Our Ultimate Guide to Your Burning Utility Questions

23 April 2024

Tired of navigating the murky waters of utility management alone? Look no further! In this comprehensive guide, our experts have compiled your most frequently asked questions, and provided you with their expert insights and responses.

Whether you’re curious about energy market trends, utility contract terms and procurement, or sustainability options, we’ve got you covered!  Join us as we unlock the mysteries of utility management and empower you with the information you need to make informed decisions for your business.

Utilities Management Questions

Should our new utility contract agreement be shorter or longer term?

The optimal term for your electricity, natural gas, LPG and trade waste procurement agreement depends on various factors, including market conditions and your business objectives. Longer-term contracts can provide price stability and potentially lower rates, while shorter-term agreements offer flexibility and the ability to adapt to changing market dynamics. Total Utilities offers a range of contract terms and provides recommendations tailored to your specific needs.

Should I let my utility contract expire and see what happens in the market?

It is generally not advisable to allow your utility contract to expire without securing a new agreement, as this can expose your business to pricing which may be significantly higher. Waste contracts are often very one sided in favour of the supplier. It is important to ensure that notice is given within the applicable timeframes should rollover clauses exist. Otherwise you could be stuck for a new term on conditions you don’t like. Instead, Total Utilities recommends exploring short-term contracts that provide pricing cover while allowing flexibility to adapt to market changes.

Why should we bother tracking utility costs if we’re in a fixed-term contract?

Monitoring utility usage and costs serves several crucial purposes:

  • Identifying areas for potential savings
  • Predicting future utility needs
  • Improving operational processes and reducing overhead expenses
  • Preventing wastage, including excessive utility usage
  • Establishing valuable metrics for communicating utility usage throughout your organisation
  • Making informed business decisions based on precise and accurate reporting.

Why should I use Total Utilities?

Total Utilities specialises in the energy and gas procurement industry, leveraging over two decades of experience. Completing around 300 market reviews each year, we closely monitor market movements, government policies, and industry trends to provide informed and strategic advice. Our range of services is designed to help businesses optimise their utility costs while ensuring reliable and efficient utility procurement.

What will it cost me?

We offer a range of fee options tailored to your business needs, including annual fees and fixed fees. These fee structures allow you to spread the cost of our services over the term of your contract. Additionally, we provide special pricing for bundled services, ensuring cost-effective solutions for your utility procurement needs.

Energy specific questions

What is happening in the gas market?

The gas market is experiencing a decline in production. Since the ban on offshore oil and gas exploration in 2016, investment in domestic gas infrastructure has dwindled. This is coupled with the sustained decline in production as fields exhaust their resources. According to forecasts by MBIE, gas production is expected to decrease by 30% by the year 2030. This trend has significant implications for businesses reliant on gas, as it may lead to changes in pricing and availability. Short term, market issues are not going away and it remains to be seen whether the new government will look at importing Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) or fast-tracking hydrogen production.

Why aren’t gas suppliers bidding as aggressively as before?

The decrease in gas production and the exit of gas retailers from the market have contributed to a shift in bidding dynamics. Gas suppliers may be more selective in their bidding strategies due to supply constraints and changing market conditions. Additionally, the demand for gas for electricity generation and other purposes further influences bidding behaviour.

Why are energy prices rising in a predominantly hydrogeneration-based market?

Despite being predominantly hydrogeneration-based, energy prices are influenced by the overall cost of generation, including gas and coal. When gas and coal generation is required to meet demand, it can drive up the market price of electricity. Additionally, factors such as emissions trading scheme (ETS) costs contribute to price increases.

Sustainability Questions

How do we reduce our usage and carbon emissions?

Total Utilities recommends a proactive approach to reducing energy usage and carbon emissions. This involves measuring current consumption levels, identifying areas for improvement, and implementing energy efficiency measures. Reduction measures can be prioritised from low cost high impact to high cost low impact. This allows your business to plan and budget for changes that need to be made, ensuring that over time you make improvements and become more commercially and environmentally sustainable.

Is solar a viable option?

The viability of solar energy depends on various factors, including your organisation’s internal rate of return (IRR) and sustainability goals. With current energy pricing, onsite solar installations typically offer a return on investment (ROI) within approximately seven years. However, successful implementation of solar projects also requires careful consideration of factors such as site suitability, financing options, and regulatory requirements, all of which we can advise upon.

Are renewable infrastructures being built?

Yes, there are ongoing efforts to develop renewable energy infrastructure, but progress is often hindered by regulatory challenges, environmental considerations, and supply chain issues. The process of commissioning new renewable generators can be lengthy, typically taking around nine years from planning to completion.

Market Dynamics Questions

When will electricity and gas markets stabilise?

Market stabilisation in the electricity sector is anticipated around 2027/2028, contingent upon significant infrastructure investments and regulatory developments. However, It is likely that natural gas markets will get worse before they get better, if they ever do. Since the ban on offshore exploration, much of our industry expertise has been relocated offshore. Bringing that knowledge back to NZ will be challenging unless the sector has a 10-20-year time horizon for exploration to continue.

Why are price hikes so big?

Factors such as declining gas production and limited electricity generation investment have contributed to significant price increases in the energy market. Additionally, regulatory changes and market dynamics impact pricing, leading to fluctuations and occasional spikes in prices.Waste to landfill pricing has been increasing as New Zealand has limited space in landfill sites. Also government policy has seen increases in the waste levy to incentivise more recycling and less waste ending up in landfill. If you aren’t recycling what you can, you are missing out.

Will utility prices drop?

Forecasts indicate a stabilisation of electricity prices beyond 2027, provided that investments in renewables reduce reliance on coal and gas. However, the timing and extent of price stabilisation depend on various factors, including policy developments, technological advancements, and market dynamics. With the government’s decarbonisation targets we are unlikely to see gas and waste prices falling. The most effective saving is to use less of your utilities where able.

How much can you save me?

Total Utilities works diligently to secure competitive pricing for our clients in a rising market. While we cannot guarantee specific savings, our strategic approach to procurement ensures that your current supplier must compete to retain your business. Additionally, we identify opportunities for cost savings, such as waste reduction, which can lead to significant financial benefits for your organisation.

Industry Insights Questions

How can I manage variable costs?

Total Utilities offers monthly forecasting and budgeting advice to help you manage variable costs effectively. By analysing historical usage data and market trends, we provide insights that enable you to forecast