"The CCA deadline is fast-approaching, and firms in areas as different as baking and meat processing need to think seriously about getting involved."
Mark Duffy, head of mid-market energy
Independent businesses across the North West are missing out on thousands in savings because they don’t fully commit to green energy programmes.
That’s according to Bolton-based comparison service Love Energy Savings, who say hundreds of small firms are ignoring their environmental impact.
And they’re now being urged to urged to participate before it’s too late.
Voluntary Climate Change Agreements (CCAs) aim to reduce consumption and the carbon footprint of businesses - the Environment Agency cut-off for new participants is October 31 2018.
But Love Energy Savings warns that the amount of paperwork involved means most third-party firms will need applications by July 31 this year.
And they say that bakeries have been particularly slow to take advantage when even the smallest of business will have energy-guzzling industrial ovens on site.
The Environment Agency’s current scheme started in 2013 and was launched to help the Government reach GHG reduction targets and allow large energy users to reduce the cost of the Climate Change Levy (CCL) on bills.
Running until March 2023, the programme could cut the CCL on electricity by 90 per cent, and by 65 per cent on other fuels.
These discounts are set to increase to 93 per cent for electricity and 78 per cent for gas from April 2019.
Mark Duffy, head of mid-market energy, from Love Energy Savings said: “Ensuring you are registered to the CCA programme is easy and important for businesses in many sectors of the food industry, regardless of their size.
“Yet it is still something many forget.
“The deadline is fast-approaching, and firms in areas as different as baking and meat processing need to think seriously about getting involved.
“CCAs can be essential to driving energy efficiency improvements and will result in significant cost savings - on top of the 90 or 65 percent reduction it allows in CCL.
“It will also help reduce CO2 emissions, preparing for a greener and more efficient future while staying abreast of legislation.
“The CCA energy saving programme is measured by factory targets or total energy use, which will have efficiency improvements applied to them.
“Each of these target periods lasts two years and must be met in order to keep receiving the CCL discount.
“These are always a series of different steps aimed at promoting efficiency in the baking industry and can be set over four target periods.
“For example, the goal could be a 10 per cent reduction in carbon emissions at the first milestone, then a reduction of five per cent at each of the three milestones after that.”
He added: “There are certain sectors where there is less uptake than others. Bakeries in particular have been slow.
“Yet compared to other areas, the industry is very energy intensive and can be easily exempt from CCL through comparatively short applications.
“Signing up has particularly important ramifications for people working in the industry and for the environment. Even some of the smallest premises will have huge energy-guzzling industrial ovens.
“This programme is open even to the smallest of businesses, so it’s not just the baking giants that are deemed to have a negative effect on the environment.
“But the rules are the same for any organisation that wants to save money, energy and the environment.”
Signing up for a CCA is seen as an agreement that a business will measure and report its energy usage and carbon emissions over four two-year periods.
Only businesses that meet their targets are permitted to continue with the scheme and the reduced CCL.
Baking processes eligible to take part in the CCA scheme are facilities that produce “bread, morning goods, flour confectionery and savoury products from animal and vegetable raw materials” through traditional bakery skills.
That is rather than “industrial-type” baking processes.
The qualifying facilities may be a bakery serving more than one retail outlet, or a ‘scratch’ bakery that makes products for no other outlet.
Any energy used in non-eligible processes may be included using a 70/30 rule - that is if non-eligible energy only accounts for 30 per cent of that used on site.