Utility Management in “the new normal”: Your Questions Answered



A – It all depends on whether your consumption is being accurately billed. Meter readings need to be taken regularly to avoid providers making cost estimations which could lead to your business paying for more than you are using. You could consider using AMR/SMART meters to help keep on top of this.

– Some charges are based on consumption, for example unit rate or CCL, and others on things like available capacity and standing charge. So the capacity level of your half-hour electricity supplies could be reviewed and possibly reduced based on usage verse costs.

– There are also potential hazards with some suppliers or supply contracts, which could have ‘Take or Pay’ clauses. These will require you to pay for a minimum amount of energy regardless of how much you are actually using. This is why it is so important to work with vetted suppliers like CTP and carefully check your terms and conditions of contracts.


A – The amount of commission you are paying should be fixed for the duration of a supply contract. But if consumption is lower than expected the third party may try to recoup costs by charging you additional fees or increasing the commission rates on your future contracts. The best thing you can do is double check the terms of your agreement. At CTP we are always transparent with our fees and will never hit with you unexpected extra charges.


A – There is no need for you to be worried. Electricity and gas prices have some correlation with the oil market, so a falling oil market is good news for the consumer as prices will go down. However, there are other determining factors. Gas prices are more likely to be affected as a larger proportion of the overall cost to consumers is attributed to the commodity. This is less so for electricity as it’s more affected by renewable levies and infrastructure costs.


A – Fortunately CTP has not been affected, and we’ve been able to adapt quickly to a new way of working. All our staff have been given the help and support they need to work from home to keep everything running smoothly.

– Over the last few years we’ve seen considerable growth because of our strong reputation and regular word of mouth referrals. Our 36 years of experience working in the UK energy market has given us the tools to be able to ride out and sometimes even prosper from tough economic climates. We often see an increase in the size of our portfolios during a recession as we look after utilities across vacant retail and office spaces for many of our clients as part of our Utility Bureau Services.


A – At the beginning of the year we saw a sharp fall in energy prices, partly because of a drop in the global and national demand for oil and energy due to Covid-19. However, the wholesale energy markets have become quite volatile recently. At CTP we track the markets carefully to make sure all our contracts are sourced during competitive periods. We will always contact our clients to let them know when it’s a good time to close tenders.


A – You need to act fast! Business energy prices for deemed or out of contract rates are notoriously expensive, and could even be double the price of contracted rates.

CTP may be able to negotiate a backdated contract to avoid any period spent out of contract, but it will depend on the incumbent supplier. We could also carry out an urgent tender to source the most competitive contract and switch you over as soon as possible.

If you have any more questions for us relating to your utility management please get in touch on 01630 685 144 or [email protected]

The price of Brent Crude oil has fallen to its lowest level since 2002

For the first time in 18 years the price of a barrel of Brent Crude, which is the UK’s benchmark for oil, has fallen to below $20. It comes after the price of US oil hit a historic low of below zero earlier this week. It fell to minus $37 a barrel at one point before recovering to a positive figure.

Producers are having to pay buyers to take the oil because of fears that storage capacity could run out in May. Prices have recovered some ground today since the historic crash but any gains are likely to be capped because of the concerns over how the market will cope with the supply surplus. Global demand for oil has plummeted because of the lockdown caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, and the fallout between Russia and Saudi Arabia over reducing output.

The business lobby for the UK’s offshore oil and gas sector, OGUK, says firms operating in the North Sea will be affected by the negative price of US oil. It’s boss, Deirdre Michie, says “the dynamics of this US market are different from those directly driving UK produced Brent but we will not escape the impact.”

“Ours is not just a trading market; every penny lost spells more uncertainty over jobs.”

Deirdre Michie, the boss of OGUK, the business lobby for the UK’s offshore oil and gas sector.

Energy prices in the UK have fallen in response to reduce demand because of the COVID-19 lockdown, but the effect of the US oil price collapse is expected to be limited because they have not experienced the dramatic changes. In the last few years gas and power prices have become less prone to following the same price fluctuation as oil. Previously they followed a similar sort of pattern but have since decoupled.

Analysts think the negative prices recorded for a barrel of West Texas Intermediate, which is the US benchmark for oil, is unusual but won’t become the new normal.

Work on HS2 to go ahead despite the lockdown

The government says construction work on HS2 can begin despite the current Coronavirus lockdown measures. Ministers say the UK cannot afford any more delays to the high-speed rail project which is already behind schedule.


“While the government’s top priority is rightly to combat the spread of Coronavirus, protect the NHS and save lives, we cannot delay work on our long-term plan to level up the country.”

 – HS2 minister Andrew Stephenson


The Department for Transport says the decision will be a great boost to the sector, at a time when there’s major uncertainty because of COVID-19. HS2 minister Andrew Stephenson says it’ll “provide thousands of construction workers and businesses across the country with certainty at a time when they need it”. But not everyone agrees. The deputy director of the free-market Adam Smith Institute has called the announcement “tone-deaf” in light of the economic crisis caused by the global outbreak. Matthew Kilcoyne says “we need to get back on to a sustainable financial footing” and “can’t afford vanity projects like HS2”.

Firms involved in phase one construction will have to follow social distancing rules in line with guidance issued by Public Health England to contractors who’ve continued to work during the pandemic. The Department for Transport says a notice to proceed has been given to four joint ventures which will start work immediately. Some of the companies that have HS2 contracts are Costain, Balfour Beatty and Skanska Construction UK. Eamon O’Hearn, national officer at the GMB union which represents HS2 construction workers, says “the overriding priority” must be the safety of the workforce.


“The issuing of notice to proceed today ensures that our contractors and their supply chains have the confidence that they can commit to building HS2, generating thousands of skilled jobs across the country as we recover from the pandemic.”

 – Mark Thurston, chief executive of HS2 Ltd


The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, gave the go ahead to the controversial project in February after a review found it could cost the country more than £100 billion. It’s hoped the high-speed rail project, which is set to link London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, will help reduce carbon emissions which the government has promised to cut to zero by 2050. It’s also thought it’ll improve journey times, reduce passenger overcrowding, create jobs and rebalance the UK’s economy.


HS2 gets the green light from Boris Johnson


Oil prices rebound after hopes of a price war truce between Saudi Arabia and Russia

The oil industry has seen the biggest one-day price surge on record this week. Global oil prices have gone up by more than 20% after indications that Saudi Arabia and Russia could end their price war.

In March the cost of Brent Crude fell to $22.58 a barrel, the lowest level seen since November 2002. A deal between Saudi Arabia and Russia to cut production after a drop in demand caused by the global Coronavirus pandemic collapsed last month. In response both countries increased production and slashed prices as they wrestled for control of the market. These actions coupled with the wider drop in global demand because of the pandemic had a dramatic impact on the energy supply industry world wide.


In the US it was the worst performing quarter on record for the oil industry, as prices fell by two thirds in the first three months of the year. This has caused Washington to try and broker a new deal between Saudi Arabia and Russia to put an end to their feud in hopes of recovering global prices. This week the US President, Donald Trump, tweeted “I expect and hope” that both sides will cut supply by “approximately 10 million Barrels”. The Russian Energy Minister, Alexander Novak, has said Moscow may re-enter talks with Saudi Arabia, and would work to help stabilise the oil market.

Even though there’s been no confirmation of whether a truce will be reached, the oil industry is welcoming the news.

So what does this mean for the UK?

At the moment no one really knows what will happen over the next few months, as we all adjust to a very different life because of the Covid-19 outbreak. The global pandemic means all the old ways of thinking have to be thrown out the window as experts struggle to predict exactly what might happen.

Donald Trump’s tweet raises a number of questions about how much output might need to be cut to help stabilise the market. The US President’s suggestion that Saudi Arabia and Russia would reduce production by about 10 million barrels, which would amount to about 10% of the world’s output. But analysts are suggesting that it might not be enough to offset the reduce in demand caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Here at Clifford Talbot Partnership, we are drawing on more than 36 years of experience riding the waves of a constantly changing and challenging industry to steer us through the next few months. We are confident in our ability to adapt to this new environment and will continue to do everything we can to help our clients through this. If you don’t already use a utility management company like CTP please check out our Utility Bureau Service which is exactly what companies need right now to help them navigate this unusual situation. Any new enquiries please get in touch with our owner Steve Clifford on 07929 345764 who is on hand to answer any questions. Current clients please get in touch with your Account Manager directly or contact us here.

How Covid-19 is affecting the energy supply industry

We’ve already seen the impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic both in the UK and across the world. With so many people now working from home the pattern of electricity demand is changing shape and instead mirroring what we normally see in the UK at weekends. Globally there’ve been almost 750,000 confirmed cases of people being infected by the outbreak which originated in China, but it’s thought that’s only a fraction of the real number. The UK death toll has now reached 1,415.

Covid-19 is also having an impact on the sourcing and supply chain across the power network globally. The price of oil has dropped to its lowest level for 18 years, after the global demand for crude collapsed because of the Coronavirus pandemic. On Monday Brent Crude fell to $22.58 a barrel, which is the lowest it’s been since November 2002. Oil prices have not only been affected by the lack of demand caused by the global shutdown, but also because of the price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia that broke out earlier this month. The oil markets in both countries have become suppressed after production was increased following the dispute, leading to a surplus.

Refineries across the world are processing less crude oil following the fall in demand caused by countries bringing in tougher measures everyday to tackle the outbreak. The reduction in travel, with less planes in the skies and cars on the road, is having a particularly significant impact. Easyjet is the latest airline to ground its entire fleet of planes because of the “unprecedented travel restrictions” imposed by governments across the world. Virgin Atlantic has already suggested that it will ask for a bailout, and several other airlines are expected to need similar measures.

England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Jenny Harries, says it could be six months before things get back to normal in Britain, but OFGEM, the government regulator for gas and electricity markets in Great Britain, says the “energy supply won’t be disrupted”. At Clifford Talbot Partnership we are taking the situation very seriously and ensuring every step is being taken to protect both our staff and their families, as well as continuing to provide the best possible service to our clients. Industry body the Energy Networks Association says “Britain has one of the most reliable networks in the world” and that there are well practised contingency plans in place to make sure there is a reliable supply of energy across the country.

At CTP it’s business as usual, despite most of our staff working from home we are always on hand to answer any questions you may have, and will continue to provide top class service throughout the Coronavirus lockdown. If you have any questions on how your energy supply may be affected, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us. You can contact your Account Manager directly, call owner Steve Clifford on 07929 345764 for any new enquiries, or contact us here

For the latest information on Coronavirus cases globally check out https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/#page-top

To find out more about the symptoms and health advice visit the NHS website https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

How the Covid-19 lockdown will affect Clifford Talbot Partnership

We are all waking up to a very different UK after the Prime Minister announced last night that the Covid-19 situation is now classed as a “national emergency”. Boris Johnson says everyone “must stay at home” and only leave the house when “absolutely necessary”. But, it’s business as usual at Clifford Talbot Partnership despite most of our team working from home.

At Clifford Talbot Partnership we’ve taken the decision to make sure every precaution is being taken to look after our staff and their families. This means that the majority of our staff are now working from home. But despite all the changes Clifford Talbot Partnership wants to assure our clients that we are still running business as usual and any needs you have will still be met.

All our employees are still on hand to offer support and advice to all our customers and make sure everything runs as smoothly as normal. We will continue to offer the first rate service we always have throughout this uncertain period and maintain the level of professionalism our customers have come to expect from us.

If any of our clients have any questions or concerns please contact your Account Manager directly. Any new enquiries can be made by calling owner Steve Clifford on 07929 345764 or contacting us here

Covid-19 Update

Under the present and unprecedented circumstances our priority is the health and welfare of our team members and their families. Therefore, as with many organisations throughout the UK, we are in the process of arranging for our team to work from home.

This has been quite a large task as up until last week, only a small number of senior members of the team had the facilities to do this. However, the necessary work is well under way and should be completed by close of business Friday the 20th March. Already the majority of our team are now able to work from home.

It is very much business as usual and we will continue with the very high level of service we have always provided to our clients and which our clients have come to expect. We anticipate a small number of the team will attend the office to receive post and do all the essential tasks necessary for clients’ data to be inputted into our IT systems.

At this most difficult time for us all, it is even more important that our service is continuous because with a large number of people starting to work from home, utility bills need to be closely monitored to ensure costs and consumptions of businesses reflect occupancy levels.

In the coming weeks, it might not be possible for the relevant people to make site visits to ensure utility consumption is optimised to match the specific needs during the period the restrictions on movement are in place so now is the time for action.

Clients should contact their Account Manager directly if they have any questions or concerns that have not already been addressed. New enquiries can be made about our services by calling the office on 01454 281 607 or contact us here.

BP sets target to cut carbon emissions to net zero by 2050

The new boss of BP is promising to reduce the company’s greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 or sooner. The plans also include cutting the carbon intensity of BP products by 50 per cent over the same timeline. Bernard Looney, who took over as chief executive last week, says it “will certainly be a challenge, but also a tremendous opportunity”. He says the company needs to “reinvent” itself to keep up as the world transitions to cleaner forms of energy.

The new boss says he’ll overhaul the organisation’s structure to help achieve this pledge, and in the long term there’ll be more investment in low carbon businesses and less in oil and gas. BP is yet to outline how rapid reductions will be made to hit the net zero target, but further information is expected to be announced in the coming months.

BP isn’t the first energy giant to pledge to cut it’s emissions – Royal Dutch and Total have both made similar promises, however BP’s target is more ambitious. The company has faced growing criticism from the public over its involvement in the climate crisis, including a number of protests at its offices in London. Greenpeace says “averting climate catastrophe can’t wait and claims the plans aren’t “ambitious or anywhere near enough”.

HS2 gets the green light from Boris Johnson

The Prime Minister has given the go ahead to the controversial HS2 project that could cost the country more than £100 billion. The announcement means work will continue on the first part of the high-speed railway project connecting London to Birmingham, before the second phase to Manchester and Leeds.

This decision puts an end to months of back and forth over the future of the project, which one government official describes as the “biggest infrastructure decision since World War Two”. Boris Johnson says it’s been a “controversial and difficult decision”, and that a full-time minister is being appointed to oversee the project. There’s been concerns from both Conservative and Labour MPs over the exact route, as well as how delayed and over budget the whole project is. But supporters of the scheme say it will create jobs, reduce over crowding on trains and help rebalance the UK’s economy.

The new line is expected to make journeys a lot quicker, and allow trains to carry up to 1,100 people and reach speeds of up to 250mph. It’s also thought there’ll be as many as 14 running per hour in each direction. The Department of Transport says travelling between London and Birmingham will be cut from one hour 21 minutes to 52 minutes. This first part of the high-speed rail link was due to open by the end of 2026, however Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, told MPs in September 2019 that it may now be 2028-2031 before the first trains run on the route. The second phase to Manchester and Leeds was expected to open on 2032-2033 but has been pushed back to 2035-2040.