Friday, October 20, 2006

Tesco's Energy Bills

Hello There,

Hope youre well and have plenty going on.

One of the many challenges for the forthcoming Energy Saving Week - I do hope you have signed up to the commitment to save your 20% - could be to spread the word about champions of energy efficiency both in the housing sector and also industry in the UK?

Take our high street (or outlet park) superstores. I have already commented about Tesco's pioneering efforts to reduce their emissions in their UK stores by reviewing lighting, logistics and also packaging (reusing carrier bags, recycled food packaging materials).

Mr Ken Carter is the chap with a huge challenge to reduce Tesco's energy bills. His experience thus far is that strong commitment and funding is transforming the retailer's attitude to energy efficiency.

What a shame that our Government doesn't appear to show the same attitude to energy?

To quote Mr Carter, "The Board know what is going on in the energy market. Tell them once and they understand. Tell them twice and they say 'Why havent you done it?'"

With a recent report that Councils in this country have faced a massive increase in energy costs in the first six months of this year - an additional £364 million ! Since January 2005, gas prices have risen by 37%, electricity by 33% and petrol/diesel up by 9%.

Councils face a combined energy bill of £1.81 bn which equates to a rise of 25% in the last six months.

Incredible isnt it - how many Council buildings, public buildings, offices etc do you pass on your journey home or when you are out during the evenings or at weekends that have their lights on, burning away electricity? It would be slightly easier to accept if the bulbs were CFLs or the lights were motion sensitive ? The amount of times I have seen refuse trucks and Council vehicles in my town left with their engines idling whilst the workers sit in the cab or have a smoke roadside is infuriating. To make matters worse, I was passing the town centre on Wednesday evening this week and the Council has already put out the Christmas decorations and they were all switched on. I asked one of the guys if it was just to test them out and he laughed at me ?! I would like to think that perhaps it might be to coincide with Diwali but then all the display messages said "Merry Christmas".

Many of the public buildings I have been in have poor insulation or ventilation. However there are some older properties that have been renovated to good standards and incorporate renewable technologies to assist in their overall efficiency plus they are great at communicating how effective such measures can be to the communities that use them. One great example is the UCAN Centre in Halliwell Bolton. Its an old library building that has been turned into a community venue in the heart of one of the wards in the Borough. It is a vibrant place, with a welcoming atmosphere and uses a great solar PV system with a large display unit that shows the output of the system and is easy for visitors to understand. Its a great place for a meeting too !

Its all about having a social conscience - I know I talk about this a lot - but its imperative that we work hard to get the message across.

I'd like to take a huge leaf out of Ken Carter's book and challenge every Council and industry leader to be more aware of the impact of individuals and collectives. You can say that its about the impact that rising energy costs have on company profits and I would agree. However if the right spin is put on something that has a positive direct or indirect effect then why should that be viewed as a negative?

We live in a cynical society. We sometimes have a tendancy to revel in shadenfreuden - lets hope thats not the case with Mr Carter and I wish him and Tesco every success in achieving their objective of a 12% cut in its £220m energy bill in one year.

However, Mr Carter also says of the overall progress of energy efficiency in the UK, "I don't see the same leadership from our Government as I see from Tesco. We all know that we could all do a bit more. Even people in the (energy management) industry arent perfect. How many energy managers do you see getting into their high-powered Lexus?"

And I echo that with how many energy efficiency industry contractors do you see getting into their Mercedes Benz, BMW X5's. 4x4's (or other Chelsea tractors) and Porsches...? I see too many !

Hope you have enjoyed this entry - now please go forth and multiply the answers to the challenge.

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

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