2019 was a year of transitioning together at Stedin Group. Shifting between the interests of different stakeholders, smart switching from the role of operator to that of partner in the energy transition, from gas to new sources of thermal energy and from technology as our starting point to the customer/partner as our guiding principle. There was also a tension between investing in the energy transition and ensuring our continued financial health. Where a failure occurred, we were flexible enough to take whatever action was necessary to achieve the desired situation.

Concerted action stands for change, for listening to our customers and environment, as well as for our capacity of adapting to the needs and wishes of parties in our environment. We prefer to do so in coordination with our customers, partners and other stakeholders. The annual report discusses all these developments. We talk about how we have reinforced our role in the energy transition, the positive impact that Stedin has on society and the negative impact that we want to limit.

In 2019, we made progress on increasing the tangible substance of our mission, vision and strategy. A leading example is the sale of Joulz to British investment company 3i Infrastructure in May. This sale is in line with our strategy of focusing on our core tasks and was also in keeping with our goal of remaining financially healthy. The sale enabled us to strengthen our balance sheet. While the jobs of 150 employees have been secured, Joulz now has a robust and powerful owner.

2019 also saw a further increase in efficiency and customer focus. Business pragmatism in the organisation is increasing in the positive sense of the word: we manage for results and endeavour to improve our performance. We are doing more and better work with fewer people. The integration with DNWG is progressing well and we are intensifying our cooperation with water companies. Coordinating our activities with water companies means that we only need to dig once and allows us to save costs.

The Climate Agreement was also signed this year. With increased sustainable energy generation already having consequences for the energy grid, grid managers had measures included in the Agreement which enable them to anticipate developments. Grid managers want to be capable of reinforcing and increasing the capacity of the electricity grid in good time as well as making smarter use of the existing grid. There is a lot of work still to do and we will need to invest substantially in the coming years to achieve our goals, while we face reduced revenue growth at the same time. In addition, a raft of issues still need to be clarified, particularly in the field of laws and regulations. Despite the challenges, we are doing everything possible to facilitate the energy transition.

The low point of the year for Stedin was the gas explosion in The Hague. The shock of that Sunday in January continues to resonate among many people. At such a times, though, Stedin's strength also comes to the fore. We are often invisible as a company, which is how it should be. In a crisis situation, however, everyone is ready and willing to help – whatever the time of day.

All these examples point to coordinated, concerted action. We believe in working together. In fact, we are convinced that we can only meet the task which we face through concerted effort, together with our customers, our shareholders, our partners and of course our employees.

Climate change will remain a major driver for the energy transition, and Stedin's role in it, over 2020. We are embracing technical and innovative possibilities, and focusing on our customers. While it will be demanding for all of us to implement the major changes, we are convinced that it can be done. The main thing is that we do so together.

Board of Management

Marc van der Linden
Danny Benima
Judith Koole
David Peters

At the time of publication of this 2019 Annual Report, far-reaching measures are taken in the fight against the coronavirus.

The energy infrastructure is vital to our society. In this situation, too, we are taking all necessary measures to ensure our electricity and gas grid remains as reliable as ever. You can read more about the impact of the corona crisis in the chapter Subsequent events.