Elektro-Slovenija d.o.o. (ELES) builds and operates the electricity transmission network on which Slovenia’s economy depends. While ELES is 100% state owned, it is regulated by the national regulatory agency and Brussels concerning the quality of its operations and its transparency. Under the management of CEO Milan Jevšenak, who has 30 years of experience in the company, ELES became a member of the European Association of Transmission System Operators (TSOs) even before Slovenia entered the EU. ELES is committed to operating according to the highest EU standards. Lowering prices and boosting efficiency.
Originally a trading company, ELES has been involved only in energy infrastructure building and transmission since 2001 when Slovenia separated energy trading activities from services. While this change significantly reduced ELES’s revenues, it also freed the company from outside influences which were sometimes counter-productive. Now Milan Jevšenak has ambitious goals for ELES. He says, “After all the changes ELES has experienced over the years, I have a clear idea of where I want this company to go. I am working very hard to optimise our current projects and to continue to lower service prices and consecutive energy prices, which we have already reduced by 20% to 30% over the past 18 months alone. In the past we have spent a lot of money but not invested much money, and that is a big difference. We are committed to doing more with our money now, including improving efficiency.”
ELES has around 150 projects in the works. The most important project they are currently working on is to build a new transmission line between the Krsko nuclear power plant and a transformer station Bericevo. The project will be funded in part by a €63 million loan from the European Investment Bank. ELES’s current projects include not only new power lines but also upgrades in information technology infrastructure in order to allow for remote controls of the energy transmission network. “We are creating a very secure and reliable energy transmission infrastructure that reaches all parts of Slovenia,” Milan Jevšenak says.
Another key project for ELES is to install an electricity transmission line connecting Slovenia and Hungary. The project is in the early stages and ELES will need additional financing from banks or investment funds to complete it. ELES is also upgrading its national control centre for energy transmission; the facility is now almost 15 years old and needs new hardware and software as well as changes required by new EU criteria.
Opportunities for partnerships
While the electricity infrastructure ELES installs and operates is 100% state owned, there are opportunities for private companies to work with ELES by providing services. Milan Jevšenak explains, “We procure services from the private sector and we also purchase energy reserves and transmission losses. We are currently in contact with one hundred private companies regarding the provision of services, and we welcome the chance to work with private investors concerning implementing new technologies in Slovenia’s energy sector.”
Milan Jevšenak aims to position ELES as the leader in its field. He says, “Our leadership position has slipped a little and I am determined to get it back. Our technology is at a very high level, and in fact we are one of the most advanced companies in our field in Europe. Our transmission network is connected to neighbouring Italy, Austria and Croatia, and our strong connections mean we can receive energy from all around Europe. We are like an energy reservoir; producers put energy into our system and consumers take it out.”
Given the lengthy amount of time it takes to build new energy infrastructure, especially given bureaucratic tangles, ELES concentrates on developing long-term strategies. As Milan Jevšenak points out, “We need to think about future needs, from electrical cars to new cell phone technologies. Where are we going? Where will we be 20 years from now? We need to think about these things today. Without reliable energy supplies, Slovenia’s economy cannot progress, and economic development will create new energy needs. That is why ELES has many different plans for future projects.”
Focus on implementing latest technologies
ELES is committed to continuing to evolve and adopt the latest technologies. Milan Jevšenak says, “I was discussing SMART grids with a professor from Scotland and he said that we systems operators are dinosaurs. It is true. Electricity has changed greatly since the light bulb was invented but the transmission of electricity has not changed much, since we still use the same transmission material – copper and aluminium – and the same type of insulators. On the other hand, at ELES we are using the most cutting-edge equipment for controlling, following and communicating about transmission flow, and our information technology is the most advanced in the country. My message, therefore, is that we may be a dinosaur, but we are nevertheless young and fast on our feet. We are rapidly implementing new technologies in our very old sector.”