The Alpine region is the central energy store for the major consumption centres and plays a prominent role in the European energy system. Decentralised supply structures have a long tradition here. The South Tyrolean energy sector also has a broad, stable foundation that can use and bear many different building blocks, such as municipal utilities, the pubblic company Alperia, energy co-operatives or small and medium-sized private enterprises.

This is clear in the field of power distribution: in Italy there are 140 distributors, of which 56 are headquartered in South Tyrol. Of these, 20 are co-operatives, five belong to municipalities, ten are organised as GmbH (limited liability companies), six are AG (joint stock companies), three are ordinary partnerships (OHG) and four each are in KG (limited partnership) and Consortium form (2013). SEV has always seen this historically evolved diversity as a locational advantage.

SEL AG (owned by the province of South Tyrol) and Etschwerke AG (AEW), controlled by the municipalities of Bozen and Meran, were the largest players on the South Tyrol energy market. With its 30 subsidiaries, the SEL Group was active in production and distribution (electricity and natural gas). SEL ran four district heating plants in South Tyrol together with local municipalities. In 2013 SEL and its partners ran 35 hydropower plants and supplied electricity to 94,000 customers in South Tyrol.
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In 2013 SEL accounted for 53.3% of the electricity generated and distributed by South Tyrolean producers. This figure shows the extent to which the public sector is involved in a market which is at the same time publicly regulated. The province of South Tyrol holds 93.88% of SEL AG, with 6.12% held by SELFIN GmbH, in which the 102 South Tyrolean municipalities and four South Tyrolean district communities hold a stake.

Etschwerke was South Tyrol’s oldest energy supplier. On 4 March 1897 the municipalities of Bozen and Meran signed the founding treaty of Etschwerke for “the construction and operation of a power plant using water power to be drawn from the River Etsch at Töll above Meran for the purpose of supplying the cities of Bozen and Meran and their surroundings, in particular the municipalities of Zwölfmalgreien and Gries, Obermais, Untermais and Gratsch” .

The balance has markedly shifted on the previously dominated market by Etschwerke and SEL AG following their fusion giving birth to the new local energy provider company, Alperia.  Alperia is market leader today with 41 hydroelectric power plants, four cogeneration plants, and 8,587 km power grids. It employs 1,000 people and provides energy to 225,000 clients making it the undisputed leader on the South Tyrolean energy market.

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