>@arthurs-h - ORES
©arthurs-h - ORES

- Nearly 50% of ORES's investments to transform and upgrade its distribution networks are covered for the next five years
- A quarter of the amounts allocated for environmentally-friendly projects
- Energy transition and sustainable development are common goals of the Belgian distribution network manager and the EU bank

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has granted ORES a EUR 550m loan as part of its priority policy to support climate action and safe, efficient energy networks. The finance agreement was signed formally this morning in Namur in the presence of the Walloon Region's Energy Minister, Mr Jean-Luc Crucke. ORES is the first distribution network manager in Belgium to receive such financing.

Each year, ORES invests on average some EUR 250m in the region covered by the company (198 Walloon municipalities). Over the period 2018-2022, no less than EUR 1.15bn will be invested in the maintenance, upgrading and development of electricity and natural gas distribution networks. The EIB loan will cover nearly half of the company’s investment needs over the next five years.

A quarter of the amounts allocated will be for environmentally-friendly investment projects: renewable energy grid connections, construction of low-energy buildings such as the company’s future headquarters in Gosselies, and investment in systems to help reduce electricity network losses. Against the backdrop of energy transition and in keeping with the dynamic of sustainable development, this loan will enable ORES to continue adapting and developing its electricity distribution infrastructure by equipping it with new regulation and remote control tools whilst ensuring even greater security of supply. The loan will contribute, in particular, to the financing of works for the interconnection, improvement and completion of natural gas networks. Thanks to the project's knock-on effect in terms of business activity and jobs, the EIB loan will benefit the Walloon Region's economy.

Granted on favourable terms and with a long maturity thanks to the European institution's AAA rating, this is a valuable loan for the Walloon distributor. The funds will be drawn down by ORES over a period of five years and paid back at a fixed or floating interest rate over a maximum of 20 years.

Jean-Christophe Laloux, Director General of the EIB, said at the signing ceremony: “This important financing operation – the first of its kind in Belgium – demonstrates our commitment to strategic investment in the country in support of the EU's top priorities, particularly when they are for the good of our planet. Safe, efficient energy networks adapted to the growth of renewable energy and new consumption trends will form the cornerstone of energy transition, which is essential in the fight against climate change."

Fernand Grifnée, Managing Director of ORES, stated: “This loan represents a fantastic display of confidence in our company by the EU’s financing institution. In granting us this loan, the EIB acknowledges ORES's financial strength, the relevance of its business model, the calibre of its governance and its corporate vision. We are fully mobilised in support of energy transition and in response to our customers’ new expectations."

Cyprien Devilers, Chairman of ORES, said: “ORES is a local public service provider that has chosen a model centred on its core business lines. This loan will enable us to strengthen further, continue to prepare our future, invest in our networks and provide our services efficiently for the benefit of our Walloon customers and municipal shareholders."