Ofgem: Energy customers may save up to £260 without switching

Energy market regulator Ofgem has claimed that millions of UK customers could save hundreds of pounds per year on their energy bills, without the need to switch supplier.

Figures from Ofgem indicate that more than 1.7 million Npower customers could save as much as £261 a year by moving to another Npower tariff.  Npower have stated that customers are unlikely to be able to save £261, as fixed-price deals are typically limited to a certain number of customers.

Nearly 6.6 million customers of British Gas may save £129 per year, although British Gas has argued that it has changed its prices so the saving is now £43 a year. The Ofgem figures demonstrate that almost all of SSE customers are on the most expensive form of tariff, with 91% of customers on standard variable tariffs, in contrast to just 9% at First Utility. In the UK in total, standard tariff contracts represent 66% of households.

Supplier % of Customers on Standard Variable Tariffs (SVTs) Difference between SVT and cheapest deal
British Gas 74% £129 (now £43)
Co-operative Energy 42% £245
EDF 56% £136
E.On. 73% £41
Extra Energy 14% £154
First Utility 9% £157
Npower 59% £261
Ovo 35% £67
Scottish Power 50% £129
SSE 91% £98

 

In November, the business and energy secretary, Greg Clark, met with various energy suppliers, following claims that some suppliers were making large profits as a results of customers who are on standard variable tariffs. The industry denied profiteering, but continues to come under pressure to reduce its prices for standard tariffs. Three of the biggest suppliers have subsequently frozen their tariffs through the winter as a result. Despite this Ofgem chose to publish its comparison table to highlight the widespread difference between the cheapest and most expensive tariffs.

Source: BBC

Drax set to acquire Opus Energy

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Power station owner Drax is set to purchase energy supplier Opus Energy in a £340m deal as part of the company’s strategy overhaul. Drax currently runs the largest power station in the UK in Selby, has stated that the acquisition of Opus Energy will create Britain’s fifth biggest non-domestic energy retailer. Currently Opus Energy provides the highest proportion of electricity and gas supply to businesses outside of the “Big Six” energy firms.

The company also announced a £18.5m purchase of four gas turbine projects that will have a total capacity of 1,200MW as Drax looks to move away from coal fired power generation. Drax is keen to switch from coal burning with the government enforcing a shutdown of coal plants by 2025, therefore explaining the move towards direct energy supply and backup power. Half of the plant has already been converted to run on biomass, although the government is not supporting the conversion of the remaining coal units. CEO of the Drax Group Dorothy Thompson said: “These initiatives mark an important step in delivering our strategy, contributing to stronger, more predictable, long-term, financial performance through greater diversification of the businesses, delivering more opportunities right across the markets in which we operate.”

Shares in Drax rose by 20% when the deal was announced on Tuesday, although warned that 2016 underlying earnings would be towards the bottom end of forecasts.

Source: BBC

National Grid increases UK winter margin forecast

electricity_pylon_italyThe system operator for electricity in the UK has revised upwards its capacity margin for this coming winter. Published in National Grid’s Winter Outlook report the operator predicted a power margin at 6.6%, which is 1.1% higher than earlier forecasts. The improvement in the supply margin has taken into account additional generation capacity at Eggborough power station and an extension to an outage on the East West Interconnector (EWIC) with the Republic of Ireland which will decrease exports from the UK during winter months. Eggborough power station announced that it would run its unit 4 in the wholesale market this winter, alongside two other units that will provide supplemental balancing reserve services throughout the season. The unit at Eggborough represents an additional 430MW of capacity available to the market, with the outage at the EWIC is predicted to also decrease exports to Ireland by 250MW.

National Grid have forecasted that normalised demand is set to peak in mid-December at 52.0GW; whilst the week commencing 9 January is set to have the lowest level of operational surplus as a result of high expected demand and planned outages. Despite this, National Grid expects there to be sufficient generation and interconnector imports available to meet demand throughout the winter.

Gas demand for this winter is expected to fall year on year, with reduced exports to Ireland and continental Europe the main reason. National Grid predict gas demand for electricity generation to be higher than winter 2015 as forward prices indicate that gas will be cheaper than coal for power generation.

Source: National Grid

Global Energy Investment falls by 8% in 2015

electricity_pylon_3The latest report published by the International Energy Agency (IEA) has revealed that worldwide investment in energy has slipped by 8% in 2015. Total investment in the energy sector fell in 2015 was $1.8 trillion, which was £0.2 trillion lower than the amount invested in 2014.

With a spend of $315bn on energy, China was again the largest country by expenditure on energy; with a particular focus on low-carbon generation and record level investment in electricity networks. In the USA, money towards future energy supply fell by $75bn last year with low oil prices and cost deflation attributed to the fall. The fall in US investment represented half of total global decline in energy spending during 2015.

The IEA’s World Energy Investment 2016 report suggested that the decline in upstream oil and gas spending had outweighed steady investment in renewable sources, energy networks and efficiency projects. The report stated that renewable energy accounted for almost one-fifth of total energy spending last year at $313bn and was the largest source of power investments. Although expenditure on renewable power was flat from 2011 to 2015, power generation from newly installed capacity rose by one third which represented a sharp decline in the cost of wind turbines and solar photovoltaics.  Conversely, the figure invested into global gas-fired power generation crashed by almost 40%.

Innovation in technology has seen a rise in funding for smart grids and storage, with the IEA are expecting to provide a critical role in integrating large volumes of wind and solar power. Battery storage investment was reported as growing ten times its level from 2010.

Source: IEA

Centrica Extends Gas Deal with Qatar

oil_platformCentrica, the owner of British Gas, has extended its multi-billion pound deal with Qatar to purchase gas until 2023 in an aim to help the UK increase its imports to replace dwindling domestic supplies from the North Sea.

The energy giant will buy up to two million tonnes of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) each year from January 2019 in a deal worth up to £2 billion, once its existing contract ends. The company first entered in to a deal with Qatargas to buy LNG in 2011, before it extended its current deal, which ends in December 2018.

“With the decline in North Sea production and the recent growth in global LNG supply, the UK is increasingly becoming an attractive destination for LNG,” Centrica said.

If all of this gas were to come to the UK, it could supply the needs of around two million homes, according to Centrica; however, the energy firm is not obligated to bring all of the LNG to the UK, and could, for example, sell volume to other countries in Europe. Over the past five years however, Centrica has imported 40 cargoes to the Britain.

The new agreement is for a lower annual volume, with the previous deals for 2.4 million tonnes and 3 million tonnes a year respectively.

Forecasts currently show that by the mid-2020’s, the UK will need to import around two-thirds of its natural gas requirements as oil North Sea fields become decommissioned. Currently, the UK imports about half of its gas needs, with LNG accounting for 31 percent of gas imports in 2015, 92 percent of which came from Qatar.

Iain Conn, Centrica chief executive, said: “The scale of our gas demand and our strong energy marketing and trading capabilities mean we are ideally placed to work with LNG producers across the world, providing flexibility and a route to market at a time when secure market access is increasingly important.”

Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, Qatar Petroleum president and chairman of the Qatargas board, said the deal “underscores Qatargas’ reputation as a safe and reliable supplier of LNG” and “has the potential to positively contribute to the United Kingdom’s energy security for years to come”.

Source: The Telegraph

5 energy saving tips from the world of football that can save your business money

energy_savingThe fine margins between a business’s profit and loss are explicitly evident in the inflated world of football. The transfer window closed this week with clubs spending in excess of £1bn. This is a game where exorbitant wages are common place and a poor run of seasons can result in administration.

With that in mind, there are notable examples from two different football clubs that highlight the way in which energy use can affect the profit margin of a business.

Case study 1: The time when Newcastle United chiefs shaved £200,000 off energy bills

Admittedly, blog posts in 2016 that cite Mike Ashley as an example of best practice will be few and far between, however, the controversial owner of Newcastle United and Sports Direct went some way to highlighting just how much money a business can save when they are efficient with energy outlays.

The Geordie football club saved money by renegotiating water, gas and electricity bills and implemented the use of push taps and LED lighting with motion sensors. These energy saving hacks helped save the club £200,000 during a time they were on the brink of insolvency.

Case study 2: Forest Green Rovers created the world’s greenest football club

Forest Green Rovers are owned by energy entrepreneur Dale Vince and the club diverts 95% of its waste from landfill to recovery and recyclable use. Its stadium features solar panels which generate energy in the stadium on a match day and the club even use a solar powered robot to mow the pitch.

While installing solar panels may not be an option for all businesses, the two examples above demonstrate the energy and money savings that can be made from investing in efficient energy practices.

Below we have assembled five tips that can help your business lower energy costs and save a substantial amount of money.

1.    Assign an energy champion

Like Dale Vince at Forest Green Rovers, it can be invaluable for a company to assign an energy champion. A lot of offices assign social secretaries, fire wardens and first aid officers, energy is another field where it is worthwhile having a designated go-to person. They can hold the rest of the team accountable to the goals and methods set out in team meetings. The energy champion can also report back on the financial savings made by implementing new practices and help to keep the team motivated in striving towards its energy goals.

2.    Lighting – Replace incandescent lights and use motion sensors

This is one area Newcastle United profited from. By replacing incandescent light bulbs with LEDs a company can use 25-30% of the energy used in traditional lighting. The LED option also lasts 25 times longer. Furthermore, lighting sensors can cut wasted electricity by as much as 30%.

3.    Paper usage

This can extend from the paper in the copier to the paper in the hand towel dispenser. Both places savings can be made. Printing in black and white where possible, and using the double-sided printing function can save ink, paper, and operational energy. By switching from paper towels to hand dryers a company can save up to 90% in operation costs – as the accountants at St. James’ Park discovered.

4.    Power down policy

Being wise with computers can save vast amounts of money. For instance, laptops use 90% less energy than desktops. Powering down a computer at the end of each day and on weekends can save as much as £35 per computer. If you have 10 people in your office you can save £350 per year, if you have 30 you can save more than £1,000.

5.    Get an energy audit

Hire an external expert that can pinpoint which specific areas your business can save money. For example, at The Energy Brokers we can monitor, analyse and report energy consumption and performance. All the figures can be broken down and presented in myEnergy, a secure online portal which provides all the information you need, along with updates and advice.

Read testimonials from our clients to hear more about their experience of using myEnergy and other services.

 

Source: Saul Bush – One

Worst energy suppliers ‘getting worse’ for complaints

Figures illustrated by Citizens Advice has shown the gap between the best and worst performing energy firms has grown to the widest ever, with small energy firm Extra Energy attracting 80 times more complaints than the best performing supplier SSE in the second quarter of this year.

Whilst SSE received just 22 complaints per 100,000 customers, Extra Energy received 1,791 complaints, up from 1,682 complaints in the January to March period. Co-operative Energy and Scottish Power, the second and third worst performing suppliers on the list created by Citizens Advice, also received more complaints than in the previous three-month period. In contrast, EDF, Eon and British Gas were among the best performing firms.

The Chief Executive of Citizens Advice commented: “The latest league table shows some suppliers are getting much better at sorting out their customers’ problems, but it’s disappointing to see others getting worse at dealing with complaints.”

Extra Energy, which launched in 2014, apologised to its customers and stated it was now dealing with a higher volume of customer complaints. Ben Jones, the company’s managing director of operations said: “These figures reflect historic customer service issues that occurred during a period of time where Extra Energy saw our number of customers expand rapidly and unfortunately some of these complaints have taken longer than expected to resolve.

“We apologise unreservedly to anyone who has not received the standard of service we expect of ourselves.”

Claire Osborne, energy expert at uSwitch said: “It’s encouraging to see some suppliers stepping up their efforts to improve their processes, but it’s clear that others still have some work to do if trust is the energy industry is to be restored.

“Inaccurate bills, one of the main causes for complaints, are unfortunately much more common than we would like.”

Source: BBC

The official launch of Assured Energy

assured_logoA day to remember – The official launch of Consultus Assured Energy Limited. Sister company of The Energy Brokers Limited, we are a fully independent company, trusted by Energy users, Trade associations, Member organisations, Brokers and Suppliers