ESSA sees no benefit in NEC pushing its Plug and Play
by Annie Byrne
The Event Services and Suppliers Association (ESSA) has hit out at the Birmingham NEC’s plans to push through a new two-tier electrical pricing structure.The two-tier structure, aimed at event organisers from 1 April, has the standard electrical tariff alongside a cheaper option, available if organisers use its Plug and Play system. Plug and Play is being made available with a 2.5 per cent price reduction.Plug and Play allows exhibitors to draw power directly by plugging into fixed sockets set into under-floor ducts in the NEC’s halls. However ESSA, which has been in close discussions over Plug and Play on behalf of its electrical contractor members, is upset this decision has been taken and says it fails to see any tangible benefits for organisers or exhibitors."Since talks with the NEC began, it has always been commented that the new infrastructure is state-of-the-art. However, after over two years, the NEC has yet to satisfactorily answer over 20 serious and fundamental concerns raised by the contractors who would be expected to use the new system," a spokesperson for ESSA’s contractor members tells Exhibition News. "The most important of these remain [those connected with] the effective reduction in build up and break down times and the associated increases in cost to operate at the venue. Customers of the NEC, and ESSA members, would like to see the existing tariff remain in place indefinitely and not be removed or to find themselves financially levered into accepting the reduced tariff."MD of the NEC, Kathryn James, said: "We understand the concerns from ESSA over the consultation process relating to our Plug and Play system. This has led us to offer both the ‘business as usual’ and new methods side-by-side. But it is hoped that other members of the contracting community will begin to see the benefits of this system and we will be able to extend the offer, provide further incentives and move towards the use of a system that we see as being categorically the future of the industry."