Business energy: How to manage multiple sites

High business energy using warehouse

Running a business across several sites can be complicated and cost you more than it needs to if a properly coordinated energy management programme is not in place.

Over time, extensions may be added to existing properties or new sites may be bought as your company grows.

If this scenario is not properly managed, and not all companies have the necessary in-house expertise or time to do this, you could end up with a disparate energy contract portfolio with different renewal dates for your gas and electricity and find yourself dealing with multiple suppliers.

A lack of joined-up thinking in procurement, cost management and consumption makes it difficult to pinpoint areas where energy, and therefore money, can be saved.

Looking specifically at business energy procurement, aligning energy contracts into one brings clarity and has several advantages:

  • An identical start and end date to an energy contract allows for smoother negotiations at renewal time
  • Buying larger volumes from one supplier should help secure a better price for your power
  • Uniformity of billing makes it easier to spot errors contained within invoices. Big savings can be made through our Invoice Validation service.

Accurate reporting of energy data is also essential, which is where energy management portals such as EM-Powered are invaluable for target setting, energy auditing and other key objectives in reducing consumption.

Speak to one of our procurement team to find out how we can help secure the best deal for you regardless of how many sites or meter points you have.

Energy Bill Relief Scheme extended

Electric lamp

The government has expanded the Energy Bill Relief Scheme (EBRS) by four months so that relief can be claimed on all fixed contracts signed on or after 1st December 2021. Previously this was only applicable to contracts signed from 1st April 2022.

The expansion of the EBRS means that non-household customers who signed contracts at the end of last year or in Q1 of this year are now covered.

We are currently in the process of clarifying some of the details of what this means for flex contracts and other aspects such as green levies and will update you accordingly as the situation evolves. 

Government outlines plans to help businesses tackle energy crisis

Westminster Palace using energy to light up at night

On Wednesday 21 September, the U.K government’s Business Secretary, Jacob Rees-Mogg, unveiled plans to help businesses negotiate their way through the energy crisis.

The Hospitality Sector, one of the industries most under threat from rising energy prices, has welcomed the government’s new Energy Bill Relief Scheme.

Through the scheme, the government will provide a discount on wholesale gas and electricity prices for all non-domestic customers (including all UK businesses, the voluntary sector like charities and the public sector such as schools and hospitals) whose current gas and electricity prices have been significantly inflated in light of global energy prices. This support will be equivalent to the Energy Price Guarantee put in place for households.

It will apply to fixed contracts agreed on or after 1 April 2022 and to deemed, variable and flexible tariffs and contracts. It will apply to energy usage from 1 October 2022 to 31 March 2023, running for an initial 6-month period for all non-domestic energy users. The savings will be first seen in October bills, which are typically received in November.

As with the Energy Price Guarantee for households, customers do not need to take action or apply to the scheme to access the support. Support (in the form of a p/kWh discount) will automatically be applied to bills.

To administer support, the government has set a Supported Wholesale Price – expected to be £211 per MWh for electricity and £75 per MWh for gas, less than half the wholesale prices anticipated this winter – which is a discounted price per unit of gas and electricity. This is equivalent to the wholesale element of the Energy Price Guarantee for households. It includes the removal of green levies paid by non-domestic customers who receive support under the scheme.

Without such intervention, there was real concern that many pubs, restaurants and hotels would be forced into liquidation as energy bills were anticipated to rise by as much as 500% from October.

Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality said: “This intervention is unprecedented and it is extremely welcome that the government has listened to hospitality businesses facing an uncertain winter. We particularly welcome its inclusiveness – from the smallest companies to the largest – all of which combine to provide a huge number of jobs, which are now much more secure.

“The government has recognised the vulnerability of hospitality as a sector, and we will continue to work with the government, to ensure that there is no cliff edge when these measures fall away.”

The level of price reduction for each business will vary depending on their contract type and circumstances, set out below:

  • Non-domestic customers on existing fixed-price contracts will be eligible for support as long as the contract was agreed on or after 1 April 2022. Provided that the wholesale element of the price the customer is paying is above the Government Supported Price, their per unit energy costs will automatically be reduced by the relevant p/kWh for the duration of the Scheme. Customers entering new fixed price contracts after 1 October will receive support on the same basis
  • Those on default, deemed or variable tariffs will receive a per-unit discount on energy costs, up to a maximum of the difference between the Supported Price and the average expected wholesale price over the period of the Scheme. The amount of this Maximum Discount is likely to be around £405/MWh for electricity and £115/MWh for gas, subject to wholesale market developments. Non-domestic customers on default or variable tariffs will therefore pay reduced bills, but these will still change over time and may still be subject to price increases. This is why the government is working with suppliers to ensure all their customers in England, Scotland and Wales are given the opportunity to switch to a fixed contract/tariff for the duration of the scheme if they wish, underpinned by the government’s Energy Bill Relief Scheme support
  • For businesses on flexible purchase contracts, typically some of the largest energy-using businesses, the level of reduction offered will be calculated by suppliers according to the specifics of that company’s contract and will also be subject to the Maximum Discount

A parallel scheme, based on the same criteria and offering comparable support, but recognising the different market fundamentals, will be established in Northern Ireland.

If you are not connected to either the gas or electricity grid, equivalent support will also be provided for non-domestic consumers who use heating oil or alternative fuels instead of gas. Further detail on this will be announced shortly.

The government will publish a review into the operation of the scheme in three months to inform decisions on future support after March 2023. The review will focus in particular on identifying the most vulnerable non-domestic customers and how the government will continue assisting them with energy costs.

If you need clarification on what these changes mean for you, Energy Management energy consultants and your dedicated Energy Management Account Manager will only be too happy to help.

Prime Minister Liz Truss said: “I understand the huge pressure businesses, charities and public sector organisations are facing with their energy bills, which is why we are taking immediate action to support them over the winter and protect jobs and livelihoods.

“As we are doing for consumers, our new scheme will keep their energy bills down from October, providing certainty and peace of mind.

“At the same time, we are boosting Britain’s homegrown energy supply so we fix the root cause of the issues we are facing and ensure greater energy security for us all.”

Read what Zenergi’s Head of Energy, Tim Partridge, has to say here >>

Government business energy support

Downing Street SW1 Road sign

As businesses have not benefitted from an energy price cap and are not always able to fix their business energy price through fixed energy deals, many – particularly those in the under-pressure hospitality sector – are reporting projected increases in what they pay for their gas and electricity of around 500% if not more.

On becoming the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister, Liz Truss announced a new six-month scheme for businesses and other non-domestic users (e.g charities and public sector organisations) that will offer equivalent support as being provided for domestic consumers in a bid to protect them from soaring energy costs.

After the initial six-month scheme, the Government says it will provide ongoing, focused support for vulnerable industries, with a review in three months’ time to consider where this support would be best targeted.

The Government has promised to provide energy suppliers with the difference between this new lower price, and what they would charge business energy customers if this were not in place. Schemes previously funded by green levies will also continue to be funded by the Government during this two-year period.

Businesses are waiting for further details with bated breath and, sadly for some, any assistance may come too late.

“The Government says they are going to do for business customers what they do for domestic users but PWC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) are currently with the Treasury to see how they can do that because it is a different marketplace,” said an Energy Management spokesman.

For immediate assistance with business energy procurement please call us on 01225 867722  and speak to one of our energy consultants.

How to become more energy efficient as a business

With prices already at record levels and set to climb even further in the months ahead, businesses need to do all they possibly can to mitigate against rising energy costs.

While companies are powerless to stop the upward trajectory, drafting and then implementing an energy efficiency strategy is one way they can help tackle the crisis.

Wastefulness is not something most companies can afford in the present climate so targeting a reduction in energy consumption should be high up the business agenda.

To able to reduce consumption, first businesses need to understand when and where they are using energy.

Energy Management has bespoke software that enables us to assess the energy performance of a business across its asset base.

Clients of Energy Management can also benefit from the use of our energy management portal, EM-Powered, which has a wide range of features that enable on-site energy managers and facilities managers to keep track of costs.

Once the data has been gathered and analysed, informed decisions can then be made about where savings can be made.

This may result in equipment upgrades or relatively low-scale investment in timer switches for lights or the installation of longer-lasting LED lightbulbs.

Encouraging behavioural change amongst employees is key to the success of an energy efficiency strategy.

Most money-conscious employees wouldn’t leave lights on unnecessarily or not properly shut down their electrical devices but gentle reminders from an appointed, in-house ‘energy champion’ never do any harm.

Alternatively, you could turn to an external energy agency to conduct an energy audit and determine how you can use less power without compromising business throughput, output or thermal comfort and wellbeing of staff.

Here’s a summary of the steps you can take:

  • Get an energy audit

Air leaks and issues around boilers and insulation will be identified along with any energy-saving opportunities.

  • Purchase energy-efficient equipment

Check the energy star rating of appliances and, where applicable, replace with more energy efficient models

  • Reduce peak demand

Try to stagger working hours to spread the load and bring energy consumption down during periods when it is typically at its highest.

  • Lighting

LED lightbulbs and timer switches that turn off the lights when not in use are simple measures that don’t have to break the budget

  • Heating

Check to see if the boiler that supplies heating to the building is serviced and well-maintained.

Install thermostats so that rooms are only being heated when they need to be.

  • Switch off idle devices

A great office energy-saving tip is to have your computer add-ons (printers, monitors, etc.) connected to power strips so that the flip of a single switch can shut down several devices at a time.

  • Office redesign

A simple redesign of the layout of your office may result in more natural sunlight entering the building and, therefore, reduce the need for artificial light. Greater exposure to natural sunlight is also known to improve the well-being of staff.

  • Home working

By offering employees the option of working from home, you are not only giving them flexibility in their work/life balance but also offset energy costs from the office.

  • Natural protection

Planting trees in strategic places around the outside of the building will provide shade from the sun and act as wind breaks during the winter months and can help reduce the demand for air conditioning and heating.

  • Cultural change

Appointing an ‘energy champion’ to advocate energy efficiency throughout an organisation and encourage their co-workers to adopt ‘cleaner’ practices in and outside of the workplace is one way of encouraging behavioural change.

Market knowledge invaluable in energy procurement decision making

At Energy Management Ltd, we believe that expert guidance and support are more important than ever before in the ever-changing energy markets.

Our years of industry experience allied to the best market-tracking software and analysis tools enable us to provide invaluable insight into the drivers that impact oil, gas and electricity prices.

Understanding those factors is key to implementing a well-informed energy procurement strategy that is individually tailored to your own specific business needs.

After a big spike in the early part of March, gas and electricity prices have remained fairly stable over the last two months but an upward trend can easily reoccur due to largely uncontrollable factors.

LNG fleet grounded

As we reach the middle part of the year, the drivers behind energy price rises remain as variable and unpredictable as ever.

Only last week, damage to the Freeport LNG Terminal in the United States caused by an explosion and subsequent fire in the plant shook the European markets as it accounts for 20 per cent of LNG gas processing.

Growing dependency on LNG deliveries from the US means the longer this goes on, the twitchier the markets will become.

The latest estimates suggest a three-week downtime period. Normally in that time, 13-15 LNG vessels would deliver LNG supplies, so not an insignificant amount, and it goes without saying, the markets will be keeping a keen eye on that situation in the weeks ahead.

Storage target under lock and key

Meanwhile, the EU has passed the 50 per cent gas storage landmark ahead of forecast. At that replenishment rate, the 80 per cent target rate will be met well ahead of the November deadline, possibly September.

On that note, a formal application has been submitted by Centrica to reopen the Rough Storage facility in the North Sea five years after its closure. A bearish or bullish response will be triggered depending on the outcome.

The COVID-19 lockdown situation in China, one of the world’s biggest energy-consuming countries, is always a keen area of focus as prices rise and retract depending on whether restrictions are being rolled back or reimposed.

Also, the gas maintenance season is now into its stride but activity appears to be at the lower end of the scale at present.

Read more on how our Energy Procurement expertise enable us to get the best energy deal for your business.

Denmark hosts global conference on energy efficiency

The International Energy Agency’s 7th global conference on energy efficiency is currently taking place in the small Danish town of Sønderborg, best known as home to some of Europe’s largest green technology companies.

In his opening address, Denmark’s Minister for Climate, Energy and Utilities, Dan Jørgensen, highlighted the challenges facing today’s society and presented some of the solutions that will help countries become more energy-efficient and more energy independent, especially from countries such as Russia.

“It is a conference held at the right time and if you excuse my modesty, in the right place,” he said.

“The time is right because, unfortunately, we are in the middle of an energy crisis due to the war on Ukraine and, of course, a climate crisis, and we desperately need solutions.

“It is the right place because Denmark, in general, and Sønderborg, specifically, for decades now has developed some of the solutions that we need.

“Denmark is far from perfect, we still have a long way to go. But we have taken big steps towards greening our society and making us less dependent on fossil fuels.”

The oil crisis of a half-century ago prompted Denmark to embark on a green revolution and the country became home to the first offshore wind farm.

In addition to renewable energy generation, Denmark became a forerunner in energy efficiency, one of the ways in which households and companies alike can mitigate against record oil prices as part of their overall energy management strategy.

“Energy efficiency is not only about using less of it but also about how you use it and how many times you use it.

“The IEA estimates that with faster efforts in energy efficiency we will be able to save 28million barrels a day, that is almost three times as much as Russia’s current daily oil production, or put differently, 660 billion cubic metres of natural gas a year that’s four times as much gas as the EU imports from Russia,” Mr Jørgensen points out.

The IEA 7th global conference on energy efficiency runs from 7-9 June.

Long-term success is built on exemplary customer service

At Energy Management, ensuring the highest possible standards of customer service is critically important to us and explains why our client retention rate is so high.

So it is always pleasing to hear that what we do is validated by our clients, many of whom have been with us for years, some from the very outset of the company when energy management was in its embryonic stages as an industry.

Read our Howard Tenens Case Study

Whether it’s energy procurement, invoice validation, legislation and compliance, ESOS Phase 3 or SECR, or any other services in our energy management portfolio, the same exacting standards apply in terms of customer service.

Each client has a dedicated and highly knowledgeable account manager on hand to deal with any concerns and queries, to ensure they are in safe hands.

We always make it our mission to get the right business energy procurement deal for clients, not what’s best for us as a consultancy, and go the extra mile to deliver on that.

As well as the human touch, Energy Management clients benefit from having access to our bespoke energy management portal, which arms energy managers and facilities managers with accurate, almost-live data to make informed decisions around energy management strategy.

EM-Powered has been universally praised for its functionality and the array of features that add real value to the relationship between ourselves and our clients.

David English, commercial director of the leading records management company, Restore until his recent retirement, is a big advocate of the portal.

“I’m delighted with what Energy Management does, they are good honest people to work with, and the portal has just added even more value to our relationship,” he said during his time with the company.

EM-Powered – a tool to help you take back control of your business energy costs

EM-Powered - Monthly Consumption

In the four years it has been fully operational, Energy Management’s bespoke energy management portal, EM-Powered has become an invaluable tool for companies with regard to their energy procurement strategy.

With the business energy markets as high as they currently are forming a sound energy procurement strategy is more challenging than ever but one thing companies can do is ensure they know exactly how much energy they are consuming and when are the peak times.

EM-Powered collects and aggregates live data to allow end-users to monitor and analyse their business energy consumption to a very high degree of accuracy, which in turn is massively beneficial when it comes to budgeting.

Put simply, EM-Powered gives control back to its users at a time when energy markets are extremely bullish in their behaviour.

Focusing on consumption rather than energy procurement at such times is crucial because, as the time-worn phrase goes, the cheapest unit of energy is the one that is never used. Knowing how much energy is being consumed, and when and where, is key to that energy procurement strategy.

Amongst the many add-on benefits listed here, an alarm system has been built into EM-Powered to help customers avoid exceeding their Excess Capacity Allowance and potentially fall foul of punitive penalty charges.

As well as energy reporting, EM-Powered speeds up the reporting process in other areas such as the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC), where the savings being made can be monitored regularly rather than waiting for the traditional annual report.

For further information on EM-Powered and how it may help your business, please get in touch with Ian Scattergood is@energymanagementltd.com or call: 01225-867722.

EV Charging – a structured approach

EV charging night scene

At the end of February 2022, there were more than 780,000 plug-in electric vehicles registered in the UK.

The growth in consumer demand brought about by the greater availability of vehicles and government support is having to be met by a UK EV charging point infrastructure that continues to develop as companies seek to play their part in decarbonising the economy.

Take the Motor Fuel Group (MFG) as an example, the UK’s leading independent forecourt operator is investing c.£400 million in Ultra-Rapid 150kW and 350kW EV Chargers (“Ultra-Rapid 150kW and 350kW EV Chargers”) across its network (currently 918 sites) in the next decade.

MFG will install a total of c.3,000 Ultra-Rapid 150kW and 350kW EV Chargers at c.500 sites by the end of 2030.

London has Lion’s share of EV Charging points

Overall, more than 50,000 charging points exist in the UK at nearly 19,000 different locations, a third of which are in the Greater London Area, according to zap-map.com.

Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) are inundated with enquiries to add load to their networks and it’s important to ensure they are armed with the right information to understand the needs of the consumer and facilitate any subsequent supply upgrade requests.

At Energy Management, we have a dedicated team that has proven experience in the rollout of EV charging infrastructure for businesses.

Here’s our step-by-step guide to the process:\

Pre-installation survey/review

  • Identify site locations where EV chargers will be installed, please provide plan of site showing charger locations
  • Identify how many and what size chargers are to be installed at each site
  • Confirm charger make and model. Data relating to harmonics may be required by some DNOs
  • Confirm operational mode 1, 2, 3, 4
  • Calculate the extra electricity capacity required to install EV chargers
  • Confirm constrained or unconstrained operation (capacity limited at certain times of the day)
  • Identify the “Available Capacity” for each site (this will be taken from the “Connection Agreement”)
  • Download HH data for each site and calculate the maximum demand in KVA
  • Calculate if there is enough capacity to install EV charging using the existing connection agreement
  • For many sites, we will need to request extra capacity from the DNO
  • For some sites a new dedicated supply might be the better option

What next?

Electricity Supply – No Capacity Upgrade Required

If an existing electricity supply can be used to feed the EV charger/s, there will be no requirement to request a change to the connection agreement; however, an Energy Networks Association (ENA) Notification form will need to be submitted to the local DNO to confirm it can be connected to the network regardless of capacity. 

Electricity Supply – Capacity Upgrade Required

Where a connection agreement requires uplifting to a level where EV charging can be supported, we will submit an application to the local DNO and also complete the ENA form. A request will be made to see if the extra power calculated to support the site can be secured and how much the upgrade will cost.

The quotation will provide the cost for “contestable work” such as trenching and “non-contestable work” such as connecting to the electricity network. To date, we have received quotations ranging from £3,500 to £80,000 depending on the scale of the job.

This would also be applicable should the EV charger have its own supply from the DNO rather than a connection from the existing supply.

Connection of New Supply

To enable a larger capacity agreement, the amount of work to secure this will vary, as highlighted below.

  • Paperwork exercise – no physical works
  • Fuse upgrade – the DNO will increase incoming fuse sizes, there could be upgrades to customer switchgear required to match.
  • Complete upgrade of DNO’s incoming mains position, this will require physical works for both DNO and customers electrical contractor.

The final option is almost certainly going to result in the disconnection of the old supply and the installation of a new one. 

Where this is the case, the old supply identification number (MPAN) will be replaced with a new MPAN. A meter operator contract, data aggregator/collector contract and a new electricity supply contract will be procured a minimum of 8 weeks before the electricity supply is to be connected.

Even if the old electricity supply contract has a long duration left to run, a new contract will be produced using current wholesale energy rates and non-commodity costs. At present this can be an uplift of 90%.

If you would like to know more about our EV installation infrastructure service, please get in touch with Stuart Newbury on 01225-867722 or email sn@usrjonn