In 2018, Birmingham City Council (BCC) appointed West Mercia Energy (WME) as their new gas and electricity framework provider. They opted for WME’s Procurement Only service provision with the contract commencing on the 1st April 2019. We caught up with BCC to review the first year of their new contract.
Switching suppliers on large complex portfolios can be challenging. How was your experience of the transfer process?
BCC has a significant portfolio, well in excess of 2,000 supplies, including corporate sites, streetlighting and schools, so managing this this was understandably our biggest apprehension in changing suppliers.
The management of this process was excellent. An ‘onboarding plan’ was put in place at the very beginning and regular progress meetings took place between all relevant parties.
Once the transfer application process began, we were provided with regular progress reports throughout. In summary, the whole onboarding process was a success, which is no mean feat when you consider the size and complexity of our energy portfolio.
What have been the key benefits to BCC since the move to WME?
WME has brought a range of benefits to us as a Council, but also to our considerable number of contracted schools. We are particularly pleased with the comprehensive budgetary information provided throughout the year which helps us inform our schools of their upcoming budgets. We receive final pricing well in advance of the new FY, this despite us running more than one trading strategy for our portfolio.
In addition, we receive regular MIS reporting from the framework supplier, Total Gas and Power (TGP), which helps us manage our portfolio more thoroughly, particularly our school sites. Billing is timely and accurate, and queries are managed and resolved in a timely manner by a dedicated CRM team.
What has been the biggest challenges to overcome in the first year of working with WME?
The biggest challenge was getting the portfolio in a position to transfer. Managing a large public sector portfolio can be difficult to keep on top of with the high churn of buildings being removed and added to the portfolio all of the time. We have a large number of schools who utilise the Councils corporate contract and checking key school contacts took some time and resource.
What advice would you give other Public Bodies considering switching providers?
Do not just stick with your incumbent framework provider / energy supplier because that is who you have always used. There may be better out there.
In addition, ensure you have a good grip on your starting portfolio. An accurate list of meter numbers, site addresses etc. Billing addresses and AQ’s are also really important. Where we had gaps, WME and TGP were extremely helpful in sourcing information from national databases, liaising with our incumbent suppliers and supporting us in any way they could to gather any missing information.
How have you found the support from the WME framework supplier, Total Gas and Power?
TGP have been excellent. They have been ever present at meetings and their suite of reporting provides everything we need to manage our portfolio. It is clear that they have an excellent relationship with WME, with each having clear and defined roles to successfully deliver the contract. This has no doubt aided the successful implementation of our new energy contract.
Finally, would you recommend West Mercia Energy to other public sector organisations?
Absolutely. The support we have received from the day we signed the contract to date has been excellent. WME are a personable and proactive company and nothing we have asked of them has been too much. They have gone above and beyond our expectations of what is required to support our contract. We are surprised at the level of support provided under a ‘Procurement Only’ service provision.
They provide a high quality and professional energy provision and the service we have received from both them, and their framework supplier, Total Gas & Power has been first class. We have no hesitation in recommending WME to other public sector organisations.
Gavin Owen, Business Development Manager for West Mercia Energy added “We are delighted with the feedback received from our first year working with Birmingham City Council, the largest Local Authority in the UK. It is a testament to the hard work of all involved to date“.
West Mercia Energy is a leading purchasing organisation jointly owned by four Local Authorities. With over 25 years’ experience successfully managing energy contracts for the public sector, WME specialise in managing large multi-site portfolios throughout the public sector working with Local Authorities, Town & District Councils, Blue Light Services, circa 2,000 education establishments and the NHS.
While BCC opted for WME’s ‘Procurement Only’ service, the majority of WME’s customers opt for their Fully Managed service provision. In addition to OJEU compliant frameworks and risk managed energy procurement, this offering includes bill validation, siteworks, account management, energy monitoring platforms amongst much more.