with the Forlì Prison and the Techne Training Institute, involves operating, within the penitentiary, a quality artisan paper mill that produces, using an ancient Arab-Chinese processing technique, paper products of high artistic and ecological value. Coop. Sociale Onlus CILS of Cesena is responsible for monitoring and verifying the activities carried out in this laboratory, which are reported regularly. The Berti Bindery is responsible for commercial and marketing management and over the past year it has participated in trade fairs and events and for “wedding planning”, in constant search for new marketing and collaboration channels. Relations with the national prison economy network “Freedhome” have also been consolidated. In 2018, 4 prisoners were involved in the laboratory and our partners are considering the implementation of a new funded training program, in which five more people will be able to participate.
The “RAEEincarcere” project was confirmed in 2018 for a further three years. This project, that started more than a decade ago at the Prisons of Forlì, Ferrara and Bologna, was developed starting from a study and joint collaboration between Hera and the Techne Training Institute. These partners were joined by the Emilia-Romagna Regional Government and many other Bodies, such as the Ecolight Recovery Consortium, and local organizations. By doing so the objective of the project, namely the social and working inclusion of men and women who are paying for crimes or detained, has been guaranteed for all these years, allowing them to return to legality and the civil life of the community. Within the 3 Prisons there are still active laboratories where prisoners alternate training and further education activities, acquiring all the skills and knowledge necessary to disassemble small and large waste electrical and electronic equipment from the Waste Collection Centers managed by Hera. A range of components are obtained from this activity and are separately sent to suitable plants for recovery of material. The results obtained by the labs continue to increase. On the social front, 34 former prisoners were hired or helped to find jobs in local companies and more than 101 attended training courses thanks to the collaboration and commitment of the social cooperatives that coordinate and manage the laboratories. From an environmental point of view, in a decade of activity the laboratories treated about 4,915,000 kg of waste electrical and electronic equipment.
In 2018, we laid the foundations for two more years of the collaboration called “Informatica Solidale”, a joint project of Hera and the Techne Training Institute, designed to promote computer literacy and to reintegrate people with disabilities into the world of work and social life, with the further objective of promoting the reuse of assets with residual use potential.
Under the Project, Hera will give away free of charge its own IT equipment (no longer suitable for its own business and therefore to be disposed of disposal but perfectly able to satisfy the basic needs of users such as those identified and protected by the Project) and Techne will take care of the functional updating and testing, the identification of the recipients and the management of the deliveries. The recipients of such “regenerated” IT equipment have been identified mainly among institutional, public and private local organizations, whose vocation is to support the inclusion and integration of disadvantaged people through services and initiatives (educational, training, empowerment) that can find real benefit and strengthening from the availability of appropriate technological tools. In this context, the donated equipment made it possible to set up of computer labs at schools, cooperatives/social enterprises and social promotion associations, prisons and education centres for adults at risk of “social exclusion”. In 2018, 100 computers were decommissioned and made available to local associations and at the end of the year the process of allocation and delivery of a further batch of equipment was started, which will be completed in the early months of 2019. The new edition of the project, which we strongly desire, based on the results and the interest obtained by the past edition management, will extend the local catchment area, extending it to beneficiaries in all the provinces where Hera is present as a service provider. The “Informatica Solidale” project will once again contribute to social support and environmental protection.