My name is Linda Olofsson, I work as a Permit Manager at Holmen Energy since November 2019 and stationed in Örnsköldsvik. Permit Manager may sound pretty boring, but I hope that in the coming weeks I can show that it is not just about keeping track of legislation, processes and how to apply for a permit, but above all about meeting people, working together and knowing how things works in reality.
At the moment I am blogging for Holmen's employee blog in social media. All posts will be published here.
Holmen Energi is probably the part of Holmen that most people have a little bad knowledge of, that is the way it was for me before I came in contact with the company for the first time. Most people have probably seen that just before Christmas we made a major investment decision. We will build our own wind farm in Blåbergsliden. Wind power is probably the most visible part of Holmen Energi that many know about. Here, there is a lot to do as a Permit Mananger both before construction starts as in Blåbergsliden, but also with new upcoming projects that we are developing. Last week I participated in a "test run" before transporting parts to another wind power plant. It is difficult to understand how big the transport really is, but if a regular timber truck is 24 meters long and the wings are about 70 meters then you can try to imagine. In the picture below there are not two cars in the front, it is actually one and the same. To simulate how much the wing stand out behind the rear of the transport car, a flagpole has been set up in the test transport to make sure that it does not take in any tree or the like. The yellow flag is the top.
Some of you probably also know that Holmen owns and produces hydropower. We wholly or partly stock 21 hydropower stations in the Ume River, Fax River, Gide River, Motala stream, Iggesundsån and Ljusnan. Within the hydroelectric power sector, much will happen in the coming years when all of Sweden's hydroelectric power plants will be retried to obtain new and modern environmental conditions. Here I see that I will learn a lot about the various facilities, the conditions that exist and how we can best carry out these reviews. The picture below is from Motala stream and my first visit to the plants from December.
A third and fourth leg of Holmen Energy that few know exists is that we also work with property development and quarries. I hope to tell you more about it in the upcoming posts.
Today I met with the County Administrative Board in Västerbotten, together with Fredrik Nordqvist and Nisse Ringborg. We talked about Holmen and Holmen Energi , discussed our wind farm Blåbergsliden and other trials. The purpose was to make contact, but also to discuss what we can do to facilitate their trials and what difficulties and challenges they see right now in the types of cases that are relevant to us.
In addition to wind power, we have talked about quarries and how the processing time looks for them in Västerbotten. We also highlighted how important we think it is that the authority and the companies are working together to achieve the best consultation process possible in connection with the upcoming reconsiderations for hydroelectric power plants. Holmen has two hydroelectric power plants in the Ume River that are important for our power generation and therefore the county administrative board in Västerbotten is an important interlocutor.
I managed to get a picture of our delegation from Holmen together with Governor Magdalena Andersson and Deputy Head of the Environmental Unit Joacim Jacobsson in front of the Bullmarks wolf. The Bullmarks wolf was a national celebrity in 2008 and was shot when he attacked a herd of reindeer in April of that year. The radio necklace he wore when he died still sits on the stuffed version of the wolf that is outside the governor's room on the county administrative board.
I think that a good dialogue and communication is very important for different types of projects to flow as smoothly as possible. This applies not only to county administrative boards, but also to municipalities, other authorities and local residents. It was extra fun, however, to meet the County Administrative Board in Västerbotten as I worked there for many years and therefore also took the opportunity to meet some former working friends. How well you thrive in a workplace depends a lot on what colleagues you have and based on the ones I have known since I started at Holmen, I think I will stay here for a long time as both
colleagues and work assignments are very good.
We ended the day with a "speed sightseeing" in Umeå before I drove the gentlemen to the airport for further transport to Stockholm. Speed sightseeing is a new concept for me and, according to Nisse Ringborg, the best way to get to know a city. Best done with a private driver (as I was today) or a taxi and is much better than sitting in a hotel room yourself. In other words, a good tip for anyone who
goes on business trips sometimes
Today I went to the very western parts of the country and visited Holmen's Energy office at Junsterforsen (Junster river) in Gäddede. On the car journey here (took almost five hours) I had the opportunity to attend to a Skype meeting, but mainly listen and learn about hydropower's own control linked to environmental issues. The more I learn, the more complex I realize that it is and what challenges lie ahead for us in the upcoming retrials. I'm really looking forward to the study trip planned with this group later this spring.
During the day I received a presentation of Holmen's facilities in the Faxälven (Fax River) as well as the conditions and problems associated with these plants. In the office I found some old binder with information on trials and measures for fishing that can be valuable to inventory before the retrial.
I took the opportunity to visit Junsterforsen's hydroelectric power station and pond, the power plant building is the white building to the right in the picture. In the machine room there is a really cool model of the Fax River river area where you can light different lamps to see where plants, dams or resorts are located. The two red lamps in the picture are Junsterforsen (top) and Bågedeforsen.
In addition, we visited Linnvasselv's hydroelectric power plant, which was built between 1952–1963. In the picture you see Jan Strandberg (operations manager) and Daniel Norenius (hydropower manager). This is a bit of a display power plant with a large copper gate and art in the machinery hall itself. Note the bear statue (black pillar in front) and also the artwork in the background, which is the mountain with the reindeer herd on the bottom right.
We also had a turn to Norway to check the water intake for the turbine located in Limingen on the Norwegian side.
To be able to form a good idea of how operations work, I need to see things in reality and understand problems and challenges by talking to those who work in the facilities daily. This is the first time here, but I see ahead of me that I will come back here regularly to see the plants in all seasons and understand how challenges and difficulties interact with these.
Today we started the morning with coffee at Holmen Energi's office in Junsterforsen before we went on to look at the hydroelectric plant and the pond in Bågede. This power plant is another type of power plant called pit power plant and is not as expensive as the two we looked at yesterday. This is probably where most biological measures will be required in connection with the pending retrial. In the picture you can see the outlets from the large pond hatch and the existing fishing stairs to the right in the picture.
After two very good days in glorious weather, I will drive the car home to my family, see you next week again.
Today I have been up to Malå to meet a Sami village that is affected by one of our projects. Did you know that many places in the Lapland landscape have signs with both Swedish and Sami names?
We have primarily met to establish a relationships and create a good working environment for future discussions, but also to start looking at how we should work together with the retrial that exist. I wanted to get more information about how the people of the Sami village use the area and what they see for potential disturbances ahead of them.
On the way home, I stopped at one of the Sami village pastures to take a pucture of the reindeer who were walking there. The strange winter has caused problems for many Sami villages and every two days weather with a lot of rain and cold if nothing else has made the reindeer unable to access the natural grazing. Many gather their reindeer in the pastures they have to ensure they get enough food. In the blue container, the food and sledge used to drive it out are stored below.
I cannot help but wonder if the winter that has been this year is what we can expect for coming winters and that it is the effects of climate change that are now showing. No matter what the future brings, I am happy to actively have the opportunity to work to realize the change we need to make to renewable energy sources. Even though the projects that I work with are only a small part of the future solution, I still get to be involved and practically implement certain parts and it feels very good.
It was incredibly beautiful when I drove to work this morning. It gives you so much more energy when the sun shows up! It is a wonderful time ahead of us now that the days are getting brighter and it feels like you have more time.
Today I brought in expert help! Carina Byström who retired just before I started and who worked for 48 years at Holmen. She had to guide me in the archive that is in the basement of the office in Örnsköldsvik. Me, Carina and Daniel mainly sought judgments for Holmen's hydropower plants, but there was so much more. I realize I probably have an old soul when I think that all nice old photographs, books and notebooks are like opening packages on Christmas Eve.
What do you say, for example, about the share certificate from 1873, the book with photographs from when Harrsele power plant was expanded between the years 1953-1958, the Swedish constitutional collection from 1826 onwards or the practical Norrlandsbooks part 1 and 2. The Norrlandsboken was printed in Stockholm in 1943 and has the subtitle "Handbook for everyone in the land of great opportunities". Absolutely wonderful!
The morning started as usual with an early morning walk in the light of the headlamp, the picture is from last week when it was a little colder out in the morning. My family and I live outside urban areas and villages and have no street lights so without a headlamp you would be stranded this time of year.
Today I have had the privilege of working from home. It is incredibly nice that there is that flexibility, especially when there can be periods with a lot of traveling. I am often a little more efficient if I sit at home and work if it is about reading, reporting or document writing. In addition, I get the opportunity to take a lunch walk with our dogs while it is light out. Perfect now that we have a step counting competition at work 😉.
This will be my last blog post, I hope you enjoyed following me during these two weeks and that you also realized that being a Permit Manager is not as boring as it sounds.
I want to conclude by saying, as a relatively new Holmen employee, that from what I have learned about the company so far it makes me incredibly proud and happy to be part of such a good group. The core values COURAGE - COMMITMENT - RESPONSIBILITY matches the impression I have. Holmen is a company that is constantly trying to do a little extra. It shows, if not otherwise, in the projects that the company has implemented linked to more knowledge about eels, biodiversity in connection with our sawmills or to construct settlements for sand bees. Take care of each other and make sure to enjoy each day!