Power giants spot a business opportunity in compliance

Npower and EDF are rolling out programmes to help customers comply with the CRC. Alex Marshall reports

Several of the UK’s major utilities are using the carbon reduction commitment (CRC) as an opportunity to expand existing energy efficiency schemes. RWE Npower and EDF appear most advanced with full explanations of the CRC on their websites and programmes encouraging firms to install smart meters and set targets.

Others are following suit. Eon and Scottish Power plan to contact their corporate customers soon with offers to help with CRC implementation. But Scottish & Southern said: “We don’t have the business customers [to make focusing on it] worthwhile”.

David Titterton, head of business development at RWE Npower, said the firm sees the CRC as a way of “positioning ourselves ahead of competitors”, especially with smaller firms that may not be so familiar with the commitment. Offering a wide range of energy services to customers “will never replace the supply side of our business, but is of growing importance,” he added.

Last year RWE launched ‘Encompass’, a web-based tool that allows companies to analyse their energy use, benchmark it against similar firms, set reduction targets and calculate carbon emissions. It was developed partly in response to the CRC, Mr Titterton said.

RWE is also encouraging customers to install smart meters, or automatic meter reading (AMR) systems in place of all non-half hourly meters. Firms that do this will be pushed higher up the CRC’s performance league table in the scheme’s first two years. It intends to use the scheme as a stepping stone to offer firms advice on improving their energy efficiency.

EDF has taken a similar approach. “It’s quite a challenge when companies have many sites or landlord-tenant relationships or subsidiaries,” said marketing director Toby Allen.

Last year it started running half-day sessions – branded ‘Café Energy’ – explaining the CRC to businesses. So far 500 firms have attended, although this includes consultants as well as obligated organisations. The sessions will be expanded this year to look at the services EDF can offer, from energy audits to installing equipment and management systems. EDF was already talking to firms about such issues, “but clearly the CRC creates an additional incentive”.

British Gas and Scottish Power offer similar products aimed at encouraging firms to manage their energy use, including AMRs. However, the CRC is less visible on their websites.

The Carbon Reduction Commitment

A special report, sponsored by RPS(energy and environmental consultants)