NNoSS – National Network of Special Schools Workshop Q&As
‘The Energy Crisis…. What is happening and what does it mean for school budgets?’
Zenergi was pleased to exhibit at the NNoSS Conference which took place on Thursday 28 April at Nottingham Forest Football Club. Following the event, we also co-hosted a workshop on Thursday 12 May, titled ‘The Energy Crisis…. What is happening and what does it mean for school budgets?’, with Zen energy expert Bryan McCourt, and head of strategic partnerships, Tim Golding.
We discussed a host of hot topics around world events affecting energy prices, disappearing suppliers and what options you have to help facilitate budget planning and of course, energy efficiency measures! It prompted lots of listener questions which we have summarised here.
Q. If I have an energy contract due to end in December 2024, should I renegotiate now or wait to see what happens?
A. It’s worth keeping an eye on the market but as you can generally only agree on a new contract roughly 12 months in advance of the proposed start date, there isn’t a need to do much else at this stage.
Q. I’m a Zenergi customer and I’ve been informed about a “Buying Group” by one of your colleagues. They suggested an acceptable length of a new contract is 24 months. Why, at this point, would it be beneficial to tie in for 24 months? What are the benefits of the buying group over a bespoke basis?
A. At present 24-month prices are cheaper than the short term 12-month proposals given that the current impacts on the market are focused on the short term. With various market predictions suggesting that prices won’t be reducing significantly between now and the end of 2023 at the earliest, we feel that the 24-month prices represent best value at this time whilst allowing the appropriate time for the market to settle and for this to be benefited from at the appropriate time. With short term volatility expected to continue, this strategy also helps to remove this uncertainty from budgets, etc.
Q. The buying group letter of authority asks me to provide a realistic % increase – please can you explain why?
A. This is to help us understand us to understand your parameters and to ensure we don’t exceed them. Not only does it provide a level of comfort for you, but also enables us to communicate, if it occurs, and see if the agreed figure can’t be achieved via the buying group.
Q. I work in two different special schools, however, they are both co-located with mainstream schools. As such, we have limited control over our utilities as the bills go to the other schools and we then pay a proportion. How can I get better control of this aspect of the school budget? Is it possible to get split meters or is this cost-prohibitive?
A. If part of a mainstream school and contracted under this entity, then it wouldn’t be possible to split out the contract. The usage is coded across the entire site rather than being split between the mainstream school and the special school. Having sub meters installed would enable accurate re-coding of the usage at each premise, but in this scenario, there would be a cost involved. Please feel free to contact us for a quote.
The other option would be to install your own meters at the special school. However, this would be costly but would enable the procurement of the special schools’ contracts to be done independently.
Q. One of my schools has solar panels installed, how can I check if we are receiving a credit flow to our bills?
A. Solar panels are entirely separate from the energy supplier and therefore, a different account than you have for the electricity consumed from the grid. Therefore, you will not see this displayed on the monthly bills but should get some communication from the FIT supplier each quarter. The FIT supplier would remunerate the school for the electricity generated and used through the solar panels. Depending on the financing model used for the solar panels could, however, alter this even further, so further detail would be required for us to provide further assistance.
Q. What options are available to schools to assist with lowering their energy consumption that are budget friendly?
A. This changes from site to site, but an energy audit would give the best and clearest indication, looking at the short, medium and long term opportunities for energy saving.
Q. We are unable to check our water meter as it is in the middle of the road and is a 2 man lift manhole cover, so we cannot check that the readings we are being charged are accurate. How can we change this?
A. You would need to make contact with your water supplier so they can see if the meter can be relocated and advise of the timescales, etc. We can help with this!
Q. We have had a buying group proposal with an eye-watering 322% increase for gas that’s due in October. I have no idea whether to reject this (more than the 100% increase I agreed to) and wait in the hope of a better proposal, or go for it – how can I make that informed decision when talking about such huge increases?
A. This should be discussed with your Zenergi relationship manager. However, this increase is unfortunately akin to what we have been seeing in 2022. We would therefore suggest that this won’t drastically change between now and October.
Q. We are looking at energy costings for our school with a renewal from 1 October 2022. Can you help?
A. We would be delighted to assist with this. We simply require a Letter of Authority (LoA) and a copy of the last bill received (per meter and for each utility – electricity/ gas/ water) to be able to provide a comparison. Please ask Bryan or the team for a quote here.
Q. My school’s electricity contract is due for renewal in March 2023 – should I be looking for a new contract now?
A. It is possible to agree new contracts 12 months in advance of the proposed start date. We would therefore recommend, at the very least, obtaining some current market prices to allow visibility of the forward impact on your budgets and allowing some time for this to be considered before any commitments are made.
Q. Will be you contacting schools to discuss what needs to be budgeted with the market increases?
A. If you are in an existing contract managed through Zenergi, you will be contacted at an appropriate time by your relationship manager to discuss your options. If you aren’t yet a Zenergi customer and would like us to take a look at your contract renewals, please contact us for a quote.
Q. We are a PFI (private finance initiative) school and have very old boilers which need to be replaced. What are the most cost effective heating systems for schools?
A. As several factors need to be considered, we would recommend having an energy audit carried out to understand the best and most suitable solution for your site, along with some energy efficiency recommendations. Contact us to find out more about energy audits.
If we haven’t answered your question here, please get in touch today and see how zenergi can help with your energy and water needs.