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British companies rate energy supply and costs as a top risk factor to their business, an RWE npower survey showed on Monday, 10 days after a second major British energy supplier announced double-digit tariff increases from this summer.

Three hundred major and small energy user companies counted energy as a top risk concern, next to sales and legislation, in RWE npower’s Business Energy Index 2011, while only 66 percent said they had a strategy to manage it.

“It is worrying that while businesses have identified that risks associated with energy — from security of supply to cost — pose a real threat to their immediate and future operations, many have admitted to not having a strategy in place to manage it,” said David Cockshott, director of industrial and commercial markets at the utility company.

UK businesses and households can expect hefty energy bill increases over the next months as two of Britain’s six biggest energy suppliers have already announced price increases and others are expected to follow.

Major energy users own more on-site energy generation facilities than small users, a way to avoid exposure to utility tariff fluctuations, but overall less than half of companies interviewed said they used self-generation technology.

Of those technologies that are used onsite, combined-heat and power plants were the main choice, while wind turbines were the least favourite, closely followed by biomass.

Nearly two thirds of companies which do not use on-site generation said it was not a company priority, but lack of finance and management resources were also mentioned as reasons.

Reuters, 18 July 2011