For the thousands of firms still struggling to comply with ESOS, we are here to help
Despite recent estimates that 3,000 firms have yet to comply with ESOS, all is most definitely not lost. Our approved Lead Assessors are still working with clients to help them cross the ESOS finish line and avoid enforcement action.
The facts on January 29 and ESOS compliance
The Environment Agency’s (EA) official line on ESOS, and its approaching January target is as follows:
If you missed the (5th December) deadline and still have work to do before you will be compliant, use this online form to explain why you missed the compliance deadline and when you expect to be able to comply.
Late companies have been given a window of time to submit before enforcement action kicks in, which “will not normally be taken provided notification of compliance is received by January 29, 2016”.
Any firms not compliant by the end of January will be reviewed; they may hear from the regulator regarding enforcement action.
What advice is there for non-compliant firms?
*At EMEX London 2016, EA ESOS Project Manager Jo Scully gave insights into the EA’s expectations and approach on late compliance. These form the foundations of how worried firms must respond this month.
“The EA has used its discretion to not apply enforcement action in recognition of the bottleneck,” she commented. “The EA’s approach will be to only serve penalties in the most serious cases, preferring to serve enforcement notices.
Most importantly, Scully is on record as saying: “Companies need to tell the EA when they expect to comply, and to be honest about it.
“Don’t just say 29th Jan! If you really won’t be ready by then, give a realistic date and explain the reasons why. It will help your case when it comes to enforcement action, circumstances will be taken into account.”
Whilst there’s no certainty, this can likely be taken as a tacit hint that honesty, coupled with effort, will win leniency from the regulator.
What to do…
Every non-compliant firm must consider today, with urgency and transparency, how it will inform the EA of its position, and prove its good intentions to comply.
1) Do not panic; ask for help instead
At this stage, many firms should enlist the help of an external ESOS Lead Assessor to comply. ESOS is complex; using the services of an external auditing firm frees up internal resources, and may well help convince the EA the assessment is being done correctly.
Moreover, when time to comply is short, external assessors can offer concrete deadlines to come in, carry out the audit and file the paperwork. External assessors as a whole will be crucial in carrying the UK towards overall compliance in 2016.
2) It is never too late
There is no value whatsoever in burying your head in the sand, or attempting to escape the radar. The EA will catch up with non-compliant firms, but remember it has indicated it prefers not to use punitive measures.
Firms must therefore take advantage of this. They should stand up bravely, firmly and clearly describing the challenges they face and the compliance solutions and external service providers they will use.
3) Detail plans to embed your audit results to the EA
Carrying out the audit is the only compulsory aspect of ESOS. But, failing to embed the money saving measures within misses out on valuable financial and operational benefits.
In the rush to comply, firms must remember, the ESOS journey is ongoing. The audit is just the start of building energy efficiency UK-wide. By detailing plans on actually making the audit recommendations, you can prove to the EA you will take steps to embed efficiency, potentially winning favour. Delivering real world efficiencies is after all the purpose of the entire process.
At Concept Energy we have a number of approved Lead Assessors and we can help your business achieve compliance. We can also help with implementing energy saving recommendations post-audit. Please contact us to discuss how we can help, or with any questions you have on ESOS compliance.
*Jo Scully’s comments have been paraphrased in this article for clarity.