If you are a small and local company, your keys to success are good service and cooperation. Naantalin Energia builds power production capacity for its customers in cooperation with other energy companies.

After the previous municipal elections, Matti Rantanen from Naantali found himself in a great situation – he got to choose a position of trust according to his liking. As he felt naturally interested in the field of energy, he ended up assuming the chair of the board of Naantalin Energia Oy as well as membership of the boards of Katternö Kraft Oy and Katternö Kärnkraft Oy. A lot has happened since Rantanen took over his post in 2013.

According to Rantanen, Naantalin Energia is built on three cornerstones: energy sales, energy transmission, and procurement of own power production capacity. The company has indeed procured shares in the production of various forms of energy. It produces wind power in locations such as the wind power parks owned by Katternö. As the company is a small actor and building its own production plants is not a feasible option, cooperative projects present a natural way of procuring energy for its customers.

The state of the energy market was a surprise

The thing that surprised Rantanen the most was the current state of the energy market. Things are not looking very rosy for the energy companies.

- The current market rates make profitable production of energy difficult, and due to this, new, market-based investments on electricity production, in particular, are being postponed, says Rantanen.

The success of Naantalin Energia will benefit its owners – that is, every inhabitant of Naantali.

Indeed, the discussion on the Fennovoima project often revolves around the issue of viability. However, according to Matti Rantanen, who is trustful that the project will succeed, the state of the electricity market should be looked at as a whole. The question of profitability does not concern nuclear power alone, but all forms of energy production.

- At the moment, no form of energy production is particularly profitable; even hydropower is struggling in this respect. We cannot continue like this indefinitely. The situation must change, he ponders.

- I trust that when Hanhikivi 1 is started up, it will produce electricity at a competitive price. When people have asked me if Hanhikivi 1 can be profitable in 2050, I have answered by saying that we will have to look into that issue when it becomes current. That is the year when I will retire, says Rantanen, smiling.

Underground networks

Naantalin Energia Oy is owned by the city of Naantali. The company’s main competitive edges are local presence and excellent service.

- We are in a good position in the sense that most of our electric cables are already placed underground, which means that they are less susceptible to faults. As a local energy company, we are able to fix any network faults within a short period of time. In many cases, we have been able to fix the fault before our customers have even noticed any disturbance, says Rantanen with justified pride.

Of course, the future is a subject of some contemplation even in Naantali.

- Fortum recently sold off their electric network because the associated return on investment was not sufficient for a listed company. While the volumes are at a completely different level in Naantali, the rate of return is the same. Any further restrictions on the costs of energy transmission will affect the operations of a number of energy companies.

Energy companies possess wide ranges of expertise

Rantanen has the ability to look at energy issues from the point of view of the company as well as a local politician. He finds the statements speculating about municipalities having to deal with the risks caused by the Fennovoima project quite odd. He warns against confusing the city’s funds with those of the energy company.

- It is incorrect to think that any money invested in Fennovoima would be taken away from, say, education or social services. That is the energy company’s money, not the city’s money. If there were no Hanhikivi 1 project, Naantalin Energia would invest the money in some other shares of production. Unfortunately, no form of energy production is currently profitable on market terms, says Rantanen.

- However, I am happy that the project exists, as I see that it will have a significant role in the future. The word ‘nuclear’ may cause concern in some people; personally, I find the word ‘coal’ of much more concern.

Decisions are the product of careful preparation

In municipal councils, decision-making is typically preceded by careful preparatory work carried out by civil servants. In Fennovoima’s case, this preparatory work was carried out by professionals in the field of energy, with help from a wide range of experts.

- We have a competent corps of civil servants preparing our proposals. Personally, I trust the civil servants and the managements of city-owned companies to primarily defend the interests of the company and the municipality. Politicians make decisions on the basis of the information they get. You cannot excuse yourself afterwards by saying that you did not know what was being decided. It is really all about how well you acquaint yourself with things, says Rantanen.

Ultimately, the success of Naantalin Energia will benefit its owners – that is, every inhabitant of Naantali. And the famous Naantali sun, you ask? It, too, has been harnessed. The customers of the company can use solar panels to produce electricity for themselves and sell and transmit any surplus to Naantalin Energia’s network. Furthermore, the company has a solar power plant of its own, located on the roof of the company facilities in Karvetti.