If Energyst readers do one thing this financial year it could unlock a substantial energy efficiency budget, according to Alan Little, business development manager at STC.
An energy consultancy recently highlighted the ‘missing millions’ owed to businesses due to utility billing errors. Alan Little, business development manager at specialist validation firm STC, outlines how to get that money back.
“If nothing else, readers should conduct a thorough, historic utility bill audit going back six years,” says Little. “That will enable them to claim back from suppliers anything they are due.”
If businesses are not already conducting rigorous bill validation, “I think that would convince them to ensure they do it from now on,” he says, likening the situation to an energy and water equivalent to PPI. “The rebates can be substantial,” he says.
The new water retail market makes it especially important for firms to increase their vigilance, he adds.
“Typically more errors occur with a change of supplier,” says Little. “You may have been able to secure a better rate with that contract, but the risk of error with a new supplier handling your data increases.”
Little also expects teething issues from new suppliers’ billing systems, which have historically proven problematic.
The opening of the water market also coincides with the deadline for more businesses to be half hourly metered and settled under P272 regulations. Little suspects there may also be teething issues with data formatting between meter operators, data collectors and suppliers, with a knock on impact on billing accuracy.
Meanwhile, new non-commodity energy bill elements, such as the capacity market charge and Contracts for Difference, as well as incoming changes to network charges, add further complexity to the task.
Such developments increase the importance both of accurate billing and proper analysis of half-hourly consumption data so that resulting cost increases can be mitigated.
Get your money back
“There’s a lot of talk about ‘missing millions’, but not much in the way of a solution,” says Little.
“It’s complex for businesses to manually undertake proper validation. But by using specialist software and dedicated resource, businesses can show not only current bill savings, but also what they will save going forward by cutting out errors now.”
By completing a historic audit, and claiming back up to six years’ worth of inaccurate bills, the rebates can unlock additional investment in energy efficiency, further reducing bills, he adds.
“We are coming across more errors on a daily basis”, says Little. “That is money in the bank that suppliers have been sitting on.”