Power companies are lying to you: Greenpeace

Greenpeace released its 2022 Green Electricity Guide this week and has accused larger retailers of ‘greenwashing’ their products by marketing images of green products while consistently relying on coal and gas stations for most of their output.

Guide author and Greenpeace senior energy campaigner Glenn Walker told Guardian the big retailers were “not moving fast enough to retire those stations”.

Read: Why Australians should check their latest electricity bill

Greenpeace judged the retailers on six main criteria: providing clean, renewable energy; ending coal use by 2030; halting fossil fuel expansion; supporting new renewable energy; community provider score and transparency of marketing.

It’s this last one where the giants have drawn Greenpeace’s ire and its accusations of ‘greenwashing’.

AGL has stated that it operates the largest portfolio of renewable energy products of any ASX-listed company but Mr Walker says these claims are misleading.

“Most of their ads feature solar and windfarms,” he says.

“They give the impression that they are a leader of clean and green energy. They say they will get to net zero by 2050 as a company. But they want to continue mining and burning coal right up until 2048.

“The science is very clear. We know now that Australia cannot burn coal beyond 2030. Any company planning to burn coal beyond that should be heavily marked down.”

Read: You could save up to $428 on your electricity bill

The top of the green power list are Enova and Diamond Energy while coming out last are Origin Energy, Energy Australia and AGL. The 2018 report leader Powershop has fallen to 10th place after its acquisition by energy giant Shell sparked a consumer backlash. An estimated 6000 customers left the retailer after the acquisition.

In its report For Climate’s Sake: Coal-Free by 2030, global power research and policy analysis group Climate Analytics, stated that Australia’s electricity grid is one of the world’s dirtiest.

Its 19 grid-connected coal power stations supply about 60 per cent of its electricity, which is well above the G20 average of 41 per cent. Australia is the only OECD country in the G20, which relies on coal for more than half of its electricity supply.

“Within a decade, around half of Australia’s coal power stations will be over 40 years old; some units as old as 60 years,” the report states.

“These stations are already technically obsolete and increasingly unreliable. They fail during extreme heat waves, on occasion leading to blackouts. They also have extremely weak air pollution controls and cause substantial adverse health effects.”

Read: Could electricity become ‘too cheap to meter’?

Australian consumers have shown a great appetite for green energy products. According to the federal government website energy.com.au, Australia has the highest uptake of solar globally, with about 30 per cent of homes having rooftop solar units.

Clean energy news website reneweconomy.com.au claims renewable energy supplied five times more electricity to the grid than gas-fired stations in 2021. In the National Electricity Market – Australia’s largest grid – renewables supplied 31.4 per cent of electricity generation in 2021 and the amount of electricity supplied by renewables grew by almost 20 per cent.

Is Australia moving fast enough towards green power? Does a retailer’s ‘green’ rating influence your choice of provider? Why not share your thoughts on how you choose a retailer in the comments section below?

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Written by Jan Fisher

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