Guest blog: Mervyn Bowden on Osborne’s spaghetti western of a budget

I’m a big fan of Clint Eastwood and so donning a sombrero and chewing on a cheroot, here’s my take on yesterday’s shoot out. The Good George Osborne has come […]

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By Sumit Bose

I’m a big fan of Clint Eastwood and so donning a sombrero and chewing on a cheroot, here’s my take on yesterday’s shoot out.

The Good

George Osborne has come up with a budget which cannot upset too many Conservative voters in its content. Setting out to improve efficiency and actually having listened to a “consultation”, in deciding to abolish the bureaucratic Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) and replace it with the industry’s choice of increased Climate Change Levy rates, with a bit of tweaking around carbon values, has sent the right signals in response to the stated desire originally to simplify both the taxation and incentivisation sides of commercial energy management.

One would hope that the time consumed in number crunching for CRC administration as a client responsibility will be released for more productive efforts to reduce consumption.

Perhaps there is more to come on this front. More is certainly required to encourage training of future professionals in the energy sector in this country.

Efforts to encourage pragmatic efficiency are to be congratulated!

The Bad

Unfortunately, nothing particularly to encourage end users to rush out and recruit, or train, an energy manager, if they haven’t got one or have joined the trend of down-sizing the role or indeed getting rid of it completely. Short-termism has gone too far!

There are lead-times to producing skilled professionals and when the oil price, and associated energy prices, start to rise steeply demand will outstrip supply.

For me, a few good examples of pragmatism and common sense, supported by the wider industry, do not begin to make up for many years of abjectly poor energy policy on the part of successive governments both on the supply and demand sides of the equation.

The Ugly

For me the ugliest part of the Budget was the “rabbit in headlights” warning of going for a Brexit.

A complete contradiction by, on the one hand seeming to advocate efficiency in policy and, on the other, endorsing remaining in the EU – these are almost complete opposites (depending on your opinion of course).

Why?

Well, aside of some trading and socio-economic benefits the EU is palpably a vast expensive and non-functional bureaucracy which spews out restrictive regulation and legislation at an alarming rate, strangling efficiency, innovation and common sense in the process.

Decision-making is protracted and, in some subject areas, making it completely impossible to achieve concensus from all its member states.

Probably the last example of efficiency you would ever quote to anyone!

It makes you wonder why the Government is so desperately worried about the UK population voting for an exit?

Could it be that it will expose all the poor UK Government decisions over recent years and many key decisions not taken at all over electricity generation and delivery to end users nationally?

Consider the sale of critical installations to EU-owned companies and the lack of national control. The list is endless and the current incumbents, regardless of their efforts, will cop for all the blame.

My 8 things you can do about it all

All company directors and those in authority elsewhere, can actually do a lot to help themselves over what is likely to be a very problematic next few years as far as energy in the UK is concerned, not least the supply/demand balance next winter.

Here’s what I think you should be doing;

  1. Making sure you have a robust energy risk management plan.
  2. Having the right level of expertise and training available.
  3. Reducing energy consumption to a minimum at all times.
  4. Ensuring energy consciousness is part of all that you and those you work with, do!
  5. Ensuring energy use is intelligently automated, monitored and managed
  6. Not leaving energy efficiency to the landlord or others – it’s down to you!
  7. Being hugely informed about energy prices, technologies, the Good, Bad & Ugly in the supply base, value for money, sourcing the right buildings, water efficiency………
  8. Insulate your company, as far as you can, from external factors

That’s it, so get on your energy efficiency horse and get going!

Mervyn Bowden is the Managing Director of Inituitive Energy Solutions