If you have been trying to get a better deal on electricity in Australia recently you will know how difficult it is to sort out fact from fiction. We have been increasingly concerned that our electricity supplier had a poor reputation in terms of investing in renewables, and even working against initiatives to improve the renewable energy sector in Australia.
Who is the most ethical electricity company in NSW (where we are based)?
Who has the best green power credentials in Australia?
These are the questions we have been asking.
We have been a bit complacent, resting on our laurels perhaps, because we have solar panels and we have been on 100% accredited green power for many years. However, we started to have concerns about the ethics of the company that handles our account. We want every cent possible to go towards a renewable future, not coal. As we started to look into it, the bamboozlement began!
In Australia the previous Federal Government had committed the nation to generating at least 20% of Australia’s electricity from clean energy sources by 2020. This was being driven in part by the Renewable Energy Target (RET). These types of policies help create the economic climate for investment into renewables – good for the climate, the environment and the economy.
Unfortunately, even as the renewable energy sector is beginning to overtake fossil fuel investments worldwide, the big companies and the usual lobby groups are trying to reduce clean energy targets and policies (such as the RET).
When even China is talking about implementing a price on carbon and cutting emissions, and at the same time heavily investing in renewable energy, here in Australia we continue the head-in-the-sand approach.
The Australian Conservation Foundation has done some research recently that demonstrates the lacklustre renewable commitment of most power companies in Australia. To summarise the results (ACF: Jan.2013):
Diamond Energy: This has the most constructive RET policies for clean energy development, with qualifications.
ActewAGL, AGL Energy, Momentum Energy, Power Direct: These companies have policies that are mixed between those likely to support the development and those that are likely to hinder the development of clean energy.
Country Energy, Integral Energy, Origin Energy, Energy Australia: Have policies that are more likely to hinder the development of clean energy.
So what to do?
It seems getting solar panels or other local renewable technologies (other than the usual power saving techniques like better insulation, double-glazing etc) is a great thing to do. Also, if you elect to buy Government accredited green energy from your retailer (100% or packages for less, such as 50%, 10% etc) this definitely is bringing energy from renewable sources and is an investment in a renewable future. The cost is a little bit more for your household, but the effects are much, much greater out there in the ‘market’ and for the future.
As for us, we’ve changed companies and kept up the green energy. We are still confused but content with the best of a less-than-ideal situation. Good luck and don’t get too disillusioned as every bit helps!