Tony Gilroy, md of meat firm Kookaburra, told the meeting that his firm had saved tens of thousands of pounds after signing a deal with energy demand management firm the KiWi Power Company.
“We were offered a deal whereby we were given £3,000 to switch off non-essential power equipment for one hour,” said Gilroy. “We can be asked to switch the power off for a maximum of 10 times a year. But, since signing the deal six months ago, we have not been asked to switch off once.”
But, Gilroy decided to try switching off non-essential equipment for a trial period despite not being asked to do so. The following week, after the firm’s finance director noted a significant reduction in kilowatt hours energy consumption, Gilroy decided to formalise power reductions.
“Now, we switch off certain power applications, such as vacuum pumps used for waste handling, twice a week.
“I’m now saving £400 a week and this is being paid for by the National Grid,” said Gilroy.
David Williams, md of bakery firm Butt Foods, reported that reviewing his firm’s energy policy had lead the firm to save more than £1,000 a month.
“Five years ago, we did not take much notice of energy costs but all that has changed,” said Williams.
“We have five mini compressors and have set four to trip out when a target temperature is reached. That has leaded us to save £1,000 just on one blast freezer.”
Meawhile, KiWi Power claimed that its energy reduction agreements help achieve more than just lower energy bills.
KiWi’s principal energy engineer Jerome Taylor-Lewis told FoodManufacture.co.uk that in addition to lower energy bills, KiWi works with commercial clients to shrink their carbon footprint at no upfront cost and offers benchmarking information on energy use.
“Savings of £20,000 per megawatt of energy use are realistic for medium-sized businesses,” said Taylor-Lewis.
Some larger businesses have make savings of up to £100,000 a year.
An energy aggregator, KiWi acts as an intermediary between private firms and the National Grid. It focuses on non-essential power, such as air handling and lighting, and uses existing on-site generation. Operations are never affected and no cost is charged for consultancy work, said the firm.
About 10% of the UK's electricity capacity comes from peaking power stations. At present, peaking power is used during less than 1% of any year but supply problems are expected to become worse – particularly during key events such as the Olympics.
In October, engineering manufacturers’ organisation EEF confirmed that the energy prices paid by UK firms were 10% higher than those of their German competitors.
That gap is forecast to rise to 15% by 2013 when the government introduces the unilateral Carbon Price Floor.
Barclays’ Bank commented in its Manufacturing Weekly Newsletter: “The figures will increase pressure on Whitehall over how to protect British firms from the full burden of energy and climate change policies.”