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ORES gets €550m EIB loan to optimize Belgian power and gas distribution

EBR Staff Writer Published 09 March 2018

ORES, a Belgian utility has secured a loan of €550m from the European Investment Bank (EIB) to optimize its electricity and gas distribution networks in the Walloon Region in southern Belgium.

The loan was granted by EIB in line with its priority policy to provide financial backing to climate action and safe, efficient energy networks.

Every year, ORES puts in an average of about €250m in the 198 municipalities it serves in Walloon.

The company plans to invest over €1.15bn in the 2018-2022 period for maintenance, upgrades and development of its electricity and natural gas distribution networks.

The EIB loan will cover almost half of the utility’s investment requirements over the next five years.

ORES managing director Fernand Grifnée said: “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."

ORES plans to allocate 25% of the investment on renewable power grid connections, construction of low-energy buildings like its new headquarters to be built in Gosselies, and also on systems to help in cutting down electricity network losses.

The EIB loan is expected to help the company to continue adapting and developing its power distribution infrastructure by incorporating new regulation and remote control tools while ensuring improved security of supply.

According to the organization, the loan will help in funding ORES’s works for the interconnection, enhancement and completion of natural gas networks.

EIB director general Jean-Christophe Laloux said: “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."

ORES, which provides electricity and gas to over 1.3 million homes and businesses in Walloon, will draw the EIB funds over a period of five years and will pay them back at a fixed or floating interest rate within 20 years.

Image: Signing of the loan documents by EIB and ORES officials. Photo: courtesy of European Investment Bank.