Companies in UK, failing to register their energy use by next month will attract fines that could reach £45,000 under little-known rules, while those that participate in the carbon reduction commitment (CRC) initiative by declaring their energy use will face charges for every ton of greenhouse gas they produce.
The payments could on an average be £38,000 a year for medium-sized firms reaching up to £100,000 for larger organisations.
According to surveys thousands of businesses remain unaware that they are expected to be participating or even about the existence of the scheme.
According to analysts, the imposition of new charges and fines would burden businesses when economists are warning of a 'double-dip' recession with companies, consumers and the public sector cutting their spending.
The CRC has come in for criticism from business leaders for being 'complex and bureaucratic' and one accused ministers of grievously hurting companies and questioned whether the CRC would deliver any environmental benefits.
Under the scheme, companies and public sector organisations that consume more than 6,000 MWh of energy a year, i.e. companies that incur a power bill of about £500,000 are required to register their energy use by next month end and from April, firms would be required to buy permits for each tonne of carbon dioxide emitted.
The scheme is intended to offer financial incentives to cut energy use, and those organisations that achieve the biggest reductions will get bonuses, while the worst performers will be pernalised. The penalties collected will serve to fund the best performers' bonuses.
Of the around 4,000 organisations estimated to qualify for the scheme, only 1,229 have registered to date, which means thousands run the risk of being fined.