The Insider: Energy conversation
Now here’s a thing. We recently tackled our ESOS transport energy audit and, reading through all the preamble, I was pretty sure I’d got it taped. Our mileage capture system ensures we have auditable records of business and private mileage, and the cost of both, and I knew where to find the number of miles driven by the grey fleet.
From our fuel card provider we know how many litres we purchase, and that it costs us a competitive price wherever we fill up, thanks to a Platts deal.
We have good records detailing the company cars themselves, and copy documents for the grey fleet, which is mercifully small anyway. But the question which caught me out was “litres of fuel consumed by the grey fleet”. And I have no idea! We pay grey fleet drivers a rate per business mile, based on the published Advisory Fuel Rates.
So, what should I do? I can make an educated guess about actual miles per gallon achieved, based on a percentage of manufacturer’s published figures, and from there it’s only a step to compute litres used for miles driven. But it won’t be strictly factual. Or I could ask the grey fleet drivers to regularly report the miles per gallon given by the on-board computer. They could tell me anything they like. I suspect I am in the majority on this one. I bet most of you don’t measure grey fleet litres either and I haven’t yet figured out how I am going to tackle it. I could ignore the issue altogether by claiming my grey fleet as the “de minimus” bit which I am allowed to exclude. But that somehow seems like avoiding the issue.
The purpose of ESOS is defined as a “mandatory assessment and energy saving identification scheme”. And that’s just what is has done. It has identified the one thing I’m not measuring properly. And so although I’m confident that our grey fleet policy dictates cars below a certain age and mileage, which means they should generally look nice and have the latest safety features – in theory the guys could all be driving around in vehicles which aren’t actually fuel efficient. Naming no specific marques, you’ll note.
The deciding factor here is that drivers generally don’t want to finance business fuel and in the main will have chosen their vehicle with economy in mind and yes, we do scrutinise their trip reports for accuracy before paying out claims. It’s a good thing we have only a small grey fleet.
So, think about some of the UK’s biggest fleets, both company and grey – that’ll be the public sector, who are excluded from the ESOS exercise. Their exclusion is a mystery to me and I’m surprised the collective ‘we’ haven’t made more fuss about this aspect; I guess we are all too busy getting to grips with our own audits, encroaching on an already overfilled working week, with the
5 December deadline fast-approaching. At least I hope you are on the journey – at the last count there was a ratio of about one lead assessor for every 2,000 companies requiring audit, meaning as time remaining reduces, the price may take a hike upwards. We could have a last minute rush for compliance, just like the recent Driver CPC training.
On the basis that most of us got very lean in the still-recent recession, we already went for small-is-beautiful and fuel-efficient, got rid of vehicles we didn’t need, and reduced business travel wherever possible, habits that most of us will continue with since it also improves our profits. And in the main, we went through that pain in advance of the public sector, which appears to be still only part way through the exercise, if indeed it has been started at all in some areas.
Surely if ESOS is really working towards a greener planet, we all need to be involved in saving it. Or is ESOS just jobs for the boys?