The most significant environmental impacts caused by the company’s operations are related to landscape changes and land use restrictions, nature and biodiversity, energy losses occurring during electricity transmission, possible fuel and oil leaks in exceptional situations and the consumption of natural resources when constructing and maintaining the grid.
Environmental management was developed during the year by certifying the environmental management system concerning the operation of the reserve power plants according to ISO 14 001. Contractors and service suppliers were encouraged to commit themselves to environmentally responsible operating practices with the help of contractual terms related to environmental matters, environmental training and audits. Environmental aspects were monitored as part of work site monitoring. Compliance with environmental requirements, occupational safety and contractor obligations was verified in a total of 13 audits. In addition, two full safety audits were carried out at reserve power plants.
Fingrid’s environmental goals include completing grid investment projects and maintenance without any environmental deviations. Several development projects were carried out to improve chemical safety at substations and reserve power plants. Following the completion of the Huutokoski reserve power plant upgrading project, the plant’s environmental safety also improved. One significant environmental deviation occurred in the company’s operations during the year, however, when a hydraulic oil leak of roughly 120 litres occurred at a power line work site in an accident involving work machinery. The deviation did not have a significant environmental or financial impact.
Fingrid actively participates in land-use planning to ensure safety and land-use reservations for the grid. In 2017, Fingrid issued around 260 statements on land-use plans and EIAs. In addition, the company directed the construction taking place near grid installations by issuing statements containing safety guidelines and land use restrictions. Some 510 such statements were issued.
EIAs were carried out for four power line projects during the year under review. The environmental impact assessments for the Pyhänselkä-Keminmaa and Pyhänselkä-Nuojua power lines were started in accordance with the reformed EIA legislation. An environmental assessment was carried out on two power line projects (Imatra-Huutokoski and Kittilänjärvi-Taivalkoski). The Finnish Association for Impact Assessment granted the company their annual award for good EIA activities for the environmental assessment procedure carried out on the power lines required by the Hanhikivi 1 nuclear power plant.
In order to be able to build, operate and maintain a transmission line, Fingrid redeems a right of use to the transmission line area. A redemption decision was received for the Hikiä-Orimattila power lines. In addition to statutory communication, a total of over 10,000 letters were sent to landowners, concerning, among other things, environmental impact assessments, power line construction and handling vegetation in power line areas.
The service providers who carry out maintenance work and trim vegetation along power line right-of-ways are instructed to take landowners and environmental matters into account. During the year under review, Fingrid promoted the utilisation of power line areas for the benefit of nature and people by publishing idea cards targeted at landowners and offering financial support for the management of heritage landscapes. The company also informed municipalities of the opportunities offered by land-use planning to promote the sustainable use of power line areas.
Fingrid’s reserve power plants are subject to an environmental permit and covered by the EU’s emissions trading scheme. The accuracy of the measuring and reporting systems for fuel consumption is verified by an accredited emissions trading verifier. A total of 5,817 (10,335) units (tCO2) of emission allowances were returned, 10 per cent of which consisted of purchased and 90 per cent of acquired emission rights units. Fingrid has not been granted free-of-charge emission rights for the emissions trade period 2013–2020. Purchased emission rights units amounted to 4,150 in 2017. Emissions trading had minor financial significance for Fingrid.