How green is your electricity company?

Rooftop solar has grown in popularity across the world.  It is common to see solar panels soaking up the sunlight and supplying renewable energy to households.   

But let’s get real. Not everyone can install solar panels. 

Rooftop solar systems require a significant upfront investment. While the systems will pay for themselves over time (approximately 4 years), not everyone has the money to invest in a new rooftop solar system. 

It is also increasingly common for people to be renting their properties. For renters it is up to the discretion of property owners as to whether they want to install solar panels.  And it isn’t likely a new rooftop solar system is high on the priority list of many landlords. 

What else can we do?

We can purchase our electricity from a retailer that is getting their energy from renewable sources. 

Most energy companies are moving in this direction, albeit some faster than others.  Unfortunately in the energy market it is hard to tell what is slick advertising and what it real.

Fortunately in Australia we don’t have to…    Introducing the Green Electricity Guide!

The Green Electricity Guide provides a state by state ranking of electricity retailers against a clear set of criteria. These criteria are: carbon emissions; support for energy sector decarbonisation; carbon offset products; support for local energy projects and renewable energy; fossil fuel policy and investment; energy efficiency and demand response; and corporate sustainability, responsibility and transparency. 

The Green Energy Guide does all the hard work for you. Did you know there are energy retailers that are only buying their electricity from renewable sources? Did you know that these providers have comparable prices to other electricity retailers? 

There are some in the energy sector that have spent considerable time and resources trying to convince the public that renewable energy is more expensive and will result in higher electricity bills compared to electricity generated from fossil fuels.  As consumers of electricity we need to look beyond the marketing and make informed choices about the products we buy.

Investment in renewable energy continues to grow and in Australia renewable energy accounts for 21% of all energy produced. The biggest renewable contributors are hydro, wind and small scale solar (i.e. rooftop solar).  The CSIRO has also found that the cost of new wind and solar is lower than the cost of new coal generation.

As consumers where we choose to spend our money can have a big impact on the products available in the market. If we can get an equivalent deal from a retailer whose values better align with ours we should do it.

Why we take action

By choosing an electricity retailer that is buying their electricity from renewable sources, you are helping to get more clean energy into the grid and supporting the transition to renewable energy.   

Switching electricity company is just like switching away from banks and super funds that invest in fossil fuels. It sends a strong message about consumer values and when it impacts on sales and revenue, companies will take notice. 

How we can take action

  • Check how your electricity retailer stacks up on the Green Electricity Guide.  
  • If your electricity retailer doesn’t align with your values, change to one that does.
  • If you can’t change electricity retailer, find out if your retailer has a renewable option that you can choose.     

Choice, (2019). Solar Panel payback time. Retrieved from URL http://www.choice.com.au/home-improvement/energy-saving/solar/articles/solar-panel-payback-times

CSIRO, media release, Annual update finds renewables are cheapest new build power, 21 December 2018, http://www.csiro.au/en/News/News-releases/2018/Annual-update-finds-renewables-are-cheapest-new-build-power

The Total Environment Centre & Greenpeace Australia, (2018). The Green Electricity Guide. Retrieved from URL www.greenelectricityguide.org.au