Invoice Validation: Only pay for what you use

Energy bills can often be very detailed and complex in their make-up and it is not uncommon for administrative mistakes to be made in the billing process. Industry-wide research has found that as many as one in five invoices are inaccurate.

Mistakes can occur for a variety of reasons – from an IT glitch to wrongly inputted data or the bill being based on the wrong tariff – but the important thing is to address them as soon as possible.

At Energy Management, we estimate that a business can be overcharged by as much as 3 to 5% of the overall bill if these errors continue to go undetected. Depending on the size of the business concerned and the number of sites being supplied with energy, this could run into tens of thousands of pounds.

If time is in short supply or there isn’t the necessary in-house expertise to validate energy bills, a reputable energy consultant will be able to offer this service for you.

The return on investment is obviously dependent on the nature and the frequency of errors made at the supplier’s end, but there is scope to make significant savings.

As your energy management partner, we will check the accuracy of every invoice against known consumption data and create an itemised validation report.

We will then work with the relevant energy supplier(s) to resolve any anomalies and keep the client updated throughout the whole process.

Business energy procurement is best left in the hands of the specialists

Companies that do not necessarily have the in-house expertise or the time to manage their own energy demands often turn to external business energy consultants to take care of their needs.

Business energy procurement (the buying of the energy that powers your company’s premises) is not always straightforward and a trained eye is needed to avoid some common pitfalls.

Choosing the right business energy consultant is one of the key factors behind a successful energy procurement strategy.

Buying power at the right time and the right price is an art in itself considering the volatility of the market and the multitude of factors that influence price hikes and falls.

“As a Chartered Electrical Engineer I would like to make the important point that energy procurement is a technical specialist purchase,” said chairman and founder of Energy Management LLP, Gary Weston.

“Comparing apples with apples is difficult when some energy offers have pass-through clauses, and what seems like a fixed price quote is anything but.

“For example, volume penalties can distort the true costs which vary considerably between suppliers.”

Hidden errors

With one in five invoices found to contain errors, amounting to around three to five per cent of the overall cost of the bill, invoice validation is another important service offered by business energy consultants.

“Once you have the best offer in place, invoice validation and the suitability of fixed availability capacity charges require ongoing review,” he pointed out.

“And then there is the perceived black art of power factor correction, whereby the types of load connected can adversely affect the electricity supplies power factor, triggering additional costs which can be alleviated.”

Working with Energy Management can save companies valuable time and considerable amounts of money.

“Not only will you have peace of mind in the knowledge that you’re on the right contract, but that your energy costs are being managed professionally on a day-to-day basis,” Mr Weston added.

Energy Procurement – the key things to consider

With so many external factors determining the price of the fuel we pay, from international trade disputes to extremes of weather, procuring gas and electricity at the right price and at the right time can seem like a daunting task at times.

Here, we list some of the key things you need to consider before entering into negotiations with energy suppliers.

Be pro-active

Prices can fluctuate wildly in a matter of hours so extra vigilance when it comes to monitoring markets is key. What seems like a good deal one minute may not be so good the next; nobody has a crystal ball so set triggers/alarms in your monitoring process to minimise risk.

Having access to software such as EM-Powered, our bespoke energy management portal, certainly helps in this respect.

Time of contract

It’s important to get familiar with your Contract End Date so you can weigh up your options well before it is time to put pen to paper on a new deal.

You can fix a contract in advance depending on the level of budget certainty you want. Doing this ensures guaranteed payments, or alternatively, you may wish to choose a flexible contract to access market-reflective prices and gain potential rewards.

Signing a Purchase Power Agreement, for example, is a great way to get ahead of your competitors, showcase your commitment to sustainability, and plan for risks while leveraging value for your organisation.

Terms and conditions

Get down to the detail and ensure the terms and conditions are suitable for your business, otherwise unwanted penalty charges may occur, or you could be locked into a contract that no longer works for you. Volume Tolerances and Max/Min thresholds are two examples of areas that can get overlooked.

Invoice validation

Check your supplier bills are correct. On average, 20% of them are wrong, amounting to 5% of the overall bill value, simply because data may have been entered incorrectly. Only pay for what you use!

Negotiate

Remember, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. It’s a simple adage but one that rings true in all facets of a business. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this because of a lack of expertise in energy procurement, you can always employ an external energy management consultancy to get the best deal on your behalf.

Case Study: North Somerset Council

Energy Management and North Somerset Council have enjoyed a profitable relationship over many years.

The background

Faced with budget cuts, North Somerset Council (NSC) contacted us because they were looking for a reputable energy consultancy to help them find savings on one of their biggest overheads – energy.

Our relationship with NSC started in 2009 and it is set to continue into a third decade due to the high levels of customer satisfaction.

NSC benefits from the full range of our energy management services including Invoice Validation. More than £350,000 has been recouped from suppliers in the last six-and-a-half years after our team discovered the Council had been billed incorrectly.

Services offered

  • Procurement
  • Dedicated account management
  • Market analysis
  • Invoice Validation
  • Engineering Advice
  • EM-Powered energy management portal

Benefits

  • Accurate invoicing
  • Procurement of contracts at competitive rates
  • Ease of service for technical issues e.g.; new meter installs, change of tenancy application

What NSC say about us?

“Energy Management provides unrivalled expert advice, which has resulted in significant cost savings for the Council. We are extremely happy with the service we receive from Energy Management LLP and would recommend them without hesitation.” – Commercial & Compliance Officer for the Council.