Help with swapping energy providers

Anyone living in a block of flats is likely to be aware of the problems of energy supply to blocks of flats – and their managing agent or RMC directors will certainly be more intimately familiar with the headaches this can cause. Organisations representing those living and working in the leasehold sector, such as ARMA and the FPRA continue to work hard on improving the relationship between the utility companies and those managing energy supply for blocks of flats but it is still easy to fall foul of your supplier if you take your eye off the ball.

Energy procurement specialists Energy Renewals have, in recent years, pioneered their own solution to the problems surrounding energy management in blocks of flats. This market sector has long been viewed by suppliers and brokers/consultants as ‘difficult’ because it throws up a range of issues that are not faced by individual householders who have a direct relationship with their utility company.

One of the biggest problems is that although a managing agent may manage a portfolio of several hundred supplies, it is the individual management companies which are responsible for paying the bills.  Energy suppliers are often reluctant to deal with these companies and having met with many managing agents at the ARMA conference in October, it became apparent that many agents are facing issues with reference to placing energy contracts where management companies have a low or suppressed credit rating. Because management companies are non-trading and file dormant accounts most energy suppliers perceive these as high risk businesses – where in fact the opposite is true - and require a security deposit. If not informed otherwise, a supplier may also automatically classify a landlord supply as a ‘non-micro business’. This means they will be subject to terms and conditions that would ultimately lead them into paying higher charges for a longer period of time. Many meters are also currently paying what are known as ‘Deemed’ or ‘Out of contract charges’ (which can be up to five times the normal rate) and many blocks run into serious problems when it comes to switching supplier to find the best deal.

Another issue is that most of the major suppliers do not have systems to effectively manage energy portfolios for managing agents because they are generally low spending and each account comes in a different name. As a result, some agents choose to put the supply for blocks they manage in their own company name. So far, so good. However, this can cause problems where there is a change of managing agent because in effect the meter is still in a contract with the energy supplier and the former managing agent retains the labiality.

In addition to all this, property managers or RMC directors may not know who is their supplier  and disconnection notices and invoices are frequently sent to incorrect addresses. Dealing with an energy supplier who sends grossly over-estimated invoices for meters that are locked in cupboards and not easily accessed, can be a time consuming headache. In the words of one Property Manager, “after having an ongoing battle with one energy supplier that involved contacting my local MP for help, I am gradually losing the will to live”

Having analysed more than 100 energy portfolios containing many thousands of meters for a cross section of managing agents, it has become apparent that approximately only one in ten actively manages the supplies for the common parts of their block or blocks. The main reason for this would appear to be time – or the lack of it. 

Having worked for many of the major suppliers over the years, Energy Renewals has an intrinsic understanding of how the systems work within the different companies and the challenges faced by property managing agent/and landlords when it comes to managing multiple supplies. So we have developed an independent brokerage and consultancy business offering impartial advice to property managers and RMCs on how to reduce and manage the energy costs generated by blocks of flats. We specialise in helping multi-site clients procure and manage their energy portfolio, searching the marketplace on their behalf for products and tariffs which match their requirements for cost and customer service. It is possible that all of the supplies within a portfolio can be viewed as one overall spend giving property managers and RMCs enhanced buying power, meaning they can get a better rate and service.

Energy Renewals has a sophisticated purpose-built CRM that delivers analytical data to the managing agent showing a detailed report of the status of each meter, consumption, and supplier information which can be accessed remotely by approved users to download information for Management Company meetings.

During the last few months we have been in discussion with three of the major suppliers in an effort to convince them that management companies carry virtually no credit risk at all. as a result of these discussions two suppliers have agreed to offer blocks the services listed below for a trial period exclusively through Energy Renewals.

Energy Renewals can offer:

  • Portfolio assessment (collating information from all supplier including estimated consumption for each meter and contract end dates)
  • Alignment of contract end dates
  • Smooth transfer of supply (dealing with objections on transfer)
  • Management of any issues on your behalf as they arise
  • Online access to portfolio via Energy Renewals CRM
  • Spreadsheet billing
  • Bill validation via online portal (15% of invoices contain irregularities)
  • Regular analytic reports showing your consumptions and savings
  • Group pricing and yearly comparisons on renewal of contract

Suppliers can offer (through Energy Renewals)

  • Green Tariffs for chosen sites
  • Preferential rates
  • Quarterly/Monthly billing
  • For more information about our services please contact Energy Renewals Limited via email or go to our website (see contact details below). Energy Renewals operates under a strict code of conduct as we are a fully accredited member of the UIA (Utility intermediary association)

Ken Warner

Tel: 0844 909 9001