LASER lights the way to I&C market

The public sector isn’t generally thought of as the most innovative or cost-effective, more a profligate, saggy affair that takes an age to make any decision. LASER Energy Buying Group […]

By Sumit Bose

The public sector isn’t generally thought of as the most innovative or cost-effective, more a profligate, saggy affair that takes an age to make any decision.

LASER Energy Buying Group intends to turn that image on its head.  The energy procurement body based in Kent is launching a new service for the Industrial and Commercial sector under its Private Sector brand, Lumina Energy, which it says will be a game-changer.

Rob Morgan, LASER’s Director of Energy told ELN the new offering would change perceptions and bring value to the market.

“We have been running our Lumina Energy service for a year now within the SME (small to medium-sized enterprise) sector but this launch into the I&C market is going to be a big shift. We have generally offered our SME customers a simple price comparison service but for the I&C sector we will offer a full range of integrated energy services spanning energy management, invoice validation, assistance with CRC, flexible procurement techniques as well as energy efficiency solutions like LED lighting Installations.”

LASER Energy Buying Group has made its name as a public procurement body for the past 25 years. It was formed in 1989 (when the electricity market deregulated) by Kent County Council (KCC) as its Energy arm but very soon started offering services to other nearby councils.

Today, the company buys energy for more than 130 councils across the south and south-east of England and has a portfolio worth 7.5 TWh. Because it has to answer to public bodies and because any profit LASER makes goes back into KCC’s central funding pot, Rob believes the new offer to the I&C sector will bring unique benefits.

“We are similar in services and skills to the brokers and consultants out there but because we don’t have a private equity owner, we put customers at the heart of what we do.  Being owned by KCC gives us a different perspective on the way we run our business and whilst we have a profit motive, we want to do things the right way,” said Rob.

And this public sector ethos is what Rob thinks will make the Lumina offering so different for I&C customers.

“What’s different about us? It’s who we are, our heritage. We buy £360m of energy so we understand the market and we look at problems from a different angle. We benchmark our performance and we have beaten the market average 11 seasons out of 12 over the past six years.”

Rob added: “We are used to dealing with public money so we need to make good decisions and be accountable and transparent, this means we will tackle things with extra rigour.”

Fair enough LASER may have an extra duty of care due to its public sector background but what about the criticism that often the public sector is behind the times when it comes to knowledge, innovation and reliability?

Rob has no problems defending his corner: “I’ve taken this role on having come from the private sector and the team I have put in place here is second to none. It’s absolutely commercially aware, we have a great relationship with suppliers and we can look them in the eye to get the best deal for our customers.

“As for knowledge I have 70 people here who have an in-depth understanding of the wholesale market, energy management systems and legislation. We deal with customers who spend over £360m a year on energy, so we definitely have the experience.

“Our challenge is that I&C is a new market for us and we need to prove ourselves. But it’s something I am confident we can do.”