This year marks the centenary of Acea’s foundation. The former municipalised utility, first owned by the Comune di Roma, has provided water services and lighting in the Italian capital ever since. By Giancarlo Cremonesi
Over its first one hundred years in business, Acea has inevitably been influenced by the march of Italian history, starting from the first public lighting services for the streets of Prati – a district close to the Vatican City – to the assignment of responsibility, under the fascist regime, for the city’s water supplies.
Acea makes no secret of its pride in the fact that its most important activities include management of Rome’s famous monumental fountains (the Trevi Fountain is just one that comes to mind). Over the years, and during the economic boom of the 1960s, Acea’s growth continued at a sustained pace.
This is despite the fact that it began to encounter its first significant challenges during this period, following the creation of what would become the nation’s energy giant, Enel. This was accompanied by nationalisation of electricity generation and distribution.
Acea, however, remained in step with the city’s urban and socio-economic development. With its 10,000km of aqueducts, abstraction equipment and pipelines, the Rome-based Company is Italy’s leading water company, meeting the needs of over 8,000,000 people, equal to approximately 14 percent of the Italian market. It manages the entire water cycle in Rome and other areas in Lazio, whilst also providing water services in the regions of Tuscany, Umbria and Campania, where it serves the province of Naples.
Since the 1990s Acea has also expanded overseas, where it is now present in Latin American countries such as Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Colombia and Peru.
Acea is able to guarantee the quality of the water it supplies thanks to the expertise developed by a Group company, LaboratoRi, which was created in partnership with a leading British research centre: the WRC (Water Research Centre). LaboratoRi carries out periodic tests – almost one million a year – to be able to guarantee the excellence of the water supplied.
With regard to the sewerage network and the water treatment system, Acea Ato2 (which serves Central Lazio and Roma) manages approximately 5,650 km of network, with around 3,850 km serving municipalities outside Rome. This network collects and transports waste water from approximately 3.6 million people to treatment plants.
In the energy sector, on the other hand, Acea is Italy’s number two electricity distributor. In 2008 the energy injected into the network was 12,012.6GWh. Its main market is once again the capital city, where it manages an electricity distribution network of 28,200km and operates over 180,000 street lamps, lighting the city’s squares and roads. Over the decades Acea has developed expertise in the design, implementation and installation of artistic lighting systems. The many world-famous historical and artistic sites and monuments “lit up” by the Company include the Basilica of Saint Peter’s, the Coliseum, the Roman Forum and Villa Adriana.
Finally, 2002 saw the birth of the joint venture, AceaElectrabel, resulting from an agreement between Acea and the Belgian company, Electrabel, one of Europe’s leading electricity companies. The joint venture led to the establishment of three new companies for electricity generation, the market sale of electricity and gas and trading in other fuels. AceaElectrabel immediately concluded national agreements, responding successfully to the challenges presented by liberalisation of the energy market, thanks to significant market shares in Tuscany, Umbria, Lombardy, Piedmont and Puglia.
In recent years the Rome-based utility has begun developing and building renewable energy plants. Acea currently produces more than 4.5 million kWh of solar energy a year from plants located in the Rome area. By 2012, the Company expects solar production to reach 30MW. Finally, Acea also produces 200MW of electricity from wind farms situated in southern Italy, in an area straddling the Molise and Campania regions. Acea operates in the Waste to Energy sector with two plants producing energy from refuse-derived fuel (RDF). During 2007 and 2008 the plants produced a total of approximately 320,000MW of energy.