SMEs Facing Up To Energy Efficiency

01 Jun 2006Archived News Energetics in the News

PUBLISHED: Ethical Investor Magazine. By Tony Cooper, Managing Director, Energetics Pty Ltd. 

Contact Energy generates nearly 30 per cent of New Zealand's electricity and supplies electricity and gas to over half a million customers across New Zealand. With global energy prices increasing, Contact recognised the need to help small to medium-sized business customers cut their energy costs through improved energy efficiency.

Contact partnered with the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority of New Zealand (EECA) and Energetics (Australia's leading energy, greenhouse and sustainability consultancy) to launch Energy Challenger, a program delivered through Contact's website. The program, developed by Energetics, provides each business with a prioritised action plan and opportunities to cut their energy consumption through running a more energy-efficient business.

Tony Cooper, Managing Director of Energetics, said, "Energetics is pleased with the opportunities that Energy Challenger is providing to industry and energy / water retailers surrounding energy and resource management. The tool is enabling customers to quickly quantify a range of strategic business initiatives in a simplistic way to achieve outstanding savings and results."

Energy Challenger targets customers that spend $50,000 - $500,000 per year on energy. It helps customers to quickly self-assess and prioritise their energy needs online. In less than 10 minutes customers receive:

  • An immediate report and action plan for improved energy efficiency; including management and technical solutions;
  • Online links to third party providers of energy efficiency products and services;
  • A benchmarking report of their energy consumption against industry peers; and
  • Opportunities to revisit the site to track improvements and update energy efficiency action plans.

Contact Energy's Sales and Marketing Manager, Cory Franklin, said, "Energy Challenger is a cost-effective way for Contact to deliver tangible value to its business customers. Many of the energy efficiency recommendations contained in the Energy Challenger site are low or no cost, yet have the potential to save our customers a great deal financially," he said. "As energy becomes increasingly valuable, it makes sense to conserve and manage it wisely. It's great to have a simple, effective tool in Energy Challenger that helps make that goal much more achievable for small to medium-sized businesses."

Through Energy Challenger, Contact Energy has experienced positive customer feedback. Neil Macdonald, Manufacturing Manager of Pacific Wallcoverings, said "Energy Challenger is an excellent management tool. It showed us we are managing our energy consumption well but, because of the depth of advice it offers, we got some further suggestions to improve efficiency."

As a result of using Energy Challenger, Pacific Wallcoverings has incorporated energy efficiency into its purchasing policy, so all buyers for the company now use energy efficiency as a buying determinant.

Another of Contact Energy's business customers, Fresh Choice, Greymouth (NZ), has reduced its energy costs by 30 per cent - saving approximately $60,000 per annum through the use of Energy Challenger. Significantly, the supermarket's savings were achieved with no capital investment, but through implementing recommended actions from their Energy Challenger report, including; reducing lighting levels, modifying air conditioning timers, rescheduling the start up of ovens and other equipment to reduce peak demand, adjusting air conditioning set points to avoid over-cooling in summer and over warming in winter, and keeping roller doors closed in air conditioned spaces and inwards goods areas.

As Chris Ward, Owner / Operator of Greymouth Fresh Choice, said: "Energy Challenger did literally challenge us to review our power management practices. It showed us where we needed to improve and gave us simple practical steps to reduce our energy costs. We were heading for an energy bill of over $200,000 had we carried on as we were. The best part about the recommendations was that we didn't need to purchase any new equipment."

With potential to deliver savings of this magnitude, Energy Challenger has been well used by Contact Energy's customers. The energy utility has experienced a pleasing 12 per cent uptake of Energy Challenger from the targeted audience within the first two months of program launch. More than 80 per cent of customers that entered the Energy Challenger site followed the process to receive an energy management report and action plan.

Energy Challenger has also helped Contact maximise the efficiency of its on-line presence and given the company a valuable customer retention tool through the opportunity to deliver real value to customers. Contact Energy has also gained access to useful information about their customers needs, helping them to design better products and tailored energy solutions and services.

Above all, Energy Challenger fits into Contact's strategic vision of promoting energy efficiency across its entire customer base. With strong campaigns already in place to target residential customers and one-on-one support for its large customers, Energy Challenger has provided Contact with a service that is a winning solution for small to medium-sized businesses.

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