Thursday, June 03, 2010

CRC - do you need to buy allowances next April?

The CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme which came into effect on 1st April 2010 is a sort of carbon-trading system for larger organisations. I say “sort of” because the government sells carbon allowances in April and gives all the money back in October. Those organisations which do really well in controlling their emissions, and hence find themselves at the top of the league table (more of that later!), will get their money back with a bonus of up to 10%. In order to pay these bonuses those who do less well will be penalised to the same extent. Over 5 years this bonus/penalty will rise to 50%.

Let’s look at the first year. In April 2011 you have to buy allowances to cover your EXPECTED emissions in 2011/12. In October 2011 the cost of those allowances will be returned to you with a bonus or penalty depending on your ACTUAL performance in 2010/11. Your cost is therefore the cost of having your money tied up from April to October, offset or increased by the bonus/penalty. This bonus/penalty, by the way, at 10% of your allowances will be less than 0.7% of your energy bill.

What if you don’t buy any allowances next April? You don’t have to surrender them until July 2012 and there will be another sale of allowances in April 2012. By then you will know exactly how much you need and allowances can be transferred from year to year within each phase. If you adopt this procedure you will defer the cash flow effect (not increase it, because you will not buy anything for the following year either. When you get to the end of Phase 1 you can buy exactly the allowances you need, which is important because if you have any extras they cannot be carried into Phase 2 and so will be worthless.

Of course, if you do this you’ll miss out on a possible bonus in Year 1, but is 0.7% of your bill such a big deal?