The Go Green Dilemma

In Malaysia, there’s so much talk about going green and use of renewable energy (RE) more to meet our electricity and power needs – be it for households, business offices and factories. The most common RE is solar. Other popular RE are wind, biogas, biomass and thermal, hydro – mostly used in large scale operations like plantation and factories.

Source: http://www.seda.gov.my/about-seda/re-programmes/

Here I’d like to discuss some about solar as it covers residential – the people. Further search on Google, there are actually a lot of solar companies available in Malaysia – more than 20! I listed some down here:

  • ERS
  • Pekat Teknologi
  • Plus Solar
  • Solar Vest
  • Ditrolic Solar
  • Sols Energy
  • Ray Go Solar
  • Solar System Malaysia
  • MAQO Group
  • Simpli Solar

Some of these companies listed above provide only for business buildings and factories, some cover residential as well. There has been slow take up rate from the residential customers, although many claims that the solar photovoltaic (PV) panel is getting cheaper.

“Solar technology has matured and costs have become more competitive. Solar PV panel prices has fell 80% since 2009,” she said, adding that this is also one reason quota for solar is no longer offered under the fit-in-tariff (FiT) mechanism.

– YB Yeo Bee Yin, Minister MESTECC, Malaysia

Upon checking, on average the price of outright purchase of the PV panel is around RM 25,000 (USD 1 = RM 4.3) for residential houses. For factories it is more because the Kw (kilowatt) will be higher.

There’s also some incentives under the RE incentives provided by the government. However the incentives will be claimed by the solar providers because they will help the customers with FREE roof suitability and installation if suitable (roof angle and access issues).

There are companies offer solar leasing package, therefore customers do not need ot pay any single cent throughout period (depend on the providers). This package is a standard leased agreement called SARE (Supply Agreement for Renewable Energy). Typically the lease will be for 10-20 years. The best part in this period, customers do not need to pay any money, downpayment or installment to enjoy the benefits. This include maintenance and warranty of the system altogether.

Source: http://clipart-library.com/download-solar-panel-gif.html

Will this reduce your electricity bill? According to most solar providers, your electricity will go lower by 5-25% on your consumption before solar. In other words, this lower bill isn’t on monthly basis once you used solar. You get to save the planet along the way! Some providers claim you can save RM 200/month for 21 years (that will add up to RM 48,000). Again, I think this kind of sales-pitch needs clear evidence or stated in the contract; because once you signed, ehem it will be very difficult to get out; perhaps? 😉

Additionally, let say, you have great roof for sun radiation and you generated more solar than you need or use, you can trade (sell) this extra power back to the provider and earn some income. This package is called Net Energy Metering (NEM) scheme. In NEM scheme as explained by the Minister of MESTECC, YB Yeo, there’ll be no price difference in buy and purchase of solar tariffs.

Source: https://www.simplisolar.com/site/resources/what-is-net-energy-metering-nem/

However, as a customer I still have concerns with the design of the contract. Especially it is about getting into contract for 10-20 years, it is actually very long. As it is, car hire purchase is long enough (7-9 years). My challenge is I couldn’t find the exact figure of the fine details to these questions:

  1. What if the solar installed didn’t bring much value in savings for me? Can I change back to normal power supply?
  2. How much supply coming from solar do I need as residential customer? Is it 100% or 80%? How much do I need to pay for the additional cost difference for normal power supply?
  3. What if the solar provider close down? What is my risk?
  4. What if I wanted to sell the house? Will my solar agreement stuck there to new tenant? Or I can take it with me to my new house?
  5. Since the leasing is with Third Part Operator (TPO), what is the cost of change of tenancy (COT)?
  6. How much do I need to pay to get out of the contract?
  7. Does this package have insurance covering the system?
  8. Is there any fee to become NEM provider? Because supply and sell back the power is two different component, am I right to think this way?
  9. What if the person who sign the contract passed away? And I have to sell the property and get out of the solar contract, how do I do this?
  10. Over 10-20 years in the contract, the PV panel price is going down lower and becoming more efficient, would the customer get upgrade included in the package or stuck with the old technology?

“Consumers want to go green, but above all we want to save money.”

– Consumers
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“It is common for all of us to seek our own path to success as we defined it. Time waits for no one.”

“While allowing room for failures is encouraged, employees should also be trained to be courageous to admit mistakes and pick up slacks.”

“Eventually, the core business will mature and stops growing. The owner should invest in parallel several years earlier in the next growth business so they are ready when the core stalled and profit would already be taking over as the next engine of growth.”

When Costs Kiss Goodbye!

Image credit: Kraft Heinz loses a lot of cheese as earnings send stock plunging to …

Interesting article about an investment company (private equity firm) that acquire food businesses (Heinz & Kraft Foods) back in 2013 and 2015 respectively. The firm believed these two companies could unlock more values by using ruthless focus on efficiency. They quickly employed radical cost cutting programs.

They fired thousands of workers, shutdown factories, used zero-based budgeting model (justify cost without regard of previous year spending), remove refrigerators (pantry) in the HQ known for stocking cheese sticks, set default settings of office printers (double sided with black toner) and limit meals spending during travel to $50 a day. Guess what happened next?

These initiatives and cost program led to industry-leading profit margins in less than 2 years! The stock price went up to more than $90 in 2017! See below.

Screenshot 2019-05-18 at 12.55.51 AM

Screenshot 2019-05-18 at 12.55.21 AM

But, unfortunately, it went to nose dive after all the radical cost programs deployed. From my research, Kraft Heinz overlooked the marketing bit, product innovations for their changing customers segments and valuable employees feedback that know how to run your operations especially in different market segments and countries.

Sometimes, big brands and companies make tactical mistakes like this. No doubt long history companies tend to have opportunities to go leaner that it was; things usually get complacent after awhile.

One of the videos, check it out.

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/22/kraft-heinz-backers-face-reality-brutal-cost-cutting-isnt-enough.html

Lessons that we could take from here are:

  1. Look at at products and services innovations as growth strategy: There are probably a host of products that could be making money or probably there’d discover that most of the products are obsolete to modern customers. For the record, Kraft Heinz launched new products such as organic version of Capri Sun and expanded its condiment businesses. They tried, probably not enough time to see it through, perhaps these new lineups will grow later.
  1. People are not measured by their salary or price tag, rather by their value brings to the business: I tried looking for some human capital development strategies when the equity firm bought Kraft & Heinz, but I couldn’t find any. Although I may not a fan of “total spoon-feed your talent because you care”, I do believe the management should consider taking longer time to lay offs to ensure the tacit knowledge is transferred to the business. You should pay high for someone that could do more and pay less for someone who can only do routine work.
  1. There’s only so much you can do with cost efficiencies: Key for growth is innovation. I’d expect big brands and companies, should invest in ruthless innovation focus in three areas. First, new products and services that reflect current and future customers needs and wants. Second, leaner processes and automation to bringdown redundancies in capital & assets deployed and reduce wastages. Third, to find market creations opportunities that will need to be invested and R&D. You can read more about this from Clayton Christensen book titled, “The Prosperity Paradox”.

Innovations are for growth. Companies need to spend and invest together with their workforce to improve capability and capacity to innovate. I do hope to see Kraft Heinz able to come out from this plunge and see this only temporarily.

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