By Marcus Leach

Npower has reported that energy risk - particularly in terms of security of
supply and supply costs - has been identified as the top risk major business
energy users are facing, above legislation, security and health & safety.

Added to this, many believe it is the government's responsibility to help
reduce instability through funding for self generation projects and demand
management tools to bridge the supply gap and keep the nation's lights on.

These were some of the key findings of the npower Business Energy Index
(nBEI), an annual report tracking business opinion on energy use, energy
risk and carbon emissions.

According to the report, when asked what was of most concern in relation to
energy within their business, supply costs came top with a risk ranking of
6.6 out of 10, followed by security of supply with a ranking of 6.1.

However, despite an energy risk being identified as a top concern, one in
six major business energy users still do not have a policy in place to
manage it - although 91% do have one in place for health & safety, a more
‘traditional’ business risk.

David Cockshott, director of industrial and commercial markets at npower
commented: "It is worrying that while businesses have identified that risks
associated with energy - from security of supply to cost - pose a real
threat to their immediate and future operations, many have admitted to not
having a strategy in place to manage it. While many businesses have
embraced the benefits of energy management and energy efficiency, when it
comes to solutions to manage risk, there is less of a focus from
organisations.

"This could be because they don’t believe the two main areas of concern -
cost and supply - are something within their control. However, there are
ways businesses can mitigate their risk, including investing in self
generation or demand management technology."

Despite their concerns over energy risk, nearly two thirds (62%) say that
investing in self generation and demand management technology is not a
business priority. While 51% cite lack of finance as a barrier, and 38% say
they simply do not have the resource to manage the project.

When asked who should finance investment in self generation, 61% of
businesses of all sizes felt that the government should be responsible -
only 18% believe it should be self funded. While the government’s
proposed 'Green Deal' should go some way to assisting SMEs, it would not
provide the same help for larger energy consumers.

David Cockshott continued: "While this year's nBEI shows that more
easy-to-implement energy efficiency measures and improvements are happening across businesses of all sizes. When it comes to large scale self
generation projects or demand management initiatives, there is still some
resistance.

"What is clear however, is that businesses believe that investment in these
areas should come from government. While the government is keen to support smaller companies through initiatives such as the Green Deal, the report shows that larger businesses believe the government should also look at ways to help them. For instance, to mitigate risk and reduce instability through incentivising self generation and demand management tools."

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