Businesses urged to warm to self-sufficiency before energy price freezes thaw

The Government’s financial support for businesses trying to survive the energy crisis has been described as a short-term fix to a problem that many have been facing for years.

Managing director of Fabweld Steel Products Wayne Carter
Managing director of Fabweld Steel Products Wayne Carter

Wayne Carter, managing director at Telford manufacturer Fabweld Steel Products (FSP), said what businesses really need is sustainable, long-term solutions and the opportunity to become self-sufficient – starting with the Government’s bid to boost homegrown energy supply on our own doorsteps, not in new gas and oil fields.

“We started on our sustainability journey a few years ago as we wanted to take steps to make our operations net zero because it was the right thing to do,” said Wayne.

“But we were also keen to become self-sufficient as a business. Energy costs have been going up every year, albeit this year the increases have been accelerated by the war in Ukraine. It’s challenging to plan for the future of your business when you don’t know what your energy outgoings are going to be from one year to the next."

The Government support will see wholesale gas and electricity prices fixed for firms for six months from October 1, shielding businesses from crippling costs.

It is understood the scheme will be reviewed after three months with an option to extend support for “vulnerable businesses” – but it is not known what sectors come under the category.

“Rather than giving businesses a six-month hiatus in their already spiralling energy costs, why isn’t the Government helping us to invest in renewable energy generation so we can make more of the power we use? Why not help educate business owners about energy efficiency and subsidise new technologies so we have more control over how much we spend on gas and electricity?

“What happens after this six months of financial support runs out? The business community can’t keep taking the price rises, we have to put ourselves back in control,” Mr Carter said.

FSP is currently implementing its plans for self-sufficiency, including investing in solar panels and battery storage to make and store its own green electricity, purchasing a nitrogen generation system to be run on green power, and buying electric fleet cars and fork lift trucks as alternatives to petrol and diesel models when they need replacing.

Mr Carter added: “Self-sufficiency is the only sustainable and profitable way to do business, and the Government need to take action on this before the price freezes thaw in April 2023. Otherwise, the Energy Bill Relief Scheme is merely kicking the can down the road.”

Seb Slater, executive director of Shrewsbury Business Improvement District, said: “The Government support for energy costs will undoubtedly be welcomed by businesses but questions remain about what happens beyond the six-month scheme.

“We are continuing to work with BIDs across the country in calling for more long-term measures to help businesses plan ahead and deal with massively increased running costs, which are not limited to energy bills."

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