Jaz Rabadia is Energy Manager at Debenhams, a leading international multichannel retailer operating in more than 160 stores in the UK and Ireland. As an Energy Buyer of the Year candidate at this December’s Energy Awards, she shares some tips on utilising supplier intelligence.
Getting the best out of your supplier
Being an energy manager can be a demanding job, especially if you’re a one-person team like me. That’s why taking a proactive approach to your relationship with your energy supplier is a great way to expand the resources you have available to help you achieve more.
Working with npower, I see their experts in forecasting, risk management, legislation, compliance and so on as an extension of my team. So rather than trying to do lots of complicated and time-consuming research or calculations myself, I draw on the excellent knowledge available and utilise it.
Share information to get better support
Of course, this works both ways. I aim to give npower as much detailed data about the Debenhams portfolio as I can, as your supplier can only be as good as the information you give them.
But with the figures I provide on variables such as different store opening and closing times, maintenance work and energy efficiency programmes, npower’s Pricing and Forecasting team is able to provide detailed breakdowns and forecasts of our energy spend – from one year to five years in advance.
This is enormously helpful, as with environmental taxes set to contribute to a doubling of energy bills by 2020, it’s never been more critical to know what your costs are – and also the impact of energy efficiency measures, as this helps to build a much stronger case when you are looking to your board for investment.
Track consumption for effective management
Volume optimisation is another key concern, as no-one wants to be penalised for breaking volume tolerance thresholds. But with around 170 stores and an ever-changing programme of refits, extensions and upgrades, keeping track of energy use can be challenging.
That’s why we’re working with npower to feed all our hour-hourly data into a single online energy monitoring system (Encompass), and also upgrading all our non-half-hourly meters to automated meter reading (AMR) technology, so I can get a complete picture of each individual store as well as our entire estate.
This visibility is important for truly effective energy management, as no matter how small you may think some non-half-hourly meters are, they can all add up to a sizeable volume. So knowing exactly what’s being used and where is important for pinpointing potential savings.
Put portfolio optimisation on the radar
I also recommend sharing as much information on your future plans as you can. For example, if we are doing an extension to a site that may require a new supply or supply upgrade, letting npower know puts it on their agenda as well as mine.
This also feeds into portfolio optimisation, where your supplier can help you review your estate and see where separate meters may no longer be appropriate for a site, for example, or whether volume capacity continues to be appropriate.
Ultimately, I think a partnership approach yields the best results, and not just with your energy supplier, but with any of the specialist services you may use in your role as an energy manager.