Will the EA have the teeth to enforce ESOS?

As the deadline for compliance with the Government’s Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) looms ever closer, it appears that less than 2% of qualifying organisations have actually notified the Environment Agency of their compliance. At this rate it seems likely that the vast majority of companies will struggle to comply by 5 December, even with the anticipated late surge. The Agency has sent reminder notices to 14,000 businesses.

Posted on 15 September 2015.

Failure to comply could result in immediate fines of up to £50,000 with this rising for continued non-compliance.  Will the prospect of heavy fines for non-compliant companies galvanise the laggards into action?  And if not, will the EA have the teeth (and the resources) to enforce them?  In a recent article in The Energyst, Head of the Energy Managers Association (EMA), Lord Redesdale, suggested it was questionable whether the Environment Agency “actually has a budget for enforcing it”.  However, he said companies that did not conduct the audit and act upon on its findings would only be wasting their own profits.  Redesdale added that if a late surge materialises “capacity and quality issues” would arise from an assessment perspective.  I agree completely with Lord Redesdale on all these points – he has said out loud what many of us have been thinking.It seems, however, that the low number of notifications to the EA is not down to a lack of volition or engagement on the part of the participating organisations.  At a recent meeting of ESTA (Energy Services and Technology Association) members there was general consensus from those present that the single biggest challenge to the completion of ESOS audits is the ability of those organisations to collate and provide the necessary data. 

It is still shocking to me that there are so many organisations that do not know how much energy they use and how much it costs.  In the words of British mathematical physicist and engineer Lord Kelvin, “If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it."

What this does show however, is what a great opportunity is out there waiting to be grasped and, at the very least, ESOS will have served to point a very large finger at some fundamental inadequacies in energy management and to raise awareness at board level of the need to do better!