Taking control of energy efficiency

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Outside the energy industry, there’s often confusion about the best approach to take when it comes to managing energy use. Recognising this, the Energy Efficiency Council (EEC) has developed a guide for businesses navigating the sometimes tricky waters of energy efficiency and optimisation. We caught up with EEC Chief Executive Officer Luke Menzel to learn a bit more. 

Luke-Menzel

Luke Menzel, EEC Chief Executive Officer

There is an enormous amount of information on energy in the public domain, and it can be hard for business leaders to cut through noise and work out what matters for their organisation.

Now, they have a new resource: an informative, accessible and up-to-date briefing that will help them manage risks – and capture opportunities – as Australia’s energy system transforms.

In August 2018, the Energy Efficiency Council (EEC) published Navigating a dynamic energy landscape: A briefing for Australian businesses. The energy briefing is a first-of-its-kind resource for directors and senior executives without a background in energy.

Luke Menzel, CEO of the Energy Efficiency Council, talks about why every business should read the energy briefing.

How did the idea for Navigating a dynamic energy landscape come about?

Over the course of 2017, at the height of Australia’s “energy crisis”, we started being approached by all kinds of entities for support. Businesses, governments and industry associations were all struggling to get their heads around what was occurring in the energy space, why their bills were going up so dramatically, and what they could do to deal with those challenges.

As we dug into what was driving this new interest, we heard a common story: directors and senior executives were recognising that energy was an increasingly strategic and material issue for their business, but if they didn’t have a background in energy, their conversations were driven by what was happening in the news. However, if they went looking for more information, they quickly came up against 300-page reports from organisations like AEMO – long, technical documents that just weren’t presenting information in a way that was useful for a business looking to recalibrate its energy strategy.

We realised then that there was a gap in the market, and a need for something that stepped businesses through why their bills had changed so dramatically, something that gave them a sense of what the outlook was, both in terms of gas and electricity prices, something that explained the underlying drivers for energy market transformation, and something that showed them what they could do about it – whether it was switching to renewables or managing energy.

The EEC is focused on how demand side strategies can solve problems for businesses. Does the energy briefing suggest that efficiency is the best energy strategy for business?

The EEC and its members have a deep interest in the role of demand-side solutions in solving problems for business. We believe that demand-side solutions are underrepresented in energy strategies for business, and we are focused on raising the profile of energy efficiency opportunities.

However, from the perspective of business, the important thing is finding solutions to problems, regardless of whether those solutions are demand- or supply-side, or whether they are switching to renewables or improving energy efficiency or using demand management.

The energy briefing takes a step back; it doesn’t push an energy efficiency agenda in particular. It orients businesses in the energy landscape to give them a sense of what’s driving the transformation and all the different options they have for taking control of their energy position. So it looks at all the different energy options that businesses have, and gives them the agency to choose what mix of measures makes sense for them and their particular circumstances.

Energy-Briefing-Aug-2018---coverBesides the fact that it’s an easily accessible document at just 32 pages, what makes the energy briefing different to the resources that are already out there?

It tells the whole energy story. There are lots of documents and news articles out there that tell pieces of the story, but what this briefing does – for the first time – is step Australian businesses through the different trends that are coming together to drive changes in the strategic significance of energy for them. Bottom line: the briefing gives business an integrated story of what is going on in the energy sector.

What can someone already working in the energy industry gain from reading the energy briefing?

There is a great challenge across the energy sector as we move into this more dynamic energy landscape. Non-experts are having to get across a very complex technical area that has material consequences for their business. What we’ve done is create a tool for energy experts to use in their conversations with non-experts so that we can raise the sophistication around the energy conversation across the economy.

The briefing has been created as a resource for senior executives and directors. How can these people best make use of the information and analysis to create change in their organisations?

Boards and senior executives will want to assure themselves that their management team is across the full range of options they have to take control of their energy position. The ‘Pulse Check’ is good place to start – it’s a distillation of the questions that businesses that are already leaders on energy strategy have asked themselves internally.

What do you think people would find most surprising or unexpected from reading the briefing?

It is probably going to be a while before we get back to very cheap, very stable energy prices. There may be a world in which we achieve that down the track, but for the short- to medium-term, we’re facing a unit cost for both electricity and gas which is substantially higher than historic lows.

It’s really important that businesses get their heads around this reality and act accordingly: they need to be on the front foot and actively monitor the energy space to make sure that they are across the range of options they have to take control of their energy position.

What is the most important lesson or bit of information that you want readers to take away from the energy briefing? 

We have the technology to keep Aussie businesses competitive as our energy system transforms. The trends and technologies that are driving the energy market transformation are the same ones that they can take leverage to thrive. And businesses that are already leaders in energy strategy are showing how it is done.

Navigating a dynamic energy landscape: A briefing for Australian businesses is free to download and share. Go to www.energybriefing.org.au to get your copy and other resources from the Energy Efficiency Council.

The Energy Efficiency Council is Australia’s peak body for energy efficiency, energy management and demand response. The Council is a not-for-profit membership association that exists to make sensible, cost-effective energy efficiency measures standard practice across the Australian economy. The Council works on behalf of its members to promote stable government policy, provide clear information to energy users and drive the quality of energy efficiency products and services.

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