4 September 2013 — An energy efficiency information program for small and medium sized businesses in the Newcastle and Hunter region has been created by Hunter Business Chamber, the City of Newcastle and Hunter TAFE.

Energy Hunter helps businesses to manage, identify and improve their electricity consumption, saving money by becoming more energy efficient.

It’s another step in improving the efficiency of the Hunter region’s building stock, following on from the City of Newcastle recently announcing an EUA program.

See our article Newcastle set for EUAs as survey finds willing owners

It is funded through a $1.2 million Energy Efficiency Information Grant from the Australian Government and delivered in three stages, Living Laboratory, Business to Business mentoring and Mass Learning.

Through the Living Laboratory, the City of Newcastle will provide 500 businesses in the Hunter region with:

  • free electricity monitoring, either through an online subscription to WebGraphs or installing an electricity display onsite
  • one-on-one tailored assistance for businesses to work through Council’s ClimateCam framework
  • access to monthly workshops, fact sheets, how-to guides and case studies that highlight ways for businesses to manage their electricity use
  • the opportunity to meet other participants from the business community, share ideas and form valuable working relationships.
The pilot workshop

The program is free but participants need to commit to a minimum 12 month involvement, a minimum of four one-hour workshops and to share information for the development of reports, case studies and other materials.

Adam Clarke

City of Newcastle program coordinator – environment and climate change services Adam Clarke said the program, launched in April, already had 140 businesses taking part.

“Some of the outcomes so far that we have assisted businesses with include developing business cases for energy efficient upgrades, assisting with lighting quotes, identifying power factor correction units that have not been operating correctly and assisting businesses to get a reset of their peak capacity charge,” he said.

The city had also helped with amalgamating meters at a site dropping from five to one, he said.

“As well as saving on service charges it helped them get more use out of their solar system, which previously was exporting most of the electricity back out to the grid a $0.06 because that particular meter had very little consumption.”

Mr Clarke said Energy Hunter had also helped businesses assess which size solar unit they required to match their daily load profile.

“In areas where we have made easy wins by saving money on bills, we encourage businesses to reinvest this into energy efficiency for further ongoing savings.

“We also work closely with Ausgrid to access interval electricity data and provide billing analysis for businesses to ensure they are on the right tariff and if any discounts might be available.

“We’ve found several businesses misclassified as larger electricity users resulting in a capacity charge that they should not be paying – around $400 per month in some instances.”

Mr Clarke said they found one business that had been charged incorrect rates and tariffs back until at least 2010, and which should have been on “time of use” since 2006.

“On their behalf we are currently discussing this with the retailer and the Energy and Water Ombudsman.

“As a small business that has been paying at least $1000 per month too much going back to August last year and going back to 2010 have been overcharged a very substantial amount.”

Mr Clarke said Energy Hunter had 10 case studies available along with 10 “how-to” guides covering areas such as lighting, heating and cooling, refrigeration, power factor, variable speed drives, understanding bills, electricity monitoring and hot water systems.

See case studies here.

See how-to guides here.