Q&A: Paul Sheffield, chief operating officer, Haven Power
“Haven has an enviable reputation for excellence in customer service, with teams built around customers’ needs. Everything we do is about making power work for businesses. I’m looking forward to building on that.”
Earlier this month, Paul Sheffield joined Haven Power as its new chief operating officer. Here, he speaks with Utility Week about the opportunities and challenges his new role presents.
You have described Haven power’s market position as “enviable” – in what ways and how do you plan to enhance it?
Haven Power is one of the largest B2B electricity suppliers by volume. For the very largest customer segment of the market (>30 GWh pa), we are the third biggest, behind EDF Energy and Npower – and have the fifth largest market share for B2B electricity suppliers over all.
The business has grown rapidly on the back of its reputation for customer service, from dedicated account managers to the provision of flexible contracts where we can offer a range of highly tailored billing, pricing and site grouping structures. It is also a very agile business, nimble enough to take advantage of emerging trends and technologies in the industry to create innovative solutions for customers. I have spent many years at EDF Energy, seeing Haven Power as the main challenger and the one to watch.
Haven has worked hard over the years to build a strong technical capability that can deliver tailored pricing and billing for customers. Now we are also beginning to offer highly tailored added value services.
What makes Haven Power interesting is the belief that energy can be simpler and being sustainable can be a driver of success for business customers. Many businesses find dealing with energy a drain on resources; the time and effort required outweighing the benefit. I want to build on Haven’s agility and customer focus, to work with customers to create individual solutions that meet their specific needs and help them be more sustainable. Haven already offers cost effective reliable renewable power. We are now also trialling innovation workshops with some customers to help develop solutions that are right for them.
Where do you see the most exciting opportunities in the B2B energy market?
There are emerging technologies and services already in the market that could help customers to change how they use energy and benefit, although not all the opportunities are understood. Haven Power is helping customers to navigate the possibilities. Just recently for example we teamed up with Kiwi Power and now offer a leading Demand Side Response service. We aim to bring other similar opportunities and services to the market which will help unlock significant value for customers by being more sustainable.
How much difference has the introduction of half hourly settlement made to the B2B market?
Half Hourly settlement provides significantly more data that will help both suppliers and customers achieve their efficiency and sustainability goals. Further innovation is required though. Half Hourly settlement will enable more sophisticated tariffs which provide greater cost reflectivity through seasonal and time of day pricing structures. Customers will have the opportunity to respond to prices through adjusting their consumption patterns. Haven is ready for the challenge and aims to simplify the complexities with clear products and services that help customers to realise the benefits.
What do you believe matters most to business energy customers?
I believe that all businesses are concerned with efficient use of their resources to drive growth. Not every business will have the people or time to deal with energy supply. Even fewer will have the time to think about how much they are using or spending on energy, unless they have to. The reality is that dealing with energy can often feel like a drain on valuable time and resources that could be better spent elsewhere. At Haven Power we are focussed on making energy simpler and easier for customers; we want to take out all the effort by being really clear, keeping our products simple (including minimising the jargon) and focussing on improving technology and customer services to make energy easier.
What are the biggest blockers to the delivery of innovation in the B2B energy market – how will you help Haven Power to overcome them?
Some of the biggest blockers are the fragmented technologies which have arisen out of the race to innovate. Nor does everyone understand what is possible which means some customers are struggling to create a vision of their energy future. There are also limits to the resources available to focus on energy as customers concentrate on their businesses in markets that are increasingly competitive. At Haven, we are looking to minimise the effort needed to make meaningful changes through our focus on innovation, the expertise that sits across the Drax Group, and the partnerships we create with our customers. In this way, we believe we will help customers find the right solution for them.
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