Comparative analysis of sustainability performance

With the conviction that the comparison of the environmental, social and governance performance also concerns its stakeholders, in addition to the actual company, certain comparisons between Terna's results and those of other companies are included in the 2012 Sustainability Report, as they were in the preceding two years. The comparisons involve seven indicators in 2012, as they did in 2011: water consumption, CO2 emissions, SF6 leaks, waste, training, pay difference by gender and turnover rate. The selection of the indicators followed both a criterion of internal interest in the identification of benchmarks, and verification of the quantity of data actually available for the comparison.

Listed below are the main criteria adopted for the analysis, as a premise for the reading and interpretation of the comparisons of the individual indicators in the Report:

  • three panels of companies were identified: an industry one, composed of the European transmission companies (Transmission System Operator) and the major extra-European ones by kilometres of lines managed; and two multi-industry ones, the first relative to large Italian companies (the 40 companies of the FTSE-MIB at 17 September January 2012) and the second relative to Best International Performers (the 19 World Supersector Leaders identified by the RobecoSAM - Sustainable Asset Management sustainability rating agency, in the publication RobecoSAM Sustainability Yearbook 2012). The purpose of the three panels is to guarantee, also relative to the type of indicator reviewed, a comparison between companies with the same operational characteristics, a comparison with Italian companies and one with the top international performers.
    The Terna figures were not used in the calculation of the RobecoSAM - Supersector Leaders panel average, but are shown in the graphs;
  • among the companies in these three panels, the ones taken into consideration were those which make information public necessary for the comparisons on the site through the Sustainability Report (even if it was not prepared following the GRI guidelines) or through other documentation (HSE Report, financial report, etc.). This led to a reduction in the sample compared to the starting panel, as explained in the following table;
  • the number of useful cases for comparison of each indicator in these three samples is often less than the number of companies which publish information on sustainability performance. This is first due to the lack of availability of the indicator in the Sustainability Report of certain companies, but often also due to the use - by the sample companies - of different definitions or units of measurement which therefore cannot be compared. Our selection was based on favouring the definition to which the greatest number of useful responses of the three panels overall corresponded, provided it was compatible with the instructions in the GRI protocols. In some cases, we excluded data which was contradictory to other data published in the same Report, while in some cases it was possible to reconstruct, based on other data published, an indicator coherent with the definition adopted, even if not published. The details relative to these aspects are explained in the comments to the data regarding the individual indicators in the Report;
  • the use of published Sustainability Reports entails reference to the 2011 data since the comparisons were prepared when the 2012 Reports were still being prepared, like Terna's.

It must be pointed out that, despite the exclusion of data which was explicitly not homogeneous, in numerous cases doubts linger regarding actual comparability between companies, especially when average and better performances are viewed from a distance. In fact, it is probable that significant deviations depend on different application criteria - not explained - of the GRI protocols rather than on particularly virtuous corporate behaviours.

Some of the indicators considered (water consumption, waste produced, CO2 emissions) are expressed as physical quantities in absolute value and therefore show very different levels depending on the type of production activity and size of the company. In these cases, the comparison provides information on the different significance of the environmental aspects being considered for the individual companies, but does not fulfil the task of making the performance comparable. The subject of comparability, certainly an issue that is central to sustainability reporting, is the subject of a research project conducted by the CSR Manager Network, with scientific support from Altis - Catholic University of Milan and the National Statistical Office (ISTAT), as well as support from Terna, through direct participation in analysis of the data. The study “Beyond the financial figure: companies and collective well-being”, drafted by CSR Manager Network and ISTAT and available on their respective web sites ( and, includes in the appendix the note “Comparing performances of sustainability: the Terna experience” which illustrates the methodology used by Terna for the comparisons published in this report.

TSO Panel FTSE-MIB Panel RobecoSAM Panel - Supersector Leaders
Companies considered (n) 55 40 19
Companies with GRI reports (n) 18 24 18
Companies with useful data (n) 22 29 19

Application Level

Based on the information presented in the GRI Content Index, the application of the “Sustainability Reporting Guidelines & Electric Utility Sector Supplement” established in 2009 by the GRI - Global Reporting Initiative is considered to have achieved the A+ level.