13 July 2000 | David Arminas
The Environment Agency has agreed it's first region-wide electricity contract for sub-100kW annual consumption - and gone all green.
The agency was previously supplied at various local consumer rates. The new agreement unifies all of its small electricity users across the region.
The annual savings of more than 5 per cent that were hoped for in any new deal have been exceeded, according to Amanda Hadgkiss, the agency's senior procurement officer, contracts. The estimated savings will be around £100,000 a year for the three-year deal, she said.
Initially, the agency was looking to set up an agreement for only its heaviest users in the sub-100kW category, such as offices, depots and larger pumping stations. But it realised that it was worth including the smaller users, such as canal stations and lock offices, in the contract.
The agency started investigating the possibility of the regional deal last November and found that the biggest problem was finding accurate consumption information from within the organisation, acknowledged Hadgkiss.
That meant discovering which member of staff had the billing history for each site. "We narrowed it down to about 40 people," she said.
All of the agency's 250 sites in the Midlands will now be served by Scottish and Southern Electricity, a switch from Yorkshire, Manweb and Emeb (PowerGen). "There were issues about the billing process and that's where a lot of utilities companies fell down," added Hadgkiss. "Scottish and Southern was able to accommodate our billing requirements."
The agency is now considering aggregating its buying power in its seven other regions, starting with the north-west.
The decision to use green energy was partly to set an example as a leading public body committed to the government's Kyoto summit pledge to reduce greenhouse gases, explained Hadgkiss.
Another reason was the belief that an exemption from the climate change levy, due to take effect next April, would be likely in the new year. "Now we are not so sure about this," said Hadgkiss. "There's a lot of debate in the political arena about which sources will be exempt."
She added that even if the agency's sources are not granted an exemption: "I think we will still be getting a good price and still make a saving."
There was no real problem in locating the green energy, according to Hadgkiss. It will involve renewable power from waste water and wind.
Some buyers report that they have shunned using renewable energy because of confused signals from the government and suppliers about which sources will be made exempt from the climate change levy.