The new venture, which already has more than 40 business clients, will procure green energy for businesses at “cheaper-than-brown” prices, as well as providing a range of consultancy-style services such as ESOS assessments and CRC management.

Speaking exclusively to edie, the Group’s head of energy Nigel Holden, who is overseeing Co-operative Power, explained that the idea for the new venture had grown organically over the past ten years.

“We had experience as the in-house energy team at the the Co-operative Group; procuring energy for regional co-operative societies around the country, so we’re used to that federal role,” Holden said. 

“And then two or three years ago, we were approached by the National Trust to help them with their energy, and we saved them about £1.8m. They recommended us to a whole host of other charities who came to our door, and before you knew it we had gone from buying green energy for 10 organisations outside of the group to 40 now.

“We got to the point where we were running this business as an extra, and we thought we needed to build our resources here and do this properly.

“There’s obviously a market out there, of people who trust the Co-op and want to get a green procurement deal on the back of our scale and get good service afterwards in running their energy systems. So Co-op Power was born.” 

Green success

As head of energy for the entire Co-op Group, Holden has cut absolute energy consumption by 35% since 2005, with a combination of ambitious behaviour change programs and estate-wide investments in efficiency technology. The firm’s new headquarters in Manchester is a leading example in energy efficiency, having achieved one of the highest ever BREEAM scores.

What’s more, 98% of all Co-op’s energy is now generated from renewable sources. This currently comes through Power Purchasing Agreements (PPAs), but the group has recently built three windfarms through Joint Venture schemes, with another in the works. “By 2017, we’re hoping to generate 25% of our power from those windfarms,” said Holden.

And, echoing M&S head of energy supply Gio Patellaro, Holden said there is no reason for businesses not to switch to a cleaner energy supply. “All the power we provide for our customers is not only green, but good quality green – wind and hydro – and its actually cheaper than brown,” he said.

The Co-operative Power website is still under construction, with further details to be released in due course.

Nigel Holden at the Energy Management Forum

Nigel Holden will be talking more about Co-operative Power at the edie Energy Managers Forum in Birmingham on 20 May. Holden will also share his experiences in a talk entitled “The latest strategic Energy Management Systems developments and how they are best employed”. View the full Forum agenda and register to attend here.

Brad Allen

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