ESOS enforcement delayed till end of January

9th October 2015

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Michael Osei-Antwi

Companies failing to meet the deadline for a new energy efficiency regulation will not face sanctions till the end of January, the Environment Agency has said.

The move was contained in revised compliance guidelines for the Energy Savings Opportunities Scheme (ESOS), published yesterday.

The official deadline for compliance is 5 December, but there have been calls for this to be extended due to the slow start to meet the regulation by companies covered by the scheme. In August, just 85 of the more than 7,000 companies eligible had completed an assessment and notified the agency.

The change is not an extension to the legal deadline, the regulator stressed. "Rather, it reflects the ability to exercise discretion when taking enforcement action."

Companies that cannot meet the 5 December date must inform the agency of this by the original deadline, explaining why compliance has not been possible and providing evidence of efforts towards compliance, including proof it had appointed an independent assessor.

"Evidence of efforts made towards compliance prior to the deadline will be taken into account in considering any enforcement action," the guidelines state.

Companies can also meet the regulation by becoming certified under the international energy management standard, ISO 50001. Firms have until 30 June 2016 to achieve certification, according to the document.

Companies not carrying out an energy audit could be fined up to £50,000, with an additional £500 for each working day they do not comply for a maximum of 80 days, while false or misleading statements will lead to fixed penalties of up to £50,000. Failing to notify the agency of energy use incurs a fine of up to £5,000, as will failing to maintain records.

However, the agency said it would issue fines in "only in the most serious cases" and would use enforcement notices to encourage firms to comply.

"The regulators are aware that there may be instances where organisations which qualify for ESOS are unable to complete an ESOS compliant assessment by 5 December 2015. There may also be cases where lead assessors are asked to take on work they do not believe they can deliver by this date," the document states.

The announcement follows a warning by ESOS assessors Inenco Group at the end of September that any new audits it took on would be unlikely to be complete by the 5 December deadline.

"Inenco's experience working with hundreds of businesses has proven that compliance takes at least two months to complete, partly because of the need to compile and analyse significant data from across business operations.

"Businesses are risking non-compliance or poor quality audits if they attempt to rush to meet the deadline," the company said in a statement.

ESOS requires all companies with over 250 employees or a turnover of at least €50 million and a balance sheet exceeding €43 million to review their energy consumption and submit audited reports to the agency.


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