Newsletter – January 2018
Welcome to our quarterly energy and water market review, complete with legal updates and company news.
2017 proved to be an incredibly successful year for the Monarch Partnership. We welcomed 61 new clients, alongside our subsidiary company Welcome Energy, ensuring that we entered 2018 at the top of our game. We made £15 million in savings for clients last year, and have saved over £115 million since 2006.
Notable commercial clients which we took on in 2017 include a large London department store, as well as a nationwide chain of restaurants. This is in addition to 18 housing associations, 9 schools, and 20 industrial and commercial properties. The wide variety of clients catered for in 2017 is a testament to the expertise and experience of our dedicated staff, an ever-expanding team serving an extensive range of organisations. Yet it could not have been done without the customers, so a big thank you has to go to them also.
Our desire to continue to provide top-level service within the utilities industry saw us put an even sharper focus on sustainable development solutions in 2017. We now work with clients to set sustainability targets, and then provide reports monitoring progress towards these goals. Our commitment to improving our own environmental performance and Corporate Social Responsibility will be further highlighted by our forthcoming Sustainability Month in March and recent accreditation and Associate Partnership with The Planet Mark™. Raising awareness for environmentally-friendly, long-term energy solutions and resource efficiency amongst our client base – and within the utilities industry itself – demonstrates that we are committed to a greener, more sustainable future. 2018 will allow the company to focus on this area further with a lot of interesting developments to come.
The recent addition of Welcome Energy is also an exciting advancement for Monarch. Welcome offers clients – typically housing associations and property management companies – a tenant billing service, simplifying the bill paying process through a combined billing and metering package. Welcome’s focus on tenant billing has benefited our current housing association clients, as we are able to draw upon Welcome’s extensive knowledge in this area.
2017 was Monarch’s busiest year to date, setting the company up for more success, growth, and client savings this year – and in years to come.
An introduction to our new tenant billing services
It wasn’t until we exhibited at Homes 2017 that we realised just how much demand there is for tenant billing services. Our team were in unanimous agreement that it was the most inquired about topic over the two days we were there. And it all makes sense. With tightening legislation, the need to incentivise energy efficiency, and in the interests of fair, proportionate billing, the need for sub-metering services is more pressing than ever. This is why we have welcomed ‘Welcome Energy’, specialists in compliant, accurate tenant billing, as the latest addition to the Monarch Group.
Why use a tenant billing service?
Firstly, any heat supplier, be it through a district heat network, or a communal heating system, has to comply with the Heat Metering and Billing Regulations 2014. Furthermore, an update to the regulations is planned for this year, which will revise the methodology for assessing the cost effectiveness of metering for district and communal heat networks.
This requires the provider to notify the National Measurement Office (NMO) and provide detailed information for each network they operate. They must also have meters installed for each final customer within a building, and ensure clear, accurate and transparent billing of these customers, with a detailed breakdown of the charges.
Compliance is a legal requirement so there is no getting around this, and for this reason, tenant billing services and companies are on the rise. Such companies manage all aspects of the billing process, including all the necessary compliance, with detailed breakdowns. This saves a lot of time and effort for landlords and housing associations, who can instead focus that time on other areas of their business, safe in the knowledge they have a team of specialists in charge of all their billing needs.
To keep up with demand, Monarch have acquired Welcome Energy, a unique tenant billing company who manage the entire process, from beginning to end. With over 30 years of combined experience, Welcome’s holistic approach to tenant billing includes ensuring all the necessary compliance to the regulations, tariff setting, Automatic Meter Reading, installations, audits, and the entire credit control process from sending the bills directly to tenants to debt recovery and the distribution of overdue letters.
Welcome offer a smooth, turn-key service. Their team is readily contactable and on hand to help you with any queries or issues you may have, using their collective wealth of experience.
Read more about tenant billing and Welcome Energy on their website here.
Evolving our energy services
As a natural progression of our core utilities and energy services, we are kicking off 2018 with the introduction of a specialist sustainability service team to help new and existing clients reduce their environmental impacts, enhance resource efficiency and promote sustainable development throughout their business practices.
Our focus is to ensure that each customer obtains and uses the financial, environmental and social benefits made available through improved sustainability measures. We guide organisations to go beyond basic compliance to become industry-leaders in their approach to climate change, waste reduction and fuel poverty. We produce a plan for concrete actions and metrics in a way that is accessible to all members of staff to act upon. The success of our sustainability services is demonstrated by quantifiable and concrete reductions in financial expenditure, CO2 and waste.
Specialist services for your industry
All of our services are tailored to the specific requirements of both private companies and public-sector organisations, such as Housing Associations, Local Authorities and NHS Trusts. We can easily adapt our sustainability solution and services to suit all budgets and priorities.
Our in-house energy, water, waste and sustainability consultants use industry-leading insight across sectors to carry out projects covering all environmental impacts facing our customer base, including:
- Energy and Carbon
- Transport and Travel
- Waste and Recycling Management
- Transport and Travel
- Climate Change Adaption
- Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Sustainability Reporting
- Social Value
A selection of our most in demand services, include:
Creation and implementation of bespoke environmental policies with associated Management and Action Plans in order to reduce emissions and increase resource efficiency. Specialist strategies include Sustainable Travel Plans, Climate Change Adaption Plans and Sustainable and Ethical Procurement Policies.
Carbon footprinting and analysis:
Detailed breakdown of carbon emissions resulting from energy consumption and business operations, with associated carbon reduction strategy and verified certification.
Utility monitoring and targeting:
Tracking of the daily consumption of electricity, gas and water to understand usage patterns, identify peak usage times, pinpoint high-users, under-performing sites and areas of wasted energy.
Full management and technical advice regarding legislative responsibilities and reporting requirements, including: ESOS, Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC), CHP Quality Assurance (CHPQA) and Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs).
Workshops and engagement:
Delivery of training sessions focusing on key staff and tenant issues, such as fuel poverty and behaviour change. Establishment of Green Champion Networks and communications to drive energy efficiency and sustainability projects.
Current sustainability projects
Our sustainability service team is currently providing consultancy and project management services to a wide range of customers across various industries. We have recently embarked upon an Energy Monitoring and Targeting programme with a leading high street restaurant chain, and are working with multiple Housing Associations to produce their Sustainable Development Management Plans (SDMPs).
In addition, we have recently become an Associate Partner of The Planet Mark™, in association with the Eden Project, an internationally-recognised, trusted sustainability certification programme recognising commitment to continuous improvement in sustainability and carbon reduction. We are due to be certified ourselves later this month, and will subsequently have the ability to certify others.
Take a look at our Sustainability brochure for more info.
Start your sustainability journey…
Contact our Sustainability Manager today for a free consultation on sustainability opportunities for your organisation. firstname.lastname@example.org
The Grenfell Tower fire
Of all the ongoing housing stories that ran through 2017, the Grenfell fire undoubtedly eclipsed them all. It’s obvious to all that since that day last June, housing standards were thrust under the microscope. Where previously the act of simply building more homes was the main priority, the safety of those homes has now become a more pressing focus. Housing had been given an emotional injection where once it had grown austere.
More power to be granted to Local Authorities
In our office, in meetings with customers, and as part of the Who’s Who in Local Authorities judging panel, we often found ourselves discussing the benefits of devolving power from central government to local authorities. This is an ongoing theme that runs through our own articles and those we have collected from other sources. Our own blog post ‘Humans in Storage’ talks about the dehumanisation of the housing market and how this is connected to a gulf between local communities and those with the spending power.
The Autumn budget
Notable inclusions for housing, energy, and sustainability were:
Removal of stamp duty for homes worth up to £300,000
Removal of stamp duty for first £300,000 of homes worth up to £500,000
Intention to build 300,000 new homes each year
£15.3bn of financial support for house building over next 5 years
More upfront support for Universal Credit
£220m to be put into Clean Air Fund for areas with the highest pollution
Funding for electric vehicles
New controls on low-carbon spending
Maintaining a Total Carbon Tax at current levels
Affordable warmth and fuel poverty
Houses of lower income can struggle to provide themselves with affordable warmth, particularly during the winter months. Achieving the government health guidance recommended an indoor temperature of 18°C is not as straightforward as people may think. For this reason, there are steps that one can take to maximise energy efficiency in the home, which is something we ourselves have researched and produced material on. Our Affordable Warmth guide provides useful information on this.
Council of the week
As part of our campaign to highlight the good work being done by councils within the housing sector up and down the country, we began last year choosing a ‘Council of the Week’ every Monday, in order to spread great ideas and celebrate innovation. This is something we will continue to do throughout 2018.
We will also continue to follow all the latest housing news stories in 2018 and post selected articles on our Twitter and LinkedIn feeds, as well as generating content of our own on our website. Stay tuned!
Follow us on social media to keep up to date with all of our housing news, plus more.
Be equipped, and the savings will follow.
From April 1st Ofgem are issuing a change to the way Distribution Use of System (DUoS) charges are calculated. These are non-energy charges that appear on your utility bills. This means If some or all of your sites use Half Hourly meters you will need to monitor your usage more closely and rethink how and when you use energy to avoid the biggest charges.
The aim of DCP228 is to even out the three time bands (Green, Amber, and Red) that represent energy demand, so that peak periods and non-peak periods are not quite so polarized. The bad news is that the majority of businesses will see a rise in energy costs, due to the increase of the Green and Amber bands. The good news is that with proper energy monitoring and targeting you can navigate the system in a way which offsets these extra charges.
How we can help?
Our Smart Asset Management service, will help tidy up your asset register to ensure you are only paying for the meters you are responsible for, and that your data is accurate and up to date. This kind of monitoring will have extra importance as the DCP228 comes into force. Luckily it is not too late to prepare. Here is what we can do to prepare your business:
- Obtain the last 12 months HH data for each supply
- Create a profile for each site to understand the consumption used in the new Red, Amber, and Green periods
- Discuss which sites could load shift outside the Red/Amber/Green periods. This may require us to do a site survey to identify where energy is being used and any business-critical systems which cannot be affected
- Create an action plan to reduce energy consumption during Red/Amber/Green periods and KPI’s accordingly
- Report on load shifting performance
You can use the time you have between now and April to clean up your asset register and prepare it for the DCP228, so that you’re not hit with a load of charges you aren’t expecting. Don’t leave it too late, be prepared, and the savings will follow.
Whilst we focus our attention this year on sustainable energy, there is a big haze of fog that cloaks the energy sector, and that is the ever looming, ever-evolving Brexit negotiations. It is not so much a barrier preventing progress, but a threat of uncertainty pressuring organisations into defensive or protective strategies.
The uncertainty stems from the variety of possible outcomes. One decisive revision will be whether or not the UK continues its membership of the Internal Energy Market (IEM). The IEM manages trading through interconnectors, which reduces costs and improves energy efficiency. It also gives the UK access to cheaper energy when prices are high in the domestic market. The UK is heavily reliant upon its membership with the IEM, given that a third of its energy comes from imports, therefore leaving it could have negative effects on the UK market.
According to Predictions by Vivid Economics, exclusion from the IEM could have an impact of 500m per year for the UK by the 2020s.
If the UK were to leave the IEM, the only hope for its energy sector would be by devising bilateral arrangements with its European neighbours. Failing that, the UK will be cast completely adrift, and without cross-border trading, the lack of competition will drive up prices and stifle innovation.
A more straightforward reason for the turbulence is that higher returns of investment are necessary to offset the risk of adverse post-Brexit arrangements. This creates a situation where an upward pressure on financing raises the cost of infrastructure investment. Even minor increases of this kind could cause big problems, given that there is a large amount of infrastructure investment already planned for the electricity sector.
It is impossible to say at this stage exactly what will happen, but it’s a widely held view that gas has a minimal risk due to the UK’s domestic production and connections to the LNG market. Electricity is at risk due to the increasing investment required to combat the uncertainty.
Despite the difficulties and threats to sustainability and innovation, one saving grace is that more reliance may be placed on offshore wind, which is one of the few industries that the UK still dominate globally and, most importantly, is sustainable. Sustainable practices within organisations, if implemented soon, will help to make them more Brexit-proof. Whilst the situation is still speculative at this point, there is still scope for security within the energy sector, as long as all ties are not severed, the UK plays to its strengths, and energy efficiency is placed higher in the pecking order.
Learn more about our sustainability services