Companies working with Oulun Energia also need to be interested in sustainable choices and responsibility

30.11.2022

Ideally, we would be able to tell you about the business culture and background of every single one of our smallest partners. It's a huge task, of course, but for an energy company that spends around €170 million a year on various procurements, it's a topic that cannot be ignored. Why are we at Oulun Energia also interested in the responsibility of our partners?

Money is power. This is why it’s important to put money into responsibility so that our concrete actions leave behind a better world.

Responsible sourcing in practice for us at Oulun Energia means big themes and balancing responsibilities. Our company’s job is to keep district heat flowing to around 10,000 customers in the region and to provide the area with electricity, but not at the expense of nature, by trampling on human rights or by disregarding safety at work.

Price cannot be the only metric in buying decisions; the key thing is to consider the long-term impacts of procurements and to support the goal of carbon neutrality by 2035. Responsibility requires patience, where steps of all sizes point in the right direction.

Oulun Energia buys services from more than a thousand different-sized suppliers each year and some 200 of these are our most important partners. Procurements include various services and supplies related to the energy business and include fuel, spare parts, advanced IT services, software and contractor services. All procurements are tendered and the largest investments go through a public procedure

Mikko Heikkinen Oulun Energia

Competitive tendering assesses companies’ attitudes to emissions reduction and how they take environmental issues into account as well as the nature of packaging materials and the realisation of employee rights. However, safety at work is the most important criterion on the list since working at a power plant and with electricity also involves fatal risks. Besides statutory safety guidelines, we want to work with our network of suppliers to create a culture of safety to proactively prevent incidents in all circumstances.

At Oulun Energia, we use a supplier management model to monitor and measure the implementation of responsibility. In addition, a national cluster of large industrial companies enables HSEQ (health, security, environment and quality) audits of the responsibility, safety and quality of operations a couple of times a year. The cluster openly shares development considerations and safety obligations proactively. We think that dialogue with individual suppliers is also important.

For example, during this spring Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has highlighted the importance of two-way dialogue, knowing partners, raising responsibility themes and advance planning.

Warning signals enabled Oulun Energia to take the decision to cut off Russian energy relatively easily since by then we were no longer very dependent on Russia for renewable fuels.

Oulun Energia and Tools Oulu sent an aid package to Ukraine during the spring 2022 

Nevertheless, military action has made it more difficult to make other purchases. The delivery times and prices of materials containing copper, aluminium and other metals have multiplied for example. The situation has additionally attracted new actors, who may seek cooperation through fast delivery schedules.

When assessing suppliers, you must remain calm and ensure that ethical and accountability criteria are met, even under pressure. When we know our partners' practices, our own customers can also trust Oulun Energia to act responsibly.