Only 1% of companies affected by the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) have filed audits with just over 10 weeks to the deadline.
The Environment Agency revealed under a Freedom of Information request that just 150 of more than 14,000 firms required by ESOS to submit energy audits had done so. The new figure is a tiny improvement on the figure of 32 firms having complied by end of May.
When that figure was announced, the Environment Agency’s project manager Jo Scully advised then that all affected companies should accelerate their compliance processes.
At the time, Ms Scully said that the Agency had sent out ESOS letters to 14,000 companies as well as running workshops, publishing a regular newsletter and offering guidance through the website and dedicated helpdesk.
It’s crucial to understand that the scheme requires all affected companies to appoint external lead assessors and, given the low numbers of those qualified to do this, the time to act is now.
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Ms Scully repeated the Agency’s practical responses when questioned about the most recent surprising data on low compliance, adding that another letter is scheduled for mailing next month along with an email campaign to remind businesses with fewer than 500 employees.
“The feedback we have received from businesses shows that awareness of the scheme has risen but organisations still have work to do in order to comply.”
The scheme covers companies with at least 250 employee or with an annual turnover over €50 million and a balance sheet in excess of €43 million. Although most public sector organisations are excluded, universities and others could be tasked with producing ESOS audits.
Under the scheme, launched in July last year, companies have to carry out energy audits every four years and submit these to the Agency. The audits will cover buildings, industrial processes and transport to identify cost-effective, energy saving measures.
The good news from the Agency is that ESOS should deliver energy efficiency savings of £1.9 billion over the next 15 years. But that still leaves the considerable challenge of compliance this year.
With less than three months to the deadline, there are serious concerns that qualified assessors who must carry out the audits are in short supply, leading to an inevitable bottleneck in the run-up to December.
Companies that fail to comply with ESOS face fines of £50,000 and a rolling penalty of £800 daily up to 80 days. All businesses have to cover audit costs – estimated in total at around £165 million.
The Freedom of Information request was made by management firm Veolia.
Read our full information on ESOS