Thinking

Is the guessing game over? Resource Efficiency for Small/Medium Enterprise in NSW

Matthew Parnell - Thursday, April 04, 2013

As an accredited assessor on the now-defunct Energy Efficiency for Small Business (EESB) Program in NSW, I have been in a constant state of "wonder" about the future of such programs, since before the election of the O'Farrell Liberal-National government in NSW nearly 2 years ago.

We have been extended in 3 and 6 month periods since that time, and have been waiting to discover how it might transform into a new, on-going program. But the O'Farrell Government just can't make up their mind: is it a valuable support to small business in a time of concern about climate change, clashing with angst over the carbon tax? or don't they actually care so much about their core constituency of small/medium enterprise?

With these questions in mind, a small hint of what the future of small business energy programs might be has emerged this week. Rather than an extension of the EESB program, a compact form of the Sustainability Advantage Program's Resource Efficiency Module has been developed, but only to run from late April until the end of the current financial year, at this stage. If the NSW Government decides to make this program on-going, we will find out more before the end of June.

The new program details haven't been made fully available to us assessors currently on the consultants' panel, but its main features are likely to include:

  • A reporting process reviewing energy, water and waste for SMEs with electricity bills up to $100k annually
  • The focus will be on clubs, supermarkets and tourist accommodation
  • A suite of new tools will be introduced for assessors to use
  • There will be no rebates: assessors will be required to focus on end uses that can adopt new technologies with predictable savings that can generate Energy Saving Certificates as an incentive to clients

It is not clear at this stage whether registered businesses will contribute to the cost of the assessment process or whether it will be free-of-charge.

There will also be a process of appointment to a new consultants' panel for this program from the pool of assessors currently on the SA Resource Efficiency Panel (I think - I don't know whether assessors on the EESB Panel have also been included).

Now you know what I know! At this stage I will be throwing my hat into the ring for the new program, and hopefully will have some news for existing and prospective clients towards the end of April, if I'm successful in navigating the appointment process.

Disclaimer: The above is an "impression" based on documentation received and a discussion with an OEH staffer, for the purposes of informing my client base about what might develop in the future: I don't have definitive information, and its possible that details of the proposed scheme may yet change. While I am throwing my hat into the ring, I will not hang my hat on it (forgive my two bad metaphors)!

 Matthew

 

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About Dr. Matthew Parnell - With a built environment background, Dr. Parnell's specialty is buildings and their environmental impacts. Greensynergy Consulting is also active in bringing about change by developing the capacity of people, communities and organizations to adopt sustainable practices and develop strong sustainability cultures.
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