Amar Hussain is a managing director of utility management specialist Kinect Energy Group. In this article, he discusses why

business owners and decision makers in the facilities management sector should be wary of upcoming changes to energy legislation, which could drive energy charges up, how to guard against increases and even save money.

During my time in the industry, I have seen businesses, large and small, across a range of sectors, either achieve savings on their energy bills, guard against charges or just become more energy efficient. But, invariably, it is those sectors and organisations consuming the most power who have the most at stake, which is why utility management specialists are often so keen to work with operators within the facilities management sector. And there’s plenty that businesses in the

sector need to be aware of. For example, from April of this year, businesses could face much heavier penalties if they exceed their allocated energy capacity, following the introduction of the DCP161 legislation. Prior to this, businesses going over their allocation would be charged for over-use at their standard rate, but from now on if you exceed the capacity, the cost will be far greater. It varies from region to region and can

depend on your Distribution Network Operator (DNO), but it could be around 70% higher in some instances, or even double the standard price. This will particularly affect facilities that are operating on a half-hourly meter. If you aren’t sure what your capacity is

then it’s vital that you gain an understanding of this, as over-use could have a crippling financial impact, with little notice. DCP161 is just one example of legislative

changes that can have a heavy impact on energy prices, and it is wise to keep abreast of energy industry news where you can. But it’s not all about avoiding charges. In

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today’s complex and competitive energy market, there are plenty of opportunities to save money, by having charges that aren’t applicable cancelled or securing refunds against previous instances of over-charging. A qualified, diligent energy broker can add

huge value to your facility’s bottom line and save you from possible hassles with your energy supplier further down the line, so it’s worth investing time to find the right energy broker for your business.

Here are some things to consider when choosing the right broker:

• It’s important, when new brokers are entering the market all the time, to choose a company with experience and a proven reputation. They should be well established and run by a team who have expertise in the market. The organisation should come with a growing and satisfied client list, backed by testimonials.

• Find out how many energy suppliers the broker is connected to and what commission they get from them. The more supplier partnerships the broker has with the ‘Big 6’ and smaller energy providers, the better, and remember that an independent broker is more likely to maximise sales, instead of negotiating the best deal, if they’re being paid by a supplier.

• Good brokers will be signed up to the Utilities Intermediaries Association (UIA) – the main trade body for energy brokers which aims to improve the professional image of the sector.

• Good brokers strive to get the best deals for their clients. Visit their website to

check if they claim to offer a ‘transparent’ approach. They shouldn’t hide costs and should provide a clear breakdown of their fees separated from charges made by suppliers.

• They should also offer you the choice to pay a direct fee or add a surcharge to the supplier’s charge.

• They will identify where you can reduce your facility’s energy or power usage and how to increase your energy efficiency, while offering a broad range of services. This suggests a good understanding of the market, and an ability to meet all your needs.

• If you’re looking to reduce your facility’s carbon footprint, choose a broker that understands the renewables market.

• Look for a broker that offers a comprehensive energy audit and one that will take time to understand your business model and your energy targets. This will ensure you have a robust procurement strategy in place.

Finally, you should also make sure that

the broker will monitor your situation even after you’ve signed up with a supplier, so you can take advantage of market conditions. Check if they offer regular face-to-face and telephone contact. Good brokers often appoint a dedicated account manager to look after each client. Kinect Energy was formerly Orchard

Energy. During the rebrand process, you can learn

more about the services Kinect Energy provides at

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