The global energy market is complex, sometimes volatile and, as many have experienced in the current environment, is ever changing. This can result in businesses being exposed to considerable shifts in energy prices and a consequent significant financial impact on their bottom line.
It is increasingly difficult for Energy Managers to remain well informed and knowledgeable about all the elements that are impacting energy prices. In an ideal world as an energy user, you would like to be in a position to dedicate more time to procuring energy at optimum prices and drive new energy related incentives across your organisation that would see your costs, usage and carbon footprint reduce. Sadly however, as we have seen this year, it is far from an ideal world we live in.
With time a scarce commodity and given the limited detailed energy knowledge in some cases, many companies see employing an energy consultant as the best way to drive costs down. The role of the energy consultant is to provide completely unbiased support, to help you understand the complexities of the energy market a little better and to manage a procurement process that should see you achieve the best value possible from energy prices.
Bearing in mind that we are currently living in anything but an ideal world, here are some “top tips” on how best to choose an energy consultant, energy partner or energy supplier to deliver on your business needs in a fair, professional and unbiased way.
Choosing an Energy Consultant
Firstly, if you’re looking to employ an energy consultant for the first time for you and your business, talk to someone who already employs one and remember references are a key step in making any decision.
Some advisable questions to ask yourself (on behalf of the business), your potential consultant and any referees you may be given before engaging any third party or supplier:
- Will engaging a consultant deliver savings and what evidence or case studies are available to back this up?
- Is there transparency and are there any hidden charges or tariffs?
- Is there value for money i.e. consultants fee vs. tangible savings from an energy supplier?
- Does the consultant have any allegiance / partnership / commission arrangements with other suppliers? Note: if any consultant says they will “work for free“, you should see that as a red flag on this point.
- Who pays the consultants – you, the energy supplier or both?
- Has the consultant given your current supplier fair evaluation? Note: Ensure you are copied on all correspondence from the consultant to energy suppliers; from experience, not all suppliers are treated equally and there may be some “preferred suppliers” who may have their information presented more favourably compared to others.
- Will your consultant engage all licensed suppliers in the market?
- Research a marketplace where consultants are long established, the UK for example. Has it been a success for participants, why and for who?
Choosing an Energy Supplier
Firstly, make sure you know what you want and what you need. Suppliers offer a wide range of product options which can be confusing.
- Is price a consideration? If so, remember the saying “buy cheap, pay twice”. With the right supplier, there are numerous ways to achieve the best price. Commodity rates are just the tip of the iceberg; there are many more ways to reduce costs and save money beneath the surface of the water.
- Do you want to work with your supplier to get a tailored approach? Suppliers can offer you a default buying plan, set a tariff and send you an invoice each month without much effort; however, you can be smart and discuss your business needs by tailoring an approach to meet those needs with the right supplier that will make a difference for you and your business.
Remember, it is not just buying energy. Ireland has come a long way since the energy market became fully deregulated. End users are spoiled for choice, so it is worth looking into the ‘value adds’ or ‘unique selling points’ suppliers have to offer.
When choosing an energy supplier, or indeed when discussing with a consultant what you want from the supplier, it is really important to make sure the supplier you chose can deliver a number of the options below. It is these services that will make a positive impact on your business.
- Dedicated account management
- Short, medium and long-term procurement strategy
- Capacity management and transport costs – this makes up a substantial portion of your bill
- Information services – informed buyers buy best
- Training – can a supplier help you build a team of energy super-heroes?
- Energy efficiency – will the supplier help you use less?
- Renewable focus and roadmap that suits your sustainability goals
- Reporting requirements – bespoke reports as well as understanding your carbon emission commitments and reporting
Finding the right energy partner can have a very significant and material impact on your business. They will work with you like a trusted colleague to help you understand the market dynamics so that you make the best possible choices for your business.
Contact the team and learn how we can help you meet your energy needs: email@example.com; + 353 1 884 9400.