Not All Energy Services Firms are Born Equal: Five Critical Check Points When Selecting a Provider
With the large number of service providers to choose from in the UK energy services market, customers can be spoiled for choice but often find it challenging to determine which providers will best meet their requirements. Verdantix finds that there are over 18 major providers in the UK – all from different backgrounds and with very different capabilities sets. This includes suppliers with very broad capabilities such as Ameresco, MITIE and Schneider Electric to specialists such as Breathe Energy and Carbon Credentials.
What are the critical questions should buyers ask before inking a deal for energy services? Verdantix recommends that potential buyers:
1. Ask about system integration capabilities. Our interviews show systems integration capabilities are a top requirement when selecting a services provider. Buyers should ask the suppliers the extent to which they are capable of implementing and bringing together disparate energy-consuming assets and control technologies such as BMSs and SCADA systems – to act as a coordinated system.
2. Understand the underlying software capabilities. Energy management software is increasingly becoming the backbone of energy services propositions– as suppliers use software to automate time-consuming processes and deliver at greater scale. Verdantix recommends that buyers probe suppliers on: what in-house software tools are used to deliver energy management propositions? What external software applications are used?
3. Ask about specialist domain expertise. Complex facilities, such as manufacturing plants or hospitals, require specialist and customizable energy services solutions. Some facilities, such as hospitals with aging HVAC, BMS and lighting, may require third-party financing and energy performance contracts to get projects off the ground. Buyers with more complex facilities should ask energy services providers to demonstrate their industry expertise and experience in working with similar firms.
4. Question the track record. Buyers should push for customer references with hard data on energy saving and business benefits. Our research found significant disparities in the ability of energy services providers to share success stories. Given the value of such collateral, we believe the inability to disclose project examples can reflect a smaller volume of deals and less experience.
5. Identify who can help get the most of the innovation in the sector. Is the energy services provider considering how to evolve its offerings in the light of new technology advances? Verdantix finds that leading energy services firms are looking to Internet of Things technologies to develop the next generation of energy management solutions to tackle a broader scope such as facilities optimization. This could enable the energy services provider to tackle a broader cost base than just energy expenditure – such as reducing maintenance costs.
To learn more about the capabilities of the 18 leading energy services providers, energy and facility managers should register for the upcoming webinar, ‘Benchmarking The UK's Energy Services Providers’ on June 16, 2016.