FRIDAY 24 OCTOBER, 2008 |
Avoiding Geen Electricity Scams
Buying green power directly from a utility has been the popular choice for some people as
over the short term it's a good deal cheaper than having a solar power system
installed on a home; even with generous renewable
Once suitable feed in tariffs
are introduced nation-wide that pay premium
rates to grid connected solar system owners for all the electricity they
introduce, this will likely change dramatically. Some states already have
introduced feed in tariff schemes to make uptake more attractive, but many
people do not realize this.
Until a national program is in place and current feed in tariffs better
publicized, paying an
extra cost to an electricity utility for renewable
can be a viable way for environmentally
conscious consumers to help offset their energy related carbon impact.
However, the green products offered by electricity companies both here and
overseas have come under increased scrutiny in the press, with some going so far
to label these programs as simply cons, scams and greenwashing.
A recent example was mentioned on The Guardian
- the article claims that many
consumers in the UK are already paying for green electricity within standard
bills as part of the British government forcing the utilities to source a
certain amount of their electricity from renewable sources each year. So
effectively, they are selling this renewable sourced electricity twice.
The problem has become so bad that the British government is currently
discussing the implementation of a mandatory system of labelling and an
independent auditor for green tariffs.
Here in Australia, it's a little easier for consumers to sort out the green
from the greenwashing with programs such as GreenPower accreditation and
services such as Green Electricity
. The free GEW service provides a
ranking of green electricity products. Green Electricity Watch is a coalition of
three leading Australian environment organisations: the Australian Conservation
Foundation, Total Environment Centre, and WWF-Australia.
The listings are quite comprehensive, but only cover those utilities offering
products. The five-start scoring system covers three areas;
the benefit to renewable energy projects, encouragement of green power uptake and
clarity of information. Penalties are applied for misleading advertising and
Consumers pay up to 12.1c extra per kilowatt in these green electricity
programs, so it certainly does pay to check out resources such as Green
Electricity Watch to ensure they are getting the best result for their money.
According to the comparison charts on the GEW site, paying the highest rate by no means
guarantees the "greenest" product, nor does selecting a plan from the
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