Watching the skies

This year's National Energy Management Exhibition (NEMEX) offers an energy service exhibition, a conference on the climate change levy and workshops on topics such as CHP. Dominic Mason examines the central theme, the Climate Change Levy.

The major thrust of this year's NEMEX conference at the NEC is the climate change levy's impact upon business. The consultation on the levy released a barrage of criticism from industry. The CBI, CHP Association, Electricity Association, and the Institute of Buildings Services Engineers were a few of those that loudly complained about the bluntness of the new tax. Critics claimed that the Government has chosen a downstream tax that fails to distinguish between electricity generated by non-fossil fuels or co-generation. With the levy due to be introduced in April 2001, and guidance notes due before the end of this year, discussions between industry representatives and the Government upon the exact formula and extent of the tax are very active. For example, in his first official meeting as financial secretary to the Treasury, Stephen Timms met representatives of the CBI to discuss their position on the tax.

Business concerns

One of the loudest voices speaking out against the climate change levy is that of the CBI. Speaking to IEM, a CBI spokeswoman stated the organisation's most important concerns. They are: the Government's claims that overall the levy is revenue neutral; the exclusion of parts of manufacturing industry from the negotiation of reduction agreements; that emission trading should be seen as counting towards meeting emissions targets; the exclusion of CHP and renewable energy from the levy's remit; that only 3.8% of the estimated saving is to be spent on implementation, leaving 96.2% "profit"; and, that smaller companies with a high energy inefficiency need to be targeted by a specific programme.

In order to focus on the subject matter as tightly as possible, the NEMEX conference content has been steered by a committee of members of industry and interested parties. Among those contributing their views are: Don Lack, energy manager of Leicester City Council; Eoin Lees, chief executive, Energy Savings Trust; and Paul Ellen, energy manager, Rover Group. With representation from HM Customs & Excise and the DETR, energy managers should be able to directly air any views and comment upon areas that they feel are unclear or contentious. Whilst the conference focuses on the climate change levy, the NEMEX workshops have the broader task of raising the profile of the energy manager, say the organisers. A survey of visitors to NEMEX 98 revealed that their overall priorities were: staying ahead of new technology; schemes and incentives to promote energy efficiency; and saving money. The workshops have been designed to fulfil these wishes.

Delegate registration details are available from Mark Allbutt, Tel: +44 (0) 1203 230333, Fax: +44 (0)1203 252241


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