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If you, like me, want to be part of the movement which is driving actual...

If you, like me, want to be part of the movement which is driving actual industry change within the energy industry in favour of a more stable climate, and live in Victoria, New South Wales or South Australia, it's easy to switch to either one of these energy companies.

Both providers not only source their power from renewable energy, but are also invested in building new infrastructure for renewable energy generation.

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Alternatively you can opt for a 100% accredited GreenPower account with one of the big guys (Origin, ActewAGL, Energy Australia, etc). You pay extra, but your money actually goes towards financing new renewable energy-generating infrastructure.

Personally, I struggle with the idea of opting for a 100% GreenPower account with an energy provider that continues to invest heavily in fossil fuels such as coal and gas.

Tellingly, Origin Energy has called on theFederal Governments Climate Change Authority for a 'recalibration' of the current renewable energy target (RET) of 20% by 2020 in order to prevent a significant overshoot of the target.

So why would I go to the trouble of paying extra for a GreenPower account with Origin when they are actively lobbying the Federal Government to get the renewable energy target reduced?

Similar could be said about Energy Australia. In their submission to the Climate Change Authority, Energy Australia argue that leaving the scheme unchanged would [...] force increasing volumes of new renewable energy into an already oversupplied market placing greater risk on the stability of the underlying energy market.

So let me get this straight. Energy Australia and Origin are complaining because they have too many paying GreenPower customers who are forcing them to build new renewable energy infrastructure which is resulting in increasing volumes of new renewable energy?

Why are these companies happy to offer a GreenPower account, and happy to take their customers money for it, when they ultimately don't want that new renewable power to replace their existing fossil fuel fired power, even though their own customers are paying for it?

Paying GreenPower customers seem to be causing a problem for Energy Australia, Origin and their fossil fuel stakeholders.

Origin Energy and Energy Australia's position illustrates how popular the government's GreenPower initiative is. It demonstrates how much Australian households and businesses are keen to drive the change to renewable energy, with their own money. But I criticise these energy companies for their deep reluctance to change despite their own customers handing everything to them on a plate.

Having moved house recently, I jumped at the opportunity to switch energy providers and chose Momentum Energy. Whilst it means I have no control on whether the electricity that reaches my house comes from coal, hydro, wind or solar, at least my households cash is going towards an energy company that truly is a renewable energy generator and who doesn't have investments in coal and gas.

The great news is Momentum Energy is carbon tax exempt, which translates into a comparable rate to my old energy provider.

Easy.

Proving much more difficult is choosing a gas provider.

Eastern Australias natural gas supply is made up of a mix of conventional gas extracted from porous rock reservoirs, and coal seam gas (or unconventional gas) extracted from coal seams.

Coal seam gas extraction is more difficult and comes at a much higher environmental cost than conventional gas.

Proponents of the coal seam gas industry (usually the big energy giants and anyone with financial ties to the industry) like to argue that CSG will help transition Australias energy industry to a lower carbon footprint and that electricity generated from CSG produces around 50% less greenhouse emissions than conventional coal-fired electricity generation.

This argument conveniently ignores the high environmental cost and risks of sourcing coal seam gas. No one can deny that the CSG industry is quite literally driving farmers across eastern Australia off their own land (property owners in Australia don't have the legal right to refuse a mining company from conducting exploration and operations on their land).

As far as the bitter argument over damage to aquifers is concerned, even the gas industry body, the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association admitted in 2011 that damage to surrounding water from fracking is inevitable.

So with coal seam gas now making up a large portion of the gas supply in eastern Australia, what's an end consumer to do?

Homeowners can opt for a solar hot water system, but I rent!

I don't want to be a consumer who is contributing to the demand for coal seam gas, but as a renter, I have a gas hot water system and I'm not able to change that.

As a resident of NSW my options for gas retailers are:

  • Energy Australia (big CSG lovers, so no thanks)
  • Origin Energy (even bigger CSG lovers and Darren Lockyer bribers, so definitely not)
  • AGL (would sent a big, soppy love letter to Australia's coal seams if they could)
  • ActewAGL (still trying to figure out if there is any meaningful difference between these guys and AGL)
  • Lumo (owned by Infratil, I can't work out if these guys are involved in CSG or not)

I'm a big fan of Red Energy because, like Momentum they are not involved in coal seam gas exploration or mining. Their website says they retail gas to Victorians, so perhaps naively I've written to them asking if they would be interested in retailing gas to an environmentally conscious New South Wales resident.

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Posted in Other Home Post Date 01/04/2017


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