Veolia has warned that 99% of large companies in the UK are at risk of incurring penalties because they have not yet submitted energy audits.
A freedom of information request to the Environment Agency by the firm found 150 companies out of 10,000 had submitted audits as part of ESOS, the UK response to the EU’s Energy Efficiency Directive, with less than three months to a specified deadline.
Organisations employing more than 250 people, with an annual turnover in excess of £39m or an annual balance sheet over £33m, have to complete the audit every four years.
Those not submitting their responses before the 5 December deadline face a basic fine of £50,000, plus £800 a day capped at a maximum of 80 days, if they do not comply.
Overall, Veolia estimates that up to 10,000 unsuspecting UK companies could be heading for total fines of over £900m if they fail to comply with the scheme.
Veolia UK’s chief operating officer for industrial customers, Pat Gilroy (pictured), said: “Even with the push to inform businesses it seems almost impossible that thousands of businesses will have their audits in on time.
“Part of the problem is that there is a colossal shortfall in the number of qualified auditors – an issue that is likely to get worse as the deadline approaches.
“Not only are these companies risking fines, they are also missing out on the chance to reduce overheads by cutting their energy bills.”
ESOS is aimed at helping these firms better understand their energy use so they save money and reduce the UK’s carbon footprint.
To raise awareness of the scheme and the risk of potential fines for non-compliance the EA, has spoken at events and on webinars and provided a guidance and helpdesk service since June 2014.
It has also sent two letters to directors of more than 14,000 individual entities it believes are likely to qualify.
Veolia carries out ESOS assessments examining energy use for buildings, transport and industrial or commercial processes.