The history of CPL Concordia

A success story

Author video on the path of the cooperative’s one hundred and ten years.

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In 2023, CPL’s growth continues through new businesses: the company expands its renewable business areas by focusing on hydrogen, on biomethane and photovoltaics. Thanks also to the PNRR funds, the cooperative was awarded a contract worth nearly 50 million for the executive design and construction of five hydrogen refueling stations to be built along the Milano Serravalle-Milano Tangenziali S.p.A. freeway network. In this year, 10 MW of photovoltaic systems were built at ground and on roofing. In the field of efficiency energy and decarbonization the company signs an alliance with Hera Group and GranTerre.


It is a year marked by the reflections of the war between Ukraine and Russia, which triggers a supply crisis and price increases on the energy front, particularly in the area of natural gas.
The Cooperative continues its work by maintaining solid balance sheet ratios and enriching its portfolio of work orders (in which the management of the Tivoli Villas in Rome stands out). The foundation is laid for a multi-year industrial plan under the banner of development and energy and ecological transition.
Also in the area of sustainability continue the environmental projects Earth Care (planting of 2,000 trees this year at the Modena offices) and The Roots of Change illustrated during the tour of the Italian offices, which for the first time also features several Stakeholders as speakers.


The year continued under the banner of issues arising from the global pandemic that affected the company’s operations. In early 2021, CPL obtained a 43 million euro loan from a pool of 7 banking institutions with a SACE guarantee, as part of the initiatives put in place by the Italian government to support the economic system affected by the Covid emergency.
Prominent among the contracts acquired is the one related to the award of the global energy contract for the Uffizi Galleries in Florence.
About sustainability followed the provision of the Concordia Hotel loaned to AUSL Modena to house Covid-positive patients and later dozens of Afghan refugees fleeing war (August 2021). Among the sustainable projects was the Earth Care project, the planting of the first 2,000 plants of the total 6,000 in forests near CPL sites.


In the year of the global pandemic, since the early days of the emergency CPL CONCORDIA has been on the front lines with hundreds of energy service workers in Italian hospitals, particularly in the conversion of wards to accommodate Covid patients, in nursing homes, and in essential services to public and private operators. To protect its 1,600 employees, the company has been activating safety protocols since February and providing appropriate devices, protecting workers with an ad hoc Covid-19 policy, and encouraging smart working to the maximum. The cooperative also looks at the needs of the local area, offering free facilities and technological devices to local healthcare (including the Concordia Hotel lent to AUSL Modena to house more than 200 Covid-positive patients), food goods to associations, washable masks, and computers for distance education to schools. In May 2020, it promoted a fundraiser among members and employees (totaling 110,000 euros) earmarked for 11 projects to support health and social realities in the areas where the company operates.
In the area of sustainability, CPL’s Annual Report is digitized in the “CPL Tells” platform, while the Bee Sustainable (bee repopulation) and Earth Care (planting of 6,000 plants in 3 forests near CPL locations) projects kick off.
Prominent among the contracts acquired are those related to energy management at the Universities of Milan (Bicocca), Brescia and Catania.


In 2019, the Cooperative continues on the path of growth in employment and the amount of work, thanks in part to the multi-year Heat Management contracts for the Metropolitan Cities of Bologna, Rome and Naples, and cogeneration with district heating for the Purifier of CAP Holding and NET in Milan. CPL is celebrating its 120th anniversary with a series of initiatives: the Work-themed conferences in Rome and Milan, Open Days open to citizens and stakeholders, the “Plastic Free” Project to reduce plastic in the company and the introduction of electric and CNG cars in the company fleet, 10 “Roots of the Future” Scholarships for the best students from Italian Technical Institutes, and a Sustainability Report Tour.


In 2018, there is a definite recovery of the company in terms of acquisitions, hiring of new staff (+180 employees), and reduction of indebtedness with banks thanks to the enhancement operations of Group companies. The multi-year work portfolio – growing to more than 700 million – includes trigeneration for the Genoa Aquarium, Global Services for the Maggio Fiorentino Theater and the Rome Auditorum, the LNG regasification plant in Marghera, relamping of the light towers at the SEA Linate Airport, fiber network laying (Open Fiber) for the cities of Lecce and Taranto, gas network construction contracts for Italgas, and FFSS maintenance for the Grand Stations in Naples, Bari and Palermo.
In June, Members, with more than 86 percent of votes cast, elected the cooperative’s new Board of Directors, which saw the return of cooperative directors to top management positions.


In 2017, the company continues the revitalization phase, thanks in part to contracts including the Global Service of the Tor Vergata University Polyclinic, Trigeneration for provider Aruba Spa and for the ISMETT Health Institute in Palermo. In May, CPL won the national “Best Practice Public Assets 2017” award given as part of the P.A. Forum in Rome for the “Smart Lux” Public Lighting Redevelopment Project in the Municipality of Montecchio Emilia (RE). In June, new bylaws were approved that put environmental sustainability and land development at the center of the cooperative mission.


In 2015, new energy plants (trigeneration and district heating) are inaugurated for Lamborghini Automobili, built by CPL CONCORDIA for its historic headquarters in Sant’Agata Bolognese. In Sardinia, the dairy plant of the Cooperative “Assegnatari Associati Arborea” is the first Sardinian reality ever to use methane, thanks to an innovative LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) plant, built by CPL, capable of generating thermal and electrical energy for its industrial needs. The supply is handled by Polargas, the CPL Group company active in the marketing and transportation of LNG.
Judicial vicissitudes affecting the cooperative led members to resolve a complete renewal of governance, with a new Board of Directors chaired by Mauro Gori, a new Supervisory Board and new tools to guarantee legality.


In 2014, CPL increases research and development of technologies related to energy efficiency, thanks in part to the 50001 certification related to the Energy Management System. Meter Italia SpA, the new entity on the market for gas meters (both smart meters and traditional mechanical meters) born from the union with Coop Bilanciai and Sacofgas 1927 SpA, is established.


CPL is definitely aiming toward research and development of technologies related to energy efficiency and smart cities. Management in Public Lighting is growing, thanks to LED upgrades, for example, in cities such as Ravenna (37,000 lighting points). Abroad, the internationalization process sees the CPL Group’s debut in the United States and Poland with offices and activities in the field of cogeneration. In May, the company achieves SA8000 Certification related to Social Responsibility towards human rights, children and labor. In December, at the headquarters of the Italian Stock Exchange in Milan, CPL CONCORDIA was awarded the FERPI Oscar di Bilancio in the category “Unlisted Companies and Large Enterprises.”


CPL CONCORDIA is awarded the OHSAS 18001 Certification related to the Workers’ Health and Safety Protection System. Development abroad continues with orders worth 10 million euros in the new sector of large turbine maintenance (Oil&Gas and Power Service). In May 2012, the cooperative’s Modena offices were hit by an earthquake measuring 5.9 on the Richter Scale: 20 Million Euros worth of damage was reported but no injuries were reported among the 600 employees who immediately resumed their activities thanks to smart campuses set up under tensile structures. In the months immediately following the earthquake, the cooperative built a 6.2 MW photovoltaic complex on the roofs of the Bologna Agribusiness Center and started up 30 cogeneration plants.


The largest regional photovoltaic parks in Tuscany (Pisa, 3.7 MW) and Abruzzo (Torano, 1 MW) are being launched for renewable energy production. In smart metering technologies for Gas Distributors, CPL continues development after winning Italgas’ largest European tender for new volume converters, with 25,000 correctors to be installed in 2010-2011.


CPL Energy India Private Limited, a joint venture to export gas distribution technologies and renewables to the Indian subcontinent, is established in New Delhi. Turnover grows in Algeria: of particular technical and design significance is the intervention in the Hamma turbogas power plant in Algiers. The CPL Group operates directly in the Maghreb through the Algerian-registered company Aipower. The largest agricultural biomass power plant in Italy (4 MW) is inaugurated in Bondeno di Ferrara, which produces energy thanks to cogenerators installed by CPL.


The anniversary is celebrated with a series of 6 conferences on the themes “Man, work cooperation,” and a photo book (“Ott[o]re,” Business Media Sole 24 Ore), the testimonial essay “For those who will come after me” (ediz. Rubbettino) and the video “110” directed by Roberto Rabitti (winner of the 25th Turin Film Festival) are published. At the Group level, CPL has more than 1250 employees (of which 520 are partners), exceeds the threshold of 300 million euros in sales and 110 million euros in shareholders’ equity. As a birthday present, it lights the first flame on the island of Ischia: an €18 million project financing for the first Italian island after Sicily to receive methane (thanks to 13 km of underwater pipelines and 45 km of urban networks).


In Carano (Val di Fiemme, TN) CPL Concordia builds the largest public photovoltaic plant in Italy: 500 kW of power, nearly 3,000 silicon panels (fixed and mobile) capable of developing more than 625,000 kilowatt-hours per year. It will be the first in a series that will touch 40 mW of installed PV capacity in 2012. There are major developments in the use of CPL-branded Tyfon absorption chillers (Linate Airport), while the offerings in the cogeneration field are expanding to agricultural and livestock biomass and sewage sludge.


COOPGAS, the CPL Group’s main gas sales company, begins operations. Thanks to acquisitions and construction of new gas networks in the Southern Italian Basins, the number of gas concessions for which CPL operates the methane or LPG network nationally and internationally rises to 130. Major district heating lines are being built at Malpensa and Linate airports, while innovative geothermal and home automation (building automation) projects are being implemented in Modena.


With the acquisition from British Gas of BiGi RIMI Italia CPL CONCORDIA completes the natural gas supply chain in the E&P (Exploration & Production) and raw material marketing sectors: the acquired mining assets consist of concessions and exploration permits both on-shore and in the Adriatic off-shore. Abroad, CPL is present in China with the development of a joint venture in Tianjin; projects for the construction of gas networks begin in Romania. Significant contracts are acquired in France and Greece, while in Argentina methane distribution and sales are initiated.


CPL CONCORDIA is 100 years old: on this occasion, meetings, volumes, films, a photo exhibition with archival photos (“CPL CONCORDIA 1899-1999: A Century of Great Energies”) are being held; honorary members and prominent personalities from the political and economic world (Sergio Zavoli, Everardo Dalla Noce, Enzo Biagi, among others) are present.


The company decided to undertake a progression in the conception of CPL CONCORDIA as a holding company at the head of a number of subsidiaries and affiliates: among the first companies were Metanodotti Polesani (1986) and Co.Gas (1989), which were acquired to grow in the field of concession plant management.


Severo Barotto (Mirandola 1947 – Concordia 2014) worked at CPL CONCORDIA for more than 37 years. He held operational positions at the construction site, and later served as Vice President and Personnel Director of the cooperative for more than 20 years.


In the 1980s, the government decided to promote methanization in southern Italy, and CPL participated in the construction of gas networks in southern Italy. “Account” and “concession” management begins, which will affect several dozen municipalities over a few years. During the same period, CPL embarked on new avenues in the areas of district heating, heat management, and cogeneration with experiments (FIAT Totems).


CPL builds a methane gas odorizer storage facility in Concordia, the first of its kind in Italy to be built in compliance with specific environmental protection regulations. From this site, CPL’s special vehicles supply the gas distribution plants of municipalities, municipal utilities and private concessionaires.


Roberto Casari (Cavezzo, MO, 1953) began working in the cooperative in 1970 as a technical clerk as a thermoelectrician in charge of gas plant transformations. In April 1975 he was appointed vice president. Meanwhile, both acting president Giuseppe Tanferri and technical director Bruno Bighi converge on Casari as someone who can bring dynamism to the cooperative despite his young age. He was then elected president of CPL CONCORDIA in April 1976 at the age of 22: the cooperative had 80 members at the time and a turnover of 14 billion liras.
Under his presidency CPL CONCORDIA seized development opportunities (the methanization of Southern Italy in the 1980s) and began a series of activities that would prove central to the cooperative’s growth: heat management, cogeneration and district heating. Among his various honors, President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano in 2011 awarded him the honor of “Cavaliere dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica italiana.”


In the early 1970s, network construction activity was joined by the transformation of gas-using appliances from city to natural gas (highly skilled work learned at Italgas). The first transformation work takes place in Novi Ligure, followed by Livorno, Cesena, Vercelli, Lucca, Pistoia, Legnano, La Spezia and 30 other municipalities. Then CPL develops the “Safe Gas Service,” which is the periodic inspection of natural gas appliances in homes for compliance with safety regulations and advice on savings.


When the road processing market shows signs of downturn, the way out of the severe crisis the cooperative has been in for the past 3 years is found in switching to the construction of methane gas distribution networks. The first plant in CPL’s “energy turnaround” is built in Castelfranco Emilia: it is the first of more than 200 designed and built by the cooperative in all regions of Italy, from Trentino to the islands of Sicily and Sardinia.


Giuseppe Tanferri (Concordia, MO, 1915 – 2007) began working with a wheelbarrow in the employ of CPL in reclamation and canalization works. He was president of CPL from 1958 to 1976. In the docufilm “Il Lavoro e la Giostra” (edited by Alessandro Baraldi, CPL Edit.) he talks about his ideas about the cooperative. When asked, “If you could speak to young people entering the cooperative, what would you say?” he replied, “I always felt that I was a man not belonging to myself, but belonging to a society. I felt that I belonged to the working class, and I was only interested in working within the working class; the cooperative was a body that organized jobs and carried them out through members and no longer employees. It is very difficult to discuss these things today, ideals to be pursued whatever it takes.” “The best, most important memory of your presidency?” “It was a battle that I had to fight myself: the transition from earth to iron, that is, from earthworks to gas and water networks. In this way the cooperative was able to set itself on a different, and better, path.”


Surveyor Bruno Bighi (Carpi, MO, 1929 – 2001) was the first graduate technician hired by the cooperative. CPL’s “historical” technical director from 1954 to 1984, he was instrumental in laying the foundation for what the cooperative is today. His insights and determination to pursue his “new ideas” on methane and the development of related activities made him a key figure in CPL’s technological development: the start of the construction of methane networks, the transformation of internal gas plants, the management on behalf of gas networks, and the energy sector. President Giuseppe Tanferri recounts how the beginning of that bond of work and friendship came about in ’54: “We realized the importance of having relationships and titles with the Civil Engineers for the Secchia works: we looked for a young surveyor. Through the Consortium of Cooperatives of Modena they pointed us to this young man from Carpi, Bruno Bighi: he worked during the day and in the evening he went to Modena by bicycle to study as a surveyor. He gladly agreed to come and work at CPL, and for us, who were only workers in the cooperative, having a technician seemed like a great thing.” The Hall that hosts the Members’ Meetings at Concordia was named after Bighi’s memory.

CPL CONCORDIA diversifies activities and enters the water sector, with the construction of the aqueduct in Arezzo, then Monghidoro (BO). New construction materials are applied: the Mariana (MN) Canal in 1960 is CPL’s first reinforced concrete work.


CPL CONCORDIA is commissioned to build trunk roads in the provinces of Modena, Mantua, Rovigo, Agrigento, Pavia, and Aosta. These are jobs also acquired far away from the Concordia corporate headquarters, with all the related risks and difficulties.


In the immediate aftermath of the war, assignments to the cooperative began again: work on the excavation of the Sabbioncello canal to divert water from the Po. This is the period that marks the beginning of the use of locomotives and decauville cars instead of wheelbarrows.


The consequences of the Italian and international economic crisis hit the cooperative, which found itself reconstituted in September ’34 in the presence of just 23 members. Due to the lack of work and the political matrix adverse to the Regime-which hinders the acquisition of contracts-CPL ceases operations, but the cooperative does not dissolve, although it remains inactive for almost a decade (until 1945).


The Consorzi di Bonifica Parmigiana-Moglia, Burana and the Genio Civile di Modena commissioned the cooperative to carry out various channelization works or railroad sections (e.g., the Mirandola-Rolo section).


The cooperative is among the founders of the Provincial Federation of Worker Cooperatives of the Province of Modena.


On April 23, 1899, in Concordia di Modena, in the presence of notary Edgardo Muratori, a well-known enlightened liberal, the “Association among the Labor Workers of the former Mandamento di Concordia” was established in the form of a cooperative society with unlimited capital. The articles of incorporation are signed by 382 workers (most of them illiterate). Each of them pledged 30 liras per share. Almost all are members of the society of the same name founded in 1890 and dissolved due to the authoritarian clampdown imposed by the Di Rudini government on socialist-inspired organizations. The cooperative, which reached 1,500 members in the early part of the century, was involved in the excavation, reclamation, channelization and construction of embankments for the containment and regimentation of water; these were the famous ‘scarriolanti,’ who, among other activities, were responsible for the embankment of the Secchia River.