New Birmingham office strengthens Inteb’s expanding position

Inteb Managed Services has created another new business base to strengthen its already expanding position in the national and international energy management sector.

The opening of a new office in the business centre of Birmingham follows the setting up last year of a London base in the City of Westminster.

With a head office in Birkenhead on Merseyside, Inteb now has three strategic locations to serve its initiatives throughout the whole of the UK and abroad.

This latest expansion project will also provide a platform for Inteb to create further employment opportunities in Central England.

Inteb’s team of energy managers, surveyors, utility and environmental specialists serve a wide range of the country’s leading companies in commercial real estate, health, education, leisure, IT and retail with its energy and sustainable buildings services and refurbishment solutions.

Commercial director Raja Khan explained: “Our client base is constantly growing and, as a result, our staff numbers have already doubled in the past year to service these accounts.

“With our Birmingham operation we are forecasting a greater workforce expansion, as set out in our business plan and strategic review. Coupled with this is our commitment to staff development, via Investors in People programmes in place within the company, which will provide our clients with well trained and highly skilled staff to meet their specific needs.”

He added: “Our headquarters are firmly rooted in Birkenhead but our new Birmingham office plus our base in the centre of London will enable us to provide an even better service and to look to more growth.

“Also, at all our locations we will be utilising local resources, demonstrating our support for the communities in which we operate.”

Inteb Managed Services’ Birmingham office is at Edmund House, 12-22 Newhall Street, Birmingham B3 3EW.

Ofgem warns: Prepare for tougher price controls

Ofgem has warned energy networks to prepare for tougher price controls, saying there is “strong evidence” that their investors are willing to accept lower returns.

The regulator has taken the “first steps” towards setting the price controls for the second chapter of RIIO by inviting stakeholders to give their views on how the framework should be changed.

Senior partner for networks Jonathan Brearley said: “Ofgem is working to ensure that customers pay no more than they need to for energy networks while still benefiting from improvements in reliability and service.

“That is why, in launching the new round of price controls, we are looking at what lessons we can learn to improve further the RIIO framework for consumers.

“Our stable regulatory regime appeals to investors. We believe current market evidence suggests that they may be willing to accept lower returns for regulated assets. Setting tougher controls will ensure that Britain’s energy networks deliver even better value for customers.”

Ofgem said the second period of the RIIO price controls, which will begin in 2021 for transmission and gas distribution and 2023 for electricity distribution, will also need to be more adaptable to deal with the increased uncertainty and growing pace change in the sector.

Possible Changes

In an open letter to stakeholders, Jonathan Brearley outlined a long list of areas in which the regulator is considering reforms.

He promised to explore ways of giving a “stronger voice” to end-consumers “not just in setting the price controls but also throughout the price control period”. He said network costs should be “genuinely reflective of their willingness to pay for services”.

Cost of capital has been a “key component” of network returns, he explained, and Ofgem will seek to ensure it “reflects the risks they face and remains in line with prevailing market conditions”.

The current market environment has “diverged significantly” from the projections at the time the cost of capital was determined for the current RIIO period. At the same time, investors have also been willing to buy regulated assets at “high premia”, suggesting a willingness to accept “considerably lower” yields than they currently receive.

Ofgem will review both the parameters which determine their assessment of the cost of capital and the methodology for keeping it aligned with market conditions.

Brearley accepted that Ofgem could improve the way in which it evaluates networks’ business plans when setting their spending allowances. He said the regulator wants to lay out expectations “up front” about the economic and efficient costs of running networks based on previous price control data and other benchmarking.

He said: “This would allow us to take an independent view of the likely costs the network company could incur. It would then be the network companies’ responsibility, through their business plans, to justify deviation away from this expectation.”

Ofgem will attempt to simplify the settlement process, possibly by introducing a common methodology for business plans. It will examine whether the information quality incentive and the offer of fast-tracking has been effective at encouraging networks to submit accurate costs.

The definition of the RIIO outputs will be clarified to avoid ambiguity and the delivery incentives will be reassessed to ensure they provide sufficient rewards and penalties.

The regulator will additionally consider whether the settlement periods should be aligned to encourage whole-system thinking and solutions – electricity transmission and distribution in particular – and whether the length of the price controls should be shortened to reflect greater uncertainty over the future.

Ofgem is already consulting on plans to legally separate the system operator role from National Grid and intends to introduce a new corresponding regulatory framework from April 2018.

Brearley said the regulator will look at ways of financing and incentivising the system operator going forward, including whether to establish a separate price control under the RIIO framework. He said there must be clarity on how the networks and system operator should interact and that incentives will need to be aligned to bring down whole-system costs.

The deadline for responses is September 4. The feedback will be used to inform a consultation on the structure of the RIIO framework which will be published in the first quarter of 2018.

Source: Utility Week

Vital public vote can put Inteb on top for customer service

Voting has now opened for a public vote which could see Inteb Managed Solutions take a top award for the unique way it works on behalf of its customers.

The company has been named as a finalist in the prestigious Wirral Business Awards 2017 in the Customer Service category.

This is the only category in the awards which is relying on a public vote to determine the winner.

Managing director Colin Jones said: “At Inteb we live and breathe excellent customer service – from the top of our business operation through to every member of staff.

“It is our mission to monitor good service, to take every opportunity to improve it and then ensure it is embedded in the ethos of the business by including it in every job description throughout the company.

“To be a finalist in these highly recognised awards is a great achievement for us as we see our contribution to the economic success of the region and being part of a vibrant, forward-thinking local community as integral to our business.”

To vote for Inteb in the Wirral Business Awards 2017, click here.

All winners will be announced at the awards ceremony being held at Wirral’s historic Thornton Manor on Friday, September 22.

How those lightbulb moments can save energy

The cost effectiveness of when to turn off lights depends on the type of bulb and the cost of electricity.

The type of lightbulb you use is important for several reasons. All lightbulbs have a nominal or rated operating life which is affected by how many times they are turned on and off; the more often they are switched on and off, the lower their operating life.

Incandescent lighting

Incandescent lights should be turned off whenever they are not needed because they are the least efficient type of lighting. Around 90 per cent of the energy they use is given off as heat and only about 10 per cent results in light. Turning lights off will also keep a room cooler, an extra benefit in the summer.

Halogen lighting

While halogens are more efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs, they use the same technology and are far less efficient than CFLs and LEDs. Therefore, it is best to turn these lights off whenever they are not needed.

CFL lighting

Since they are already very efficient, the cost effectiveness of turning CFLs off to conserve energy is a bit more complicated. A general rule-of-thumb is this:

  • If you will be out of a room for 15 minutes or less, leave it on.
  • If you will be out of a room for more than 15 minutes, turn it off.

The operating life of CFLs is more affected by the number of times they are switched on and off. You can generally extend the life of a CFL bulb more by switching it on and off less frequently than if you simply use it less.

It is a popularly held belief that CFLs use a lot of energy to get started and it is better not to turn them off for short periods. The amount of energy varies between manufacturers and models—however, ENERGY STAR© rated bulbs are required to endure rapid cycling for five-minute intervals to ensure that they can hold up to frequent switching. In any case, the relatively higher “inrush” current required lasts for half a cycle, or 1/120th of a second.

The amount of electricity consumed to supply the inrush current is equal to a few seconds or less of normal light operation. Turning off fluorescent lights for more than five seconds will save more energy than will be consumed in turning them back on again. Therefore, the real issue is the value of the electricity saved by turning the light off relative to the cost of changing a lightbulb. This in turn determines the shortest cost-effective period for turning off a fluorescent light.

The value of the energy saved by turning a CFL off depends on several factors:

  • The price an electric utility charges its customers depends on the customer classes”, which are typically residential, commercial, and industrial. There can be different rate schedules within each class.
  • Some utilities may charge different rates for electricity consumption during different times of the day. It generally costs more for utilities to generate power during certain periods of high demand or consumption, called peaks.
  • Some utilities can charge commercial and industrial customers more per kilowatt-hour (kWh) during peak periods than for consumption off-peak.
  • Some utilities may also charge a base rate for a certain level of consumption and higher rates for increasing blocks of consumption.
  • Often a utility adds miscellaneous service charges, a base charge, and/or taxes per billing period that could be averaged per kWh consumed, if these are not already factored into the rate.

LED lighting

The operating life of a light emitting diode (LED) is unaffected by turning it on and off. While lifetime is reduced for fluorescent lamps the more often they are switched on and off, there is no negative effect on LED lifetime. This characteristic gives LEDs several distinct advantages when it comes to operations. For example, LEDs have an advantage when used in conjunction with occupancy sensors or daylight sensors that rely on on-off operation. Also, in contrast to traditional technologies, LEDs turn on at full brightness almost instantly, with no delay.

LEDs are also largely unaffected by vibration because they do not have filaments or glass enclosures.

Major operational changes at Inteb to strengthen customer and staff focus

MAJOR operational changes have been announced by Inteb Managed Services to raise the company’s status as a high performance organisation.

Building on its priority values of seeing the care of customers and its own staff as pivotal to its success and growth, the business has now integrated its Operations under the sole directorship of Tom Kelly.

Inteb managing director Colin Jones said: “These important changes have been implemented following feedback from the most extensive customer satisfaction survey that the company has ever undertaken which will massively improve our customer engagement at all levels of the business.

“As our own people are crucial to delivering services to the highest possible standard, their welfare and development is important too and we will be putting into place recommendations from the experts at Investors in People so we can provide them with greater support and leadership.

“Our employees are without question our most precious asset and we recognise that by leading, inspiring and supporting them to achieve their goals with Inteb then their enthusiasm, passion and wanting to do better for our customers will shine through.”

In his new role, Tom now is now responsible for all divisional operations and his focus will be on improving the Inteb customer experience through new and centralised programmes of staff development and training, customer service support and engagement.

As part of this process, the company will be making contact with all its customers individually to explain the changes in more detail and to understand if any issues have been interpreted correctly and, more importantly, matters important to customers’ individual needs are being handled well.

Tom will be supported by his senior operations team which includes Bilal Leli, Natasha Edwards, Susan Stannard and Les Edwards along with Suzanne Roberts, who joins Inteb in August.

Tom said: “These are exciting times for Inteb as we move our business forward in ways that will delight our customers according to our ethos of delivering exceptional service and bring added value from our new technical leadership.”

Using the Investors in People framework as a guide, Inteb sees its practices as fundamental to the company achieving one of its major goals within the next three years – to be in the top 100 employers in the UK to work for.

The business began its journey by achieving the IIP standard in March this year and the new operational changes will be used as a springboard to achieve Silver by next March and Platinum in three years time.

Colin added: “At Inteb we are always listening and improving as we are passionate about giving something back to our customers. As a result, an exciting new programme of innovative and customer focused initiatives is currently being developed and will available to all our customers very soon.

“We have great challenges ahead and they are looking forward to getting our teeth into making a difference for the benefit of all our customers and staff.”

Inteb Managed Services in line for major business award

A major business award is within the grasp of Inteb Managed Services.

The company has been named as a finalist in the Customer Service category in the prestigious Wirral Business Awards 2017 which celebrate the enterprise, excellence and innovation of the business community.

Managing director Colin Jones said: “To be a finalist in these high recognised awards is a great achievement for us as contributing to the economic success of the region and being part of a vibrant, forward-thinking local community is integral to our business.

“At Inteb we live and breathe excellent customer service – from the top of our business operation through to every member of staff. It is our mission to monitor good service, to take every opportunity to improve it and then ensure it is embedded in the ethos of the business by including it in every job description throughout the company.

“In fact, our target this year is for all the workforce to have value-adding formal customer lifecycle/journey training and for new customer performance management roles to be created. Training will include customer service mentoring and guidance for staff to identify and nurture our own customer service champions.
“We already have a specific customer charter which is based on a vision to deliver an excellent customer experience for everyone who contacts us for services or information. It tells our customers what standard of service they should expect when dealing with Inteb and also creates a new, higher and more consistent standard of care that we strive to achieve, no matter what service or where in the country it’s being delivered.

“As soon as we identify and improve one aspect of our customer service, we constantly look for the next challenge so it’s not just a case of fixing problem areas but also maintaining and improving our competitive advantage.”

Paula Basnett, chief executive of Wirral Chamber of Commerce which organises the annual event, added: “Wirral Business Awards celebrate the fantastic work our businesses undertake in supporting Wirral’s economic prosperity.

“They ensure that the talent and success of our nominees’ achievements is recognised and quite rightly rewarded and each year I am amazed at the creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship demonstrated in the award applications we receive.”

Winners will be announced at a dinner and awards ceremony on at Wirral’s Thornton Manor on Friday, September 22.

Green fuels needed for long-term energy storage

Government and industry have been implored to “redouble” their efforts to develop green fuels for long-term energy storage to fill the gap left by fossil fuels.

Batteries, demand-side response (DSR) and interconnectors all have major limitations which mean they will unable to provide sufficient flexibility to balance the energy system by themselves, an expert from the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) has warned.

UKERC chair Keith MacLean told delegates at the Utility Week Energy Summit in London: “Batteries do have their place but, in replacing fossil fuel storage for the purposes that we’re used to having it, they are not a solution.

“We need something which is going to provide the same sort of volumes and the same of duration that we have at the moment, and at a reasonable cost.”

Highlighting the scale of the challenge, MacLean noted that the Drax power plant in Yorkshire used to have “months and months” worth of coal piled up outside.

He added: “It was virtually free storage.”

He said the amount of energy which Drax is now able to store has been “drastically reduced down to a couple of weeks’ worth of biomass” and even that has required a large investment in infrastructure. But this still appears “very cheap” when compared to the current cost of a similar volume of battery storage – £600bn.

He said modelling by UKERC and Sheffield University found that the power system would require around 15,000GWh of annual storage capacity to operate smoothly using just wind and solar for generation. By comparison, total pumped hydro storage capacity in Britain stands at just 29GWh.

He pointed out: “I’m not saying we’re going to build in a system only out of solar and only out of wind but, as we move more and more to systems that are built like that, we need to think about the challenge.”

MacLean was also wary about the move towards greater interconnection, saying: “I worry that in the interconnector debates that we’re having, there is not sufficient thought about how we join up capacity planning and management in interconnected areas. if everybody has the same needs at the same time, then the energy is not going to flow.

“One of the problems of being primarily interconnected with north west Europe is that we have very coincident supply and demand patterns.’

He was likewise concerned about the ability of demand-side response to help balance the energy system, explaining: “The more we look across the system and look at heat, not just power, the idea that we’re going to have time of use tariffs to encourage people to switch on the heating in the summer when its cheap and switch it off during the winter just doesn’t add up at all.

“We can’t simply rely on the customers sorting out everything for us. The gaps that are being left now as we move away from fossil fuel storage need to be filled. We really do need to redouble our efforts to find low-carbon fuels.”

He acknowledged there is already lots of work going on to develop low-carbon fuels – from hydrogen and biomethane to ammonia and bio-synthetic natural gas – but said the energy industry cannot afford to “sit back and wait” for them to mature.

Source: Utility Week

Sporting legend helps Inteb to a top placing in prestigious golf tournament

A team full of energy plus a celebrity player gave Inteb Managed Services a top placing at a prestigious sporting tournament.

They took fourth place at the annual Wirral Chamber of Commerce Corporate Golf Cup, a major event on the business sporting calendar.

Joining the Inteb team of company energy analyst Dan Jones and energy market clients Andy Chester and Paul Chapple was football legend Roy Evans, the former Liverpool FC player and manager.

Dan, who was team captain, said: “It was an amazing day, fantastically well organised and we all loved it. The weather wasn’t great but that didn’t stop us having a brilliant time.

“Coming fourth in the competition was a great achievement. Andy won a putting competition too and got a prize of a £200 putter.”

Inteb’s commercial director Raja Khan added: “The Wirral Chamber of Commerce Corporate Golf Cup tournament, which was held at Heswall Golf Club this year, is a big event on Wirral Chamber’s calendar and, as Chamber members, we were delighted to be supporting it.

“We were especially honoured to have such a famous sporting figure as Roy Evans as part of the Inteb team. He, our clients and our team captain Dan put on a magnificent performance to get a high placing – hopefully the main trophy will be ours next year!”

Paula Basnett, chief executive of Wirral Chamber of Commerce, said she was delighted that the Wirral Chamber Corporate Cup event had been very well supported by its member businesses and added: “It was great to see Roy Evans joining and enjoying playing with the Inteb team for this competition.

“It is important that we offer our members a range of opportunities to meet and talk, so mixing golf with business is an excellent way to encourage business-to-business links.”

Roy, who was key to Liverpool’s successes in the 70s,80s and 90s, was also guest speaker at the post tournament dinner.

Heat action plans critical to save lives

New research has shown that human-caused climate change dramatically increased the likelihood of the recent extreme heatwave across Europe that saw deadly forest fires blazing in Portugal and Spain

Much of western Europe sweltered in June, and the severe heat in England, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland was also made significantly more likely by global warming.

Such temperatures will become the norm by 2050, scientists warned, unless action is taken to rapidly cut carbon emissions.

The scientists combined temperature records and the latest observations with a series of sophisticated computer models to calculate how much the global rise in greenhouse gases has raised the odds of the soaring temperatures.

They found the heatwave that struck Portugal and Spain was 10 times more likely to have occurred due to global warming. In Portugal, 64 people died in huge forest fires while in Spain 1,500 people were forced to evacuate by forest blazes.

The intense heat was made four times more probable in central England, which endured its hottest day since 1976, and in France, the Netherlands and Switzerland, where emergency heatwave plans were triggered.

The analysis was carried out by World Weather Attribution, an international coalition of scientists that calculates the role of climate change in extreme weather events.

Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute and part of WWA, said: “We found clear and strong links between June’s record warmth and human-caused climate change.

Friederike Otto, at Oxford University and also part of WWA, added: “Heat can be deadly, especially for the very young and the elderly. This extreme event attribution analysis makes clear that European heatwaves have become more frequent and in the South of Europe at least 10 times more frequent.

“It is critical that cities work with scientists and public health experts to develop heat action plans. Climate change is impacting communities right now and these plans save lives.”

Efficient boiler contributory to saving on energy bills

Heating accounts for about 60 per cent of what you spend in a year on energy bills – so an efficient boiler makes a big difference.

Modern boilers are more efficient for several reasons but their main advantage is that they are all condensing boilers. All well-maintained boilers burn their fuel very efficiently but they inevitably lose some heat in the hot gases that escape up the flue. A condensing boiler has a larger heat exchanger so it recovers more heat, sends cooler gases up the flue and is more efficient.

Sometimes the flue gases get so cool that the water vapour in the gas condenses out, hence the name, and even more energy is recovered from the condensing vapour.

What should I consider when replacing my boiler?

If it is time to change your boiler, you need to decide what type of boiler is right for you. Here are some things to consider:

Fuel type

If you have mains gas, a gas boiler is likely to be the cheapest heating option. Fuel prices as of May 2017 suggest that oil heating is currently a cheaper option. However, historically oil heating has been more expensive.

If you don’t have a gas supply to your property, it might be worth considering a form of low carbon heating such as a heat pump or biomass. With the renewable heat incentive, these may be cheaper overall.

Alternatively you may want to get a gas connection to your property. The company that owns and operates the gas network in your area may be able to help with the cost of getting a new connection – and it may even be fully funded.

Boiler type

Most old gas and oil boilers are regular boilers that have a separate hot water cylinder to store hot water rather than providing it directly from the boiler. When you replace your boiler, you can buy a new regular boiler, and keep your hot water cylinder, or buy a combi boiler that doesn’t need a cylinder.

A regular boiler is more efficient than a combi at producing hot water in the first place but then some heat is lost from the hot water cylinder, so a combi may be more efficient overall.

Hot water usage

Organisations using lots of hot water are likely to be better off with a regular boiler whereas those using less may be better off with a combi boiler.

Space in your property

Combi boilers don’t need hot water cylinders and so require less space.

Compatibility with solar water heating

If you’re thinking of installing solar water heating, it’s worth noting that many combi boilers are not compatible with this heating system or cannot use it so effectively.