John Guthrie, Area Manager Product AC Drives, ABB writes: Do you trust your electricity supplier to keep prices as low as possible? Perhaps you do but a growing number of MPs certainly don’t. A revealing survey by Ipsos MORI showed that 73 percent of MPs don’t trust electricity suppliers to offer genuine competition in electricity supply. This figure is up from 54 percent in 2009.
This puts the lie to the theory that one of the best ways to cut electricity bills is to switch supplier. In an ABB sponsored survey, 30 percent of manufacturers thought the most effective way would be to change electricity supplier - yet, whatever deals the suppliers offer, surely energy prices can generally only rise, as does the price of everything else? In 2004, the cost of electricity paid by medium size manufacturing industry in the UK was £22 per MWh. By 2012, this had risen to around £70.
According to one major UK energy supplier, business energy bills are increasingly at risk from extra costs including payments for government subsidies. These costs can only be passed on to the user.
Another aspect is the difference between costs and investments – the former we can’t control but the latter we most certainly can. We must pay the cost of the electricity we use but we can cut it significantly by investing in energy efficient equipment. Like money in the bank, these investments keep on giving, cutting costs year after year.
When it comes to trusting people with an influence on the total cost we pay for electricity, perhaps industrial power users should place it in those who help them realise these investments. Vendors of energy efficient equipment have a vested interest in helping cut energy use – the more efficient their equipment is, the more a user can save and the more the vendor sells. I have seen many users buy one variable-speed drive and be so impressed with what they are saving that they immediately go looking for other ways to use drives in their plant.
So, who will you trust? Companies that make money by increasing your costs or those that make money by cutting them? I know which option I’d choose.