More and more businesses are using energy consultants or brokers with the aim of driving down utility costs. My career journey has involved working for both a broker and now for BCC as a consultant. As highlighted below, the differences are significant!

From Broker to BCC

Independent vs. Broker

For over 22 years BCC have been building relationships based on their reputation with all energy suppliers, and they do not receive any commissions from them. Energy brokers, on the other hand, operate on a commission basis, frequently working with only a few suppliers who are offering them the best commission rates. This often has an adverse financial impact on client contracts, as the suppliers offering the cheapest energy or water costs may not be on the small list of suppliers used by brokers.

 

Pricing

Energy brokers include the commission paid by suppliers into the unit rate per kWh. This increases client energy costs and reduces the potential savings that the client could receive. Regularly advertised as a “free service”, the commission or “uplift” will never be disclosed in an energy contract to clients.

BCC charges a fee for services, which begins with procuring the best contract independently for clients and managing all aspects of their utilities moving forward. Transparency is the cornerstone of the service provided. By going out to the whole market, not just a few favoured suppliers, BCC will always get the best prices available in the gas, electricity or water markets.

 

Client Journey – what happens next?

Energy brokers are paid by suppliers for securing the contract and some brokers even charge extra fees on top for additional services, which are provided by consultants at no extra cost. After signing your contract with a broker, very often your next chat with them will be when your contract is due for renewal. BCC is paid a fee by the client who, in return, expects a good service.

At BCC, procuring a client’s energy contract is the start of the journey. Our team also manage bills on behalf of our clients and resolve disputes with suppliers. That saves clients a great deal of time and often results in rebates. BCC monitor energy markets and advise clients when there are significant drops in market prices. Brokers tend to simply wait until the energy contracts are due for renewal and then put the contracts out to tender. If the markets are high, their clients have to pay a high price for energy. Shopping around at a fixed time point will typically show that the difference between the highest price and the lowest price for energy is 1% to 2%. However, by alerting clients to significant drops in energy markets, we can save them 10% to 40%.

Historically, clients waste a great deal of time dealing with queries on their utility bills. Our Client Service Advisors identify billing errors and resolve disputes on behalf of our clients – so they can devote their time to more important matters within their organisation.

 

Project Management & Additional Services

Consultants such as BCC also work with clients to reduce energy consumption. One recent example involved a visit to a client and a recommendation to switch to LED lighting, which resulted in a swift decrease in electricity costs of about 85%.

BCC are problem-solving experts; our case studies show the work we do in identifying issues and providing a solution.

Energy brokers are compensated by suppliers and will rarely go the extra mile to provide additional services. If they do help with other services they will charge extra fees. Normally that is 50% of the savings achieved. BCC make no additional charges for such services. We consider them to be part of the job we do to support clients.

 

Ethical Approach

Energy consultants and brokers are both prominent in the utility management industry. Often businesses struggle to distinguish between the two.

The differences provided above portray the value of transparency and independent advice in the current climate.

BCC are unique in the sense that we have operated the same way for over 20 years, and we take pride in our ethical approach.

 

—Article by Hashim Ahmed

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