The announcement of the Energy Bill Relief Scheme by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) on 21 September 2022 has generally been welcomed by the business community. But does it go far enough asks Anthony Ainsworth, COO of npower Business Solutions?
The new scheme sets a Supported Wholesale Price of £211/MWh for electricity and £75/MWh for gas, less than a half the expected prices predicted for the 2022/23 winter period.
That said, how the scheme will be applied will depend on the type of contract you are on. While fixed contracts are relatively straightforward, those on deemed, variable and flexible tariffs will receive a per-unit discount on energy costs based on the difference between the Supported Wholesale Price and the Average Expected Wholesale Price over the period of the Scheme, up to a Maximum Discount. This has been set at £345/MWh for electricity and £91/MWh for gas.
However, businesses will only receive assistance for six months. This is concerning considering that, according to our recently published Business Energy Tracker report, 77% of UK’s large organisations consider energy their top business risk. While BEIS said it is planning to review the scheme in three months and assess the need for further support after March 2023 – paying special attention to what it considers ‘vulnerable businesses’ – there is some concern about what happens next.
That is why there is a need for a longer-term vision. The Energy Bill Relief Scheme, which we wholeheartedly support, does not offer a holistic view of energy that takes into account organisations’ requirements to reduce emissions and increase efficiency.
We have long campaigned for more support for businesses to enable them to reduce their overall energy consumption, whether this is through targeted initiatives or by extending schemes that provide tax breaks for installing more efficient equipment.
While short-term support is undoubtedly needed, we can’t afford to lose sight of the long-term net zero goal. For now though, npower Business Solutions will be working closely with our customers and BEIS to implement these immediate measures.
We recently hosted a webinar on The Energy Bill Relief Scheme, where our expert panel answered key questions on how it will work in practice. You can watch on demand here.