Goulburn Valley Region Water Corporation, trades as Goulburn Valley Water, and is a Victorian state-owned Government Business Enterprise (GBE). As a statutory corporation, they are responsible to the Minister for Water and operate under the Water Act 1989 and Water Industry Act 1994.
Goulburn Valley Water (GVW) provides water and wastewater services across 54 towns, to a population of 125,000. From the outskirts of Melbourne in the south, to the Murray River in the north, their operating area covers approximately 20,000km2.
Delivery of these services includes the management of 37 water supply systems and 26 wastewater management facilities.
Their energy needs are extensive and complex and accounts for some of their biggest operating costs annually.
Nathan Epp - Senior Engineer - Energy & Commercial Projects, joined Goulburn Valley Water (GVW) in 2013 and was charged with maintaining their assets in the most energy efficient way.
“I’m an engineer by trade so I brought a technical perspective with me when I started the job. I knew that to achieve efficiencies we needed to be able to measure our results and find some way of overcoming the complexity of our current energy contracts.
460 sites, 2,060 invoices p.a., 12 network tariffs and multiple network service providers and retail contracts – it was a ‘dogs breakfast!
We swung between feeling starved for information to being swamped in data, much of which was meaningless or inaccurate.
The opportunity for greater efficiency was there – we just needed to regain control over the where/why/how behind our energy retailer relationships.”
A lucky coincidence or perhaps some foresight by a past staff member meant that a Smart Power brochure had been kept on file and was casually passed on to Nathan when he began this investigation.
“I’ll admit that initially I was reluctant to seek help from an external partner, as an engineer surely I was capable of doing this myself? But I’m certainly glad I took the time to explore all the options!
I contacted Rod at Smart Power and I was immediately impressed by his approach. What you see is what you get with Rod and the Smart Power team and it was immediately apparent that they could bring an extra level of experience and speciality expertise to our business.
As a state-owned Government business, we were required to competitively tender our energy management contract and that provided another opportunity to be impressed by Smart Power’s approach.
Throughout the tender process their competitors didn’t come close. Smart Power were best on price but that’s not actually what won them the contract.
According to Nathan it was Smart Power’s genuine, honest business model that set them apart. “They were up against some major and very large energy management providers but I felt confident that it was Smart Power who actually understood our unique needs and would work alongside us. The solutions they proposed were clear and the execution and reporting processes were simple and transparent.
Once we’d signed the deal the benefits started flowing in quickly.
We had had one person in our accounts department who was devoted to paying our numerous energy accounts. We were getting more than 2,000 bills a year and our Rosemary was wanting to retire!
Within 3 months of having Smart Power on board they consolidated our billing processes and Rosemary could move on and enjoy her hard-earned retirement.
With Smart Power streamlining our billing processes that resource could be reallocated into other areas of need within our business.
The next area of success appeared soon after Smart Power began monitoring our connections and checking the accuracy of our accounts and the tariffs we’d been assigned.
This resulted in an immediate saving of around $270k per annum!
The process of achieving this has helped us put the onus back on our energy retailers to be accurate and honest in their delivery, which in turn means we are able to confidently report back to our stakeholders and reassure our Government partners that efficiency is being achieved.
It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Smart Power have saved us around $1million since our partnership began in 2014.
Ongoing management and monitoring of our connections has been maintained and we have found Smart Power’s e-smart reporting function to be a useful tool. It’s not ‘flash’ as such but it is effective and contemporary and does what it needs to do. It’s authentic – which in my opinion is an effective way to describe Smart Power’s business philosophy.
Our partnership evolved quickly and we were soon taking advantage of Smart Power’s expertise in the retailer space too – we now rely on Smart Power to manage all our new connections and disconnections.
Their industry reputation gives us the confidence that these things will be sorted swiftly and with minimal if any disruption to our operations.
A recent development in our working partnership has been Smart Power re-procuring all our energy contracts on our behalf. This has resulted in savings in the vicinity of $100K and we have also taken on Spot Market pricing for our major sites.
We were able to successfully build the business case to do this thanks to Smart Power’s expert advice.
Looking back over the last Three years, I feel like our partnership with the whole team at Smart Power has grown into a professional friendship. They have become a trusted sounding board. They are always accessible and I can count on them to support me with an informed and detailed understanding of the what is a volatile industry here in Australia.
Our partnership with Smart Power is one based on exceptional trust. It’s not a fixed thing or a contract, it’s an agile relationship – Smart Power are an extension of our business.
Their independent status within the sector is important because it tells us that their advice is always based purely on looking after our best interests, for the long term.
I don’t hesitate in recommending Smart Power to others, in fact I had the opportunity to present to peak industry association VicWater recently on the value our partnership has brought to our business.
I believe the following questions are a good test for whether you as a business could benefit from partnering with Smart Power.
How many sites and connections do you have? Are you sure? Are they all on the correct tariff? Are you sure?
With Smart Power on board I know that Goulburn Valley Water can be sure and this certainty has saved us around $1 million dollars in the last 3 years.
Nathan Epp, Senior Engineer, Energy & Commercial Projects at Goulburn Valley Water was interviewed by Rebecca Hendl-Smith freelance communications consultant. – September 2017