Jana Zöller will lead EVN into the digital future (Photo: oas)
A tall, slender woman enters the small, bright consultation room, and one can immediately see that sport plays an important role in her life. “Yes,” she confirms when asked, “I was an active competitive athlete at SC Chemie Halle as an athlete specializing in jumping disciplines.” Jana Zöller is now head of the athletes’ department at SV “Glück auf” in Sondershausen, where she trains young athletes twice a week. This is just as important to her as a balance at work, such as individual training in the gym, roller skating, motorcycling and reading good books, says the educated industrial clerk who was born in Artern. Shortly after completing her vocational education, she came to the United States through a scholarship program, where she completed various courses and learned the language. The young woman then worked in an IT company for three years before moving back to the Kyffhäuser district of Sondershausen in 1996, where she took over responsibility for the next twenty years as commercial manager of the public utility company. From there, she went to “Ohra Energie” in western Thuringia, a regional service provider for gas and electricity, from where she applied for the management position at Nordhausen when the then CEO wanted to retire.
Since 1 January, the mother of two has been responsible for the 96 employees of Energieversorgung Nordhausen (EVN) with the subsidiaries Nordhausen Netz GmbH and Biomethan GmbH. The energy company, which until then has always been led by two men as technical and commercial directors, has now got a female leader, who in turn refers to three signatories. “We had already completed joint projects with EVN from Sondershausen, so I knew some of my colleagues and the company’s relationships,” she says in an interview. “I took over a rock-solid company, and only the introductory period was short.” Now she hopes that with the personal input she can bring, she will succeed in making EVN suitable for the future in difficult times. The rapid use of renewable energy is particularly important to her, but she also wants to take the relationship with local and regional institutions and businesses to a new level. “We need to rethink our customers, partners and competitors,” she says, outlining her goals. “It is about intensively binding our employees to the company, realizing a close collaboration with Nordhäuser University of Applied Sciences and, above all, increasingly acting as a service provider and not as a given supplier. I would like to offer customers bundled packages, they must have many offers from us that are advantageous and unbureaucratic, and I will continue to drive digitalisation in operations. ”
Jana Zöller is increasingly focusing on the growing customer base, which must have convincing online offers. “We are currently working on this and want to launch a similar portal next year,” she reveals, promising the financial benefits involved as an incentive if they use digital customer relationships accordingly. EVN’s CEO proudly refers to the high education rate of 21 percent in her workforce. She needs all these well-educated young people for future digital business transactions. Like the students at Nordhausen University of Applied Sciences and other educational institutions who can master the challenges of energy conversion with fresh, innovative ideas. “We already have very green electricity from our two combined heat and power plants, which are operated with biomethane. The third will also be fed with biomethane from next year, so that already this year we will reach the climate goals set for 2030. ”
Other solar cell projects are also awaiting, such as on the roof of the new fire station, in the Ossietzky-Hof in the municipal housing association or in three kindergartens in the urban area. Three schools are already planning to equip their roofs with solar panels. If municipal facilities and administration buildings are added, Jana Zöller hopes to be able to make the energy supply even more independent of the price speculations that are common in the market. These are currently driving energy prices to staggering heights and Jana Zöller realistically assesses that there is still no end in sight to the price increases. The good news, though, is that EVN’s prices will remain stable this year because there have previously been procurement strategies to meet demand for 2022. “Public utilities have the advantage of being able to plan and buy in the long run,” she explains to us and advises all customers to trust these companies in such turbulent times and not to switch to cheap providers looking for the cheapest offer at short notice and in the worst case, their contracts can no longer meet with the customers in case of large price fluctuations or even go bankruptcy.
Nordhäuser EVN also received 360 customers who suddenly could no longer be supplied by their low-cost suppliers. Unlike other municipal utilities, however, these new customers did not have to pay the high price for the replacement supply, but can buy their electricity at the same basic price as long-standing customers. “Such conservative shopping as we do provides security for customers, even though our price is one cent higher than that of the cheap suppliers,” Jana Zöller announces after a contract with EVN.
As a regional company with municipal participation, EVN continues to support the financing of the Nordhausen transport company and the bathhouse. “It also has the advantage that we have to pay less tax through such compensation,” she calculates. The energy supplier will of course continue to provide financial support specifically for the regional youth work in sports associations and culture as well as promote educational opportunities. However, what will be the last time this year under CEO Jana Zöller is a big EVN party at Petersberg with VIP tents and appetizers. “In light of the dramatic price development, this can no longer be communicated to customers,” she says, “from next year we will organize several smaller events targeted and forgo such a large event.”
In 2022, however, the date is already on the calendar for Saturday, August 27, also because the already concluded artist contracts from the canceled EVN parties in 2020 and 2021 still have to be fulfilled. The festival at Petersberg will be shared with the city of Nordhausen, which has deliberately set its candle party on this day. Jana Zöller and Mayor Alexandra Rieger are currently discussing the details and how clubs and associations can be involved in the event. The EVN boss would rather do something for the people and with the committed club representatives, for example, continue to participate in the electric bike festival, bike day or similar events. “More customer proximity” is her motto, and she would like to emphasize the service aspect more clearly again. Jana Zöller describes the communication with city partners, business representatives and housing providers as really good. Now it is increasingly important to win back the customers who have been lost in recent years. “We will consistently focus on the regional and consider which providers will provide the appropriate services to us and which partners are the right ones. EVN must be perceived as an innovative company that is dependent on modern complete solutions and digitalisation. In electromobility as well as in heating or as an electricity supplier. ”
Your employees are happy with the dynamism that radiates from the boss, and the campaigns, such as the distribution of Easter bunnies to all kindergarten children, are very well received by old and perhaps also new customers at Energieversorgung Nordhausen. Jana Zöller still has a lot planned for the medium term and will draw attention to her business with one or the other futuristic project in the near future. Currently, a refreshing, innovative breeze is blowing through the offices of Cooperative Street. It is good and hopefully lasts a long time. It is a pity that it can not be converted into power by a wind turbine. But even as an energy supply company, you can not get everything.