Rebates created culture of expectancy, not enterprise

January 14th, 2015, Published in Articles: Vector


Yolanda de Lange, Energy Training Foundation

Yolanda de Lange, Energy Training Foundation

I’ve been contemplating this issue for some time now and, at the risk of sounding controversial, it is becoming clear to me that the energy efficiency industry is suffering from an epidemic of expecting hand-outs.

Eskom Demand Side Management (DSM) and similar energy efficiency “assistance-type” programmes have, in my opinion, created a culture of expectance before initiatives are taken to implement energy efficiency projects in the majority of companies.

While creating significant awareness of energy efficiency and despite having been very successful in helping ensure that the lights stay on when we need them most, Eskom’s DSM approach has not actually created a mind-shift towards sustainability.

However, Eskom and the DSM programme did what they had to do when they had to do it. An energy service company (ESCO) and energy “expert” market soon saw the light when the utility launched its energy efficiency programmes.

Now that many DSM initiatives have been discontinued, many of these knowledgeable companies and the skills developed in this field are left virtually redundant, leaving these companies struggling to make ends meet.

With the discontinuation of some DSM programmes, industry became less keen to embark on energy efficiency projects as they no longer stand to benefit by these, other than the obvious energy savings.

ESCOs, energy consults and entrepreneurs who relied on the DSM programmes have had to become very creative in adapting their offerings to quote for jobs successfully.

We at the Energy Training Foundation (EnTF) receive enquiries on a daily basis and, lately, these enquiries pertain less to the courses we offer or to finding certified professionals for future projects, but progressively more to finding use for the training and qualifications obtained through the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE).

The energy management industry forms the backbone of the “green skills” and environmental jobs the government wishes to grow, but tenderers have to tender and quote to the bone, offering lean quotations while covering increasing expenses to keep their businesses afloat.

Is the problem not that the real benefits of energy management designed to ensure continuous energy efficiency are not the focus, but that a project-for-project approach has been adopted?

Offering the client a proper energy management plan is the only way to ensure that the project delivers what the client needs and, equally important, it earns the energy market much more credibility than the one-off project approach does.

Besides enabling South Africans to become internationally qualified as energy professionals through the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE), the EnTF is also very passionate about helping companies benefit continually from optimal energy management.

This is why we believe ISO50001:2011 is the only way to go, whether for certification purposes or for ensuring ongoing benefits from energy efficiency improvements. We offer workshops where skilled staff help companies obtain ISO50001 compliance within three days. These companies’ key staff members participate in the workshops to understand the journey to true sustainability.

This approach provides the client with enough information to make informed decisions to implement an energy management policy and plan according to a standardised approach so that maximum energy savings targets are set, met and sustained in the long-term.

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