Ten Lessons for Effective ECO Programmes

Last week we held our “Effective ECO Programmes” event in collaboration with Trowers and Hamlins. Given the recent debate over energy bills, the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) and the future of so-called “Green Taxes”, it was no surprise that we had a good turn-out and some engaging debate. For us, it was a great opportunity to hear the concerns of Registered Providers about the scheme, and to share some of the valuable lessons we’ve learned from developing retrofit strategies covering over 600,000 homes.

The number one take-away from the event was that there is no time to lose! While there is currently uncertainty around the long-term future of ECO, it is reasonably safe to press ahead with programmes in the short-term (up to the end of 2014). Even if the Government was to cut targets in half, the lack of progress so far still means there is a lot of funding out that needs to be funnelled into retrofit ASAP.

And there are no organisations better placed to take advantage of that than Registered Providers, who have own big swathes of the UK’s ECO eligible homes – offering obligated energy companies the scale and cost efficiencies they so crave. But as John Kiely from Savills remarked on the day “knowledge is power”, and the first steps towards a successful ECO programmes are gathering good data, and developing a clear, evidence-based strategy.

Anyone planning a programme of ECO-funded retrofit should first think through what they are trying to achieve as an organisation, and then assess how retrofit can align with and support those aims. Only then should you proceed to examine what contribution ECO can make to supporting that activity. Careful analysis and planning, for example using our CROHM stock assessment service, will also help you to make sure that you are getting a good deal when you put your works out to the market. Without that knowledge, the balance is in the energy company’s or contractor’s hands.

At the event, Savills and Trowers & Hamlins went on to talk through the practical steps involved in securing a delivery partner, including the relative benefits and risks of various procurement options. With relatively short time remaining in phase one of ECO, and a highly complex landscape to negotiate, there are clearly huge potential benefits to getting advice from them and their kin to help negotiate that vital stage in the process. If you want to read more about what they covered, you can download the presentations from the day

With ECO under threat, and the future of the Green Deal up for grabs, there is a real opportunity there for Registered Providers to demonstrate that they can and will continue to lead and should be at the forefront of the future of retrofit policy. The best way to do that is to wait no more, and start planning and delivering effective ECO programmes now!

Top tips from the event taken from our twitter feed:

#ECO lesson 1: don’t be scared by the headlines. There is still time to design and deliver programmes.

#ECO lesson 2: RPs have something energy companies want – scale. You have a good negotiating position…

#ECO lesson 3: …to negotiate effectively, you need to understand your objectives, stock, and the scale of the opportunity

#ECO lesson 4: to do that it all starts with good data. “Knowledge is power”

#ECO lesson 5: Most phase 1 programmes need works completed by end 2014. So don’t wait for prices to rise. Act now.

#ECO lesson 6: don’t be seduced by 100% funding offers. They’re usually full of catches

#ECO lesson 7: once you understand the full opp, then drill down to create deliverable “packages”. Align works with wider plans

#ECO lesson 8: given the short timescales remaining, you may want to consider an existing framework. There are plenty out there

#ECO lesson 9: but shop around. Each has its own +/-. Seek advice. Which is best suited to your needs? What are the risks? @Trowers

#ECO lesson 10: you don’t need to go it alone – we’re here to help @parityprojects @Trowers @natfednews @SavillsUK. And speak to your peers