More renewable power? Great. But how does my business actually get it?
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More renewable power? Great. But how does my business actually get it?

Generating renewable and lower carbon energy is a vital step towards a cleaner, more sustainable future. Making it easier for customers to get it must come next, says Jonathan Kini, Chief Executive, Drax Retail.

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For many years the electricity market has been dominated by a small number of big suppliers, but that’s changing.

Left unchallenged this has had significant consequences for smaller business customers. Levels of contractual complexity and inflexibility have left SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) feeling it’s impossible to manage energy consumption or to achieve the value they’d like.

In fact, when it comes to electricity supply, it feels like they pretty much have to do what they’re told.

Research commissioned by Haven Power has found that UK SMEs are so unhappy with this situation and their existing energy suppliers that more than half want to switch providers. It also discovered that a large majority feel their current supplier should be more committed to renewable energy.

We agree and think they deserve another option. An energy supplier that listens, that understands their approach to sustainability and that can deliver the renewable energy they want at scale.

Haven Power – recently named ‘Supplier of the Year’ at the 2016 Energy Awards – has always had a different attitude. We have been able to supply renewable energy, generated within the group at Drax Power Station, on a limited scale. But we stand ready to do more with Drax Group’s pending acquisition of Opus Energy.

I’m looking forward to welcoming Opus Energy into the Drax family, once our shareholders have approved the deal [Note: Opus Energy joined Drax Group on 10th February, 2017, when the acquisition was completed]. Opus Energy is the largest non-domestic UK energy company outside the Big Six and, because of this, we will soon be in a position to give many more SMEs access to the kind of energy they want, along with higher levels of choice, service and value. Who better to supply renewable energy than those with expertise in its generation?

The need for more sustainable solutions

Haven Power’s report found more than 70% of small businesses want their energy supplier to be more committed to renewables. Incredibly, no more than 11% actually believe their supplier already is.

With over 5 million SMEs in the UK, there’s a significant demand for renewable energy in the UK. Until now there hasn’t been a company capable of meeting this demand. That’s changed.

The majority of Haven Power’s contracts are in the large industrial and commercial market. The number of our SME customers is relatively small. However Opus Energy has significant expertise and is a strong presence in this sector. It’s the sixth largest business power supplier by meters in the UK, delivering nearly 5 TWh (terawatt hours) of electricity a year to its customers supported by a team of 800 employees and working from three locations across the UK.

Opus Energy brings with it some additional services. It is a substantial gas supplier and has the capability to provide a route-to-market for any renewable electricity produced by SME customers that they don’t need or can’t use themselves.

The two businesses complement each other and together are best placed to deliver smart solutions to the vast number of SMEs in the UK calling for more renewable and lower carbon energy.


Simple, straightforward, renewable

Most SME owners are extremely time poor with a very broad spread of responsibilities – all of them pressing. Although important, especially if they want it to be renewable, energy supply is unlikely to get much of their attention. Far too frequently, energy is just confusing and unnecessarily complex: multiple tariffs and billing offer little clarity. The agenda is set by the supplier; seldom by the customer. For the most part, SMEs just want an energy supplier that can satisfy their particular energy needs and preferences simply, intelligently and accurately.

Together, Opus Energy and Haven Power will be able to do this. Existing Opus Energy customers will be able to switch to 100% renewable power – they currently benefit from an electricity supply that’s certified as 96% renewable. Existing Haven Power customers will have access to dual fuel tariffs. And once we’ve satisfied our mutual customers’ supply needs, we can start working with them to become more energy efficient and to use less power.

Above all, we want our customers to be able to make better and more informed choices. Not only because that’s what they want, but also because it means renewable power and the way it is used will become a real part of the UK’s energy future.

Think of the energy market the way you think of household waste

Why does this make sense? Well, think of your rubbish. Or rather, think back to your rubbish a decade ago.

Ten years ago everything – paper, plastic or glass– ended up in one bin and it all went to the same place. Until, that is, it was realised that to make daily recycling a more realistic proposition, it needed to be simple and easy: so councils set about providing better facilities and services from bins to collection. Now, when we throw away our rubbish, we sort it and separate it. What once seemed too difficult and over-complicated isn’t any more. Now recycling and its contribution to greater sustainability is second nature.

We believe there needs to be a similar approach and attitude in energy supply. Of course, all energy supply should be easy and straightforward – especially renewable energy. It might have been difficult and complicated in the past but it certainly isn’t now.

We want to inspire change so that energy becomes part of a bigger sustainability agenda: it’s not just about the kind of energy used, it’s also about the way energy is used. Just as it is with recycling, we want to make sustainability in energy second nature.

Welcoming the reach and wide expertise of Opus Energy into the Drax Group and creating new focus for Haven Power are the next steps to achieving this.