Transferring the vehicle fleet from Eesti Energia subsidiary Enefit Connect to grid systems operator Elektrilevi will cost an estimated €30,000, just a few years after the vans and cars moved in the opposite direction.
Close to 700 staff were several years ago transferred from Elektrilevi to Eesti Energia subsidiary Enefit Connect, and continued to provide the Transmissions Systems Operator (TSO) service which Elektrilevi had done. Meanwhile Elektrilevi maintained a skeleton staff of around 30.
Several major autumn and winter storms in recent years, including one which hit Saaremaa in December 2022, revealed apparent shortcomings in the new set-up, and prompted the government to call for the Enefit Connect staff to be transferred back to Elektrilevi.
Meanwhile, the Enefit Connect fleet of vehicles will need re-branding in Elektrilevi colors, not the least due to issues of public confidence.
Eesti Energia, the state-owned electricity generator, recently announced a public procurement round for the application of logos and branding, primarily via decals to be applied to its fleet of vehicles, to the tune of €350,000 for a three-year period.
The company/ies to win the tender will have as one of their first tasks replacing Enefit Connect green branding and locos, with those of Elektrilevi's blue color scheme.
This will only make up a small proportion of the total vehicle branding work, however.
Eesti Energia's marketing and communications chief Reimo Raja said: "Since the results of the procurement are not yet known, we cannot yet say what the final sum will be."
"However since a few hundred vehicles have to be changed, the cost may come to around €30,000," he went on, referring to the Elektrilevi rebrand making up less than 10 percent of the estimated total.
ERR reports that the work also involves newly acquired fleet vehicles as well as those whose decals get damaged for whatever reason; while there will be more blue Elektrilevi-branded vehicles, the green of Eesti Energia and its subsidiaries will be predominant.
At the same time, he company does not intend to utilize the full procurement cost come what may, Raja added, and it is "important for us to have a partner who will help us with certain work when the need arises," he said.
With the announcement in September that nearly 700 staff moved from Elektrilevi to Eesti Energia's Enefit Connect were being returned to Elektrilevi after the desired synergies had not materialized, this meant the vehicle fleet also moved would have to be transferred back, hence the re-rebranding [sic].
The change affects around 200 vehicles, with work to begin soon after the procurement is announced, though it may not be finished by the new year.
Raja made the point that when members of the public, anywhere in the country, see a team engaged in vital electricity grid work, it is important that they can be confident that it is the right people tasked with the job – meaning the elektrilevi logos must be visible.
Indeed, in the past, the company has received calls from suspicious members of the public who had seen vehicles marked in any other livery attending the scene.
From late 2021, Dacia vehicles started to bear the green Enefit Connect branding and slogan – "Energia igasse pesasse" ("Energy to every nest") – replacing Elektrilevi's familiar blue lighting bold.
Storms that hit Estonia last winter, particularly on the island of Saaremaa, showed up supposed shortcomings in the current Elektrilevi set-up, reduced to 30 staff after around 670 were transferred to Enefit Connect, and attracted criticism from Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform), who said at a press conference in early 2023: "The problem on Saaremaa was that there were no people, no resources."
"They had all been taken away, which led to the government making a decision in the summer that Eesti Energia cannot work like this," adding that Elektrilevi should not have been stripped of its personnel to the extent that it could no longer fulfill its obligations adequately.
More recently, the prime minister said that the speed of repairing storm-induced electricity connection damages should get better after Eesti Energia transfers the employees back to Elektrilevi.
In September, Elektrilevi announced that from the beginning of 2024, the company's structure will once again comprise all activities relating to the management and administration of the electricity network and its customer service, i.e., the services that were rerouted to Enefit Connect a few years ago.
The prime minister also said that the next step after transferring the employees back to Elektrilevi should be the splitting off it of Elektrilevi from Eesti Energia.
The coalition agreement also calls for the separation of these two companies.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Urmet Kook
Source: ERR radio news, reporter Madis Hindre.