Nicholas Butler, General Manager at National Carbon Bank of Australia

BUSINESS NEWS: It’s been smooth sailing for Melbourne-based environmental certificate agent and clean energy market advocate Green Energy Trading after its purchase of Sydney-based energy conservation consultancy National Carbon Bank.

The deal, completed in early August, has had no staff disruption, NCBA’s general manager Nicholas Butler (previously of GET) said this week, speaking by phone from the amalgamated Victorian office.

Butler noted growing market demand for the company’s services in the wake of rising electricity prices and state-led schemes aiming to combat them.

“We kept all of NCBA’s 20 staff on. The only real change was moving NCBA Melbourne employees into the GET Hawthorn office.”

The choice to keep the branding separate was a strategic one, Butler said; it retained NCBA’s name and unique sway in the market.

“It’s been such a dominant player for the better part of a decade and that’s the whole reason you purchase NCBA: the staff, their expertise, their strong customer relationships. If we wanted to purchase an office we would have just bought a new building.”

That NCBA was divided into the lighting business arm – as acquired by GET – and the energy measurement and verification business – which was purchased by Victorian energy consultancy company Northmore Gordon – was the only real hurdle in the sale.

“It was a bit of a funny one with the way the business was split up,” Butler said, referring to a handful of phone calls early on to sort out the complexity. “But now that we’ve sorted the websites and the marketing side it’s been great.”

Three months on and Butler said they are starting to look for avenues to grow.

“That’s just the way NCBA operates: we’re constantly looking for opportunities because at any minute governments can change, policies can change.

“You have to be flexible with what you’re working on in this industry, you have to be ready to pivot based on the market.”

At the moment Butler said there has been a lot of demand in the home retrofit space, particularly with the NSW government’s Home Energy Efficiency Retrofit (HEER) scheme. The scheme is geared towards helping households and small businesses benefit from a range of energy efficiency upgrades in their homes – replacing downlights with LED lighting for example.

“These schemes have been a change of pace for a lot of people,” Butler said, “so we’re not necessarily seeking new customers, as much as we are actively engaging with our existing base.

“For anyone who has been doing bigger commercial lighting fitouts, right into home energy and small businesses, there’s a lot of money going into this space.”

Butler said this is particularly true with the continued pressure on power bills, which he predicts will not abate any time soon.

“Unfortunately it’s taken power prices to get to where they are for a lot of people to realise the rise,” he said. “For a lot of us we switch on the lights and because they’re working fine we assume there’s no change, until the bill comes in in three months time and it’s just up and up and up.”

Butler points out that the states and territories are the ones doing great things to counteract this however, from Daniel Andrews “smashing it” after some teething issues with schemes such as the Solar Homes program in Victoria, to the ACT going entirely carbon neutral.

Butler hopes both companies can take advantage of this momentum at the state level to continue improving energy efficiency for their clients.

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