Transistions – SME or Contestable Energy Strategies

Energy procurement is significantly different in 2014 than previously. The models for success require a multifaceted theme for the energy procurement process this time around.  What is different is you must manage and arranged the information for what you see as the product, and have them – the energy retailer/supplier, evaluate whether they want to participate.  The critical success factor is no longer ‘did you get the best price’, it is ‘did you get enough participants to respond with a good price and adequately market test your result’. It was so much easier when performance was as simple as input becomes output = price paid, and outcome was the accountant is happy.

Some of you reading this may not understand that the original idea of being contestable was to adequately market test and as the market matured the real cost of generation and supply would settle at the economic point of being sustainable. This point may disappoint those that are building reputations on driving prices down, and that the market is doing as it is expected to do – show maturity of the design.

So, it is time to move on and change the model of the market? Wintelboff and CO2Land org are seeing the Australian Electricity Market and the rules are in itself bringing about change, and there is further evidence most participants in the market are not prepared for the changes. Most of the difficulties are not the will to change by the participants, but more likely to be the extent of the systems required and needed to bring about the change.

Consider that it is now clearly the market is in two different tranches, and when you last went to market the electricity market described itself as contestable down to 160MWh pa consumption, and then below that effectively you were termed domestic and regulated at a set price or reset by regulatory pricing structures and determinations. It was also much easier when you could use the meter type as the rule for whether you contested on price or sought a discount on your tariff with the incumbent retailers. The incumbent was usually your network company and default retailer.

This time around you are either on an agreed price to pay for energy as a contract rate above the threshold of 160MWh pa or seek a discount on tariff set by regulation under the rules of as a small business enterprise (called SME) from 100MWh pa. In the latter a retailer licenced to sell energy might offer aggregation of sites to a contestable size or elect to do nothing other than offer tariff rates.

Another assumption that can be dangerous is to assume as a contestable site the retailer/supplier has an association with the network service provider/utility that will work to your benefit. Changes from within the system in all likelihood  means we can no longer ring our loyal and trusted friend and say can we fix this on one side of the ring-fenced entity or the other and have the problem resolved to mutual satisfaction.  It is now a detailed process. To get a result usually you need to address what they call the asset on a project basis, and computer says yes for you to proceed. If you have previously watched the TV series ‘Little Britain’ you will understand that statement rings very true.

Pursuing sustainable outcomes too brings new awareness, and innovation and the introduction of technology would be assessed according to the business case. Where you are showing success at getting a good price for your energy it can undermine the business case for the sustainable outcome. Especially where carbon pricing is needed to level the playing field. If you have been following that approach you will be seeing with the Feed In Tariffs (FIT) and other incentives being distorted as a political whim that only brings uncertainty to the project, and uncertainty has a cost.

On the point of whims, carbon continues to be a problematic area and the federal Energy Reduction Fund (ERF) is still very much without detail other than a benchmark carbon price will be set by government as government dictates and that price can change when the government decides to do so at its whim. The assumption to be made is that either you or those that you invite onto your agreement might be liable entities under that rules and impact your outcomes.

If we are attempting to bridge the needs of Energy as strategic, tactical and operational, and we describe this as Energy Management, Transition Strategies, and Savings – the need for individual assessment is more important than ever before. Yet, most competitive services are tending to be web based and call centres. This is hardly adequate when you desire to be an energy efficiency centre.  That sort of work requires a fuller understanding of the needs, other than a checklist and dubious interpretation of guidelines according to the level of training or programing of the robot. As a sustainable approach it is likely changes to the energy needs over the life of the agreement is being sought, and that is more than price.  Another way of looking at that point is in medical practice the prognosis will be accessed as preventative (price gained now) or diagnostic (what is the best course of action). A good example can be taken as: You want to introduce solar technology, and you need to know what penalties are written in the contract and will a standard form contract be sufficient to cover this off sufficiently well. LED is another very interesting technology as it can negate the need for conventional building management systems entirely, and that could have long-term upstream effects on current contracts and relationships for tenants and landlords and building managers.

We must take into consideration the balance in terms of energy supply and demand, and the responses must relate to multiples of price, network and security, and even emergency responses. The later because increasing in frequency is disaster.





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