Haven powers ahead with new HQ

THE new headquarters of an energy supply firm dedicated to the small business sector was officially opened yesterday by Shadow Secretary of State for Business & Energy, Alan Duncan MP.

THE new headquarters of an energy supply firm dedicated to the small business sector was officially opened yesterday by Shadow Secretary of State for Business & Energy, Alan Duncan MP

Ipswich-based Haven Power, in which the privately-owned Welsh Power Group is the majority shareholder, was established in 2006 and began targeting customers in March last year.

In little more than a year it has built up a customer base of around 10,000 users, including operations such as doctors' surgeries and sports clubs as well as small businesses.

Peter Bennell, chief executive of Haven Power - who, together with a number of his senior colleagues, spent part of his earlier career with Eastern Electricity - said it had been decided to base the new company in Ipswich due to the number of local people with experience in the electricity industry.

Having started out with just six people, the workforce has already grown to around 100, of whom 60 are based at the offices in Ipswich, and is expected to double again in the next year - ironically at a time when E.ON is on the point of closing the former Eastern Electricity headquarters at Wherstead Park.

Although many of Haven's customers are located in East Anglia, it has secured small business clients from the North-East to Cornwall, selling through a combination of field sales staff, a telephone sales unit in Ipswich and power brokers.

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Haven sources much of the electricity it supplies from Welsh Power, which runs a “clean” coal-fired power station and is also developing a gas-fired plant and three wood-chip powered units. Haven's ownership by Welsh Power also gives it additional critical mass when purchasing energy in the wholesale markets.

The company's new headquarters, at The Havens, on Ransomes Europark, was built by Colchester-based contractor Hills and included a number of energy-saving features, including self-dimming lights and an air conditioning system which makes use of cold air from outside when available.

Mr Bennell said the invitation to Mr Duncan to perform the opening ceremony - by unveiling a plaque mounted on a slab of Welsh slate - was an appropriate one with Haven Power being a product of the privatisation of the energy industry under the then Conservative government in the 1980s.

Mr Duncan - who was an oil trader before becoming an MP - said the creation of an efficient and effective market in the supply of electricity was still in progress and the development of firms such as Haven Power had an important role to play in increasing the level of competition.

He described Haven Power as “a fantastic and fast-growing success story” but warned that the increase in energy prices, combined with pressures in the mortgage market and declining house prices, posed the risk of a serious downturn in the economy, which the Government was in no position to counter having “squandered” 14 years of economic growth.