For forward-thinking energy companies, the use of data and AI offers many opportunities to improve efficiency and develop new services. When implementing new solutions, it is important to also consider the ethics and social and environmental implications of cutting-edge technologies. Together with Suur-Savon Sähkö, we built a set of ethical principles to guide their work. “For us, sustainability is a key factor. With the help of Solita’s team, we now have solid ground also in terms of our values, and a good starting point for our development of AI and data-driven solutions”, says Milla Ratia, CDO in Suur-Savon Sähkö.
Suur-Savon Sähkö is an energy group providing electricity grid services and selling electricity contracts and solar power all over Finland. Suur-Savon Sähkö provides AI and analytics-based maintenance services to electricity grid companies and uses data and AI to grow their business.
To ensure sustainable and responsible use of data and AI, we created a set of ethical principles and best practices, aligned with Suur-Savon Sähkö’s values, vision and strategy to guide their AI development.
More transparency, less risks
New technology offers a lot of business opportunities. In addition to the benefits, companies have a growing understanding of the risks. The energy sector is considered critical infrastructure, and there are regulations like the upcoming EU AI Act requiring transparency and security.
“Technology is never neutral – it always introduces and materializes values. A key question is: whose values? There will also be errors, biases, and unexpected effects. Taking powerful technology like AI into use, we must think about its impacts. What change do we want our technology to effect? And how do we make sure we understand, monitor, and mitigate undesired impacts?”, says Anna Metsäranta, Head of Sustainable AI in Solita.
Bringing values and responsible AI together
The work combined the values and strategy of Suur-Savon Sähkö with general principles and best practices of responsible AI. Leveraging our interdisciplinary team of technology, design and social science experts, we crafted a practical framework for ethical evaluation. This framework became the compass, defining the key values and responsible principles that would steer the use of data and AI.
“The project allowed us to reinforce our existing thinking, but also get new observations and ideas for responsible development. Through the workshops, we formulated principles for the responsible use of data and AI based on our values. We will apply these principles at different stages of our solution development lifecycle. The formulation of these principles coincided well with the broader change in our operating model and its implementation”, continues Kaapro.
Ethical principles to guide development work
As a result, Suur-Savon Sähkö now has seven ethical principles guiding data and AI development initiatives, spanning all stages of the solution lifecycle. These strategic level principles are the foundation for defining ways of working, needed expertise, responsibilities, tools and other practical aspects.
“This is an ongoing process. Taking the principles into our everyday work takes time and effort. We need to reflect and iterate regularly. But now we have a solid ground and a good starting point for our development of AI and data-driven solutions. It helps us to grow our business in a sustainable way. That is important to us, our partners and our customers”, says Milla Ratia.