The country is enjoying another Summer of sporting achievement. Andy Murray and the British & Irish Lions have delivered a feel-good factor whilst there are high aspirations for the Ashes, the Open and the Tour de France …unless of course you don’t like sport in which case you just want to be away from the TV during the summer months.
We would like to see higher aspirations and achievements in UK energy management. Government policy, strategy and ambition have been under scrutiny and whilst there are signs of encouragement, there is a sense we could do better.
Take for example the flagship incentive schemes introduced by the Department of Climate Change (DECC). The Renewable Heat Incentive and Feed-In Tariffs were introduced to help the UK meet its 2020 carbon reduction targets. Energy users receive payments for generating heat or power from renewable sources in a bid to encourage take-up of low carbon technologies. A good idea - and some progress has already been made, particularly in the rise of solar PV. Many FM forum members will already be taking advantage and others will be reviewing the opportunities.
The issues rest with who pays for the incentive schemes …and how. It was decided that the schemes would be fully funded by the utility suppliers, who in turn would pass the costs on to energy consumers. Whilst it’s not unreasonable that businesses contribute to the cost of incentive schemes from which they can benefit, it does seem unfair to include charitable organisations already feeling the strain of income pressures and rising costs.
The lack of transparency in the process has also been highlighted as an issue. The Feed-In Tariff charges are often high, unpredictable and invisible to the bill-payer. Some suppliers have introduced the charges without notice and some suppliers have even applied backdated charges over several months.
BCC wrote to DECC to raise a number of these important issues. The reply simply re-affirmed that there are no government stipulations or even guidelines as to how and when suppliers can pass on the costs to consumers. There is no provision for suppliers to be accountable and effectively they have carte blanche to pass on costs as and when it suits them. When it comes to the needs of energy users it’s not so much “bad planning” - rather it seems there wasn’t any plan in the first place.
So we are left with a good idea but with a sting in the tail. Higher costs and less transparency. Energy users in the charities sector deserve better leadership and strategic planning. We would encourage the politicians and government bodies to take account of these important concerns in confronting the low-carbon challenge.
This piece was original part of the editor's comment in our quarterly newsletter for the FM Charity Network Forum.
Business Cost Consultants specialise in saving clients money on gas, electricity, water, fixed and mobile telecoms. They also provide advice and help clients lower carbon emissions. The company, based inGlasgow, has a track record of saving, on average, of 15% of their client’s utility costs. Customers include Apex Hotels, Walkers Shortbread, The Morris Furniture Group, Holiday Inn, CALA Homes, Maclay Inns and Shelter as well as many other well known public and private sector organisations. For further information please contact Business Cost Consultants on 0141 226 8525, e-mail