The survey, which tracks business opinion on energy use and carbon emissions, found energy was rated at six out of 10 in terms of the risk it places on businesses, second only to cash flow and legislative risks.
For major energy users specifically, energy was seen as the primary business risk, outstripping even staff and cash risks, typically among businesses' principal considerations.
Half of businesses said energy risks have become higher-profile in their organisation in the past three years as the considerations around energy use multiply.
Despite the priority attached to energy, strategies for managing energy risk are less developed than for all the other risks businesses face. Just 65% of respondents said they have a strategy for managing energy risks compared with 81% that have plans in place for cash risks and 80% for health and safety risks.
Dave Cockshott, corporate markets director at Npower said: "The way in which energy is used is changing rapidly and businesses are facing new pressures all the time. Price volatility, carbon reduction, climate change legislation, reputation and security of supply are now among the chief concerns that businesses face in their energy use, many of which have increased exponentially in the past five years. It's making it increasingly important that energy is managed with the same priority and detail as all other risks businesses face - it can no longer be a secondary consideration."