More than 9 in 10 businesses unaware carbon tax assistance is available

Energy Action
Monday, 25 June, 2012

Thousands of organisations across Australia are missing out on potential financial aid that could help them combat the impact of the carbon tax, says Energy Action. The start of a new financial year provides an opportunity to review what funding options are available.

Despite millions of dollars of accessible aid, a survey by Energy Action found that:

  • 93% of businesses are unaware or unsure about the government assistance, funding or grants available to them.
  • Nearly three-quarters (71%) of organisations believed that they would not receive sufficient compensation from the government against the carbon cost impact, with a further 19% saying they are unsure if they will.

Now is the perfect opportunity for Australian organisations to look at what grants are available and plan for the coming year.

Edward Hanna, Director of Energy Efficiency & Sustainability at Energy Action, said: “It is surprising to see that so many businesses are worried about the impact that the carbon tax will have on them, but remain unaware of what help is available. Of the businesses surveyed, 70% said that they had begun investing in energy efficiency and sustainability. It is vital they know what help is available to minimise costs.”

Despite the lack of knowledge, there is a strong appetite for information with 84% being interested in energy efficiency and sustainability measures for their business.

What grants are available?

The government has pledged $800m in grants for the manufacturing industry through the Clean Technology Investment Program, a central part of the Clean Energy Future Plan. $200m has been set aside specifically for the Clean Technology and Food and Foundries investment Program. These grants can significantly reduce the cost of investing in energy efficiency and are now more flexible than ever, with a range of investments that enable efficiency savings permitted (including replacing equipment). In order to access these grants, organisations must meet several requirements and undertake a feasibility study to describe the potential project and its savings in detail. Energy Action has advised many organisations on feasibility and evaluated potential savings; and according to the company, it has a 100% success rate for grant application.

Hanna explains: “It is critical for businesses to understand, once approved, funding is guaranteed, even if the government or its policies change. Many organisations are opting to delay applications in search of political certainty. Unfortunately, valuable opportunities to improve their energy efficiency today, while funding is available, are simply passing these organisations by. Once these grants and funding are exhausted, these financial opportunities will no longer exist. Businesses need to be aware these opportunities are time critical.”

What financing options exist?

In addition to the introduction of the carbon tax, many businesses fear increasing energy price rises, with 48% of respondents expecting the impact to be severe on the cost of running their business. As government grants are typically paid in instalments, the worry of high initial outgoings combined with rising energy prices can make organisations reluctant to invest in energy efficiency.

One way to overcome this barrier is to look at financing options. Energy Action has been selected as a foundation member in the Low Carbon Australia ‘Energy Smart Finance Program’, enabling it to help customers access low-cost financing to support energy-efficiency projects. This can result in positive cashflow for some organisations, where loan repayments are less than the savings made in the same period. For larger projects where this may not be the case, Energy Action may be able to assist businesses fund some of the shortfall.

Edward Hanna said: “It was encouraging to see that almost a third (29%) of companies think investing in energy efficiency is very important, but cashflow can be a problem. Energy Action understands that even with funding, that pressure can make investing in energy efficiency difficult. Ultimately investing in energy efficiency is a benefit to organisations in the long term.”

Energy Action works with Low Carbon Australia to help organisations upgrade to the latest energy-efficient technologies and manage their cashflow preservation. The journey to energy efficiency often requires a level of sacrifice (ie, sacrificing funds, physical square metres on site, delays in productivity while projects are being implemented, etc) in exchange for lower energy costs and often improved quality, productivity or staff/customer experience. Partnering with an independent energy consultant that understands the application of technology and the future of energy costs can help businesses assess these sacrifices, establishing the best path for the maximum benefit.

Hanna added: “With the continued rising costs of energy bills on businesses across Australia, investing in energy efficiency makes more sense than ever. We are seeing a growing trend in organisations embracing energy efficiency as a process of continuous improvement, rather than a one-off project. The most successful organisations at implementing energy efficiency have made long-term energy management plans and work towards the end goal while monitoring the current situation for any benefits that can be found.”

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