If you purchase GreenPower on top of your regular electricity usage – first of all, good on you – but what does paying this premium actually mean and what is it doing for the environment?
GreenPower is a voluntary government-accredited program that allows consumers to make a financial contribution towards Australia’s renewable energy industry. You do this by instructing your electricity retailer to purchase green energy on your behalf – at your expense.
If that sounds a little vague, read on, because today we’re going to take you through everything you need to know about GreenPower.
What is GreenPower?
To put it bluntly, GreenPower is a premium you pay on top of your electricity bill to offset your carbon emissions. Though, there’s a lot more to it than that.
The premium you pay helps to fund the renewable energy sector, something that is quickly developing in Australia, but still needs a lot of work. Because GreenPower is a government-accredited program, there are strict regulatory requirements for participating generators and retailers, which are independently audited to ensure that the energy you buy (via GreenPower accredited sources), is helping to support the renewable energy industry. So, you don’t have to worry about your provider ripping you off, as the Government has a hand in this scheme.
We admit, this is still sounding a little vague, so read on to discover what GreenPower means for you.
What does GreenPower cost me?
Buying GreenPower means that for every kWh of electricity you use in your home or business, you’re paying a premium that contributes to increasing the amount of renewable energy in the grid.
When you choose to purchase GreenPower through your electricity retailer, your retailer must buy the equivalent amount of renewable energy from government-accredited wind, solar, hydro and other renewable generators. That renewable energy is then added to Australia’s electricity grid on your behalf. Altogether this generates funds and encourages the renewable energy sector to better infrastructure; think of it like an investment for the future.
So what does it cost? The Government estimates that for a 100 per cent purchase of GreenPower, it will cost the average consumer an extra 80c to $1 every week on their power bill. This is up to $52 for a year, or $13 a quarter. When broken down, this is estimated at an extra 5c-8c per kWh of electricity. It’s important to do the maths with your own typical electricity use to determine the cost of GreenPower for your home.
If your power bill is already stretching you thin every quarter – and we know that this is the case for many Australians – here are a few ways to keep your electricity bill under control, and support renewables energy”
- Check with your retailer to see if they have flexible GreenPower options. Some retailers will give you the option to choose as much or as little GreenPower as you like, so you can contribute when it suits your wallet.
- Switch to an electricity retailer which does more for the environment. If you can’t afford GreenPower, you can choose a company like Powershop, which offsets 100 per cent of the carbon emissions associated with its customers’ electricity usage at no extra cost.
- Use less power. This is good for the environment and your pocket. By using less power, you’re decreasing demand on the grid, which means less electricity needs to be produced from fossil fuel generators.
In 2015, customers purchasing GreenPower meant $80 million was invested into renewable energy in Australia. In many ways that extra dollar or so a week is going miles to ensure Australia can have a shot at a green energy future.
Why should you buy GreenPower?
Forget about the cost for a moment. We know spending extra on anything is a bit of a pain, but with GreenPower you are helping to secure Australia’s green energy future. According to the GreenPower site, 90 per cent of Australia’s power is generated by burning fossil fuels. Compare this with our Kiwi cousins New Zealand, whose power comes from 83 per cent renewable sources. There are numerous, complicated differences between Australia and New Zealand’s energy sectors, however. Though, the bottom line is that Australia could do with a higher percentage of power coming from renewable energy.
In 2016, the Coalition Government’s election slogan was ‘Jobs and Growth’. While this slogan no doubt wore a little thin over time, it is undeniable that the renewable energy sector has many opportunities for ‘jobs and growth.’ This burgeoning sector is sure to be an exciting and prosperous one in the future.
While you know that GreenPower funds are undoubtedly contributing to some sort of green initiative, it can be hard to track exactly where your dollars are going. Of course, at the end of the day the money sits in a Government kitty somewhere, so it’s hard to track your money. Though, we would like to see some more transparency about how the money was spent. Similar to your tax statement detailing where your tax went (e.g. welfare, health etc), we’d like to see a similar breakdown and whether your money was spent on hydro, solar, wind, geothermal energy and so on. Doing this could convince many people to spend that extra money on their electricity bill.
The Pros and Cons of GreenPower
|Helps fund Renewable Energy Sector||Adds between 5c-8c per kWh on top of your bill|
|Is Government-regulated, private sector doesn’t set prices||No tax incentives, Government regulation might stifle competition|
|Can be good for the environment||Not much transparency about how exactly your money is being spent|
|Is voluntary and a good alternative to investing in renewable energy yourself||An approximate $1 extra per week can add up for some families ($52 per year)|
Is GreenPower right for you?
GreenPower is a small but important initiative to help offset your emissions and support the green energy infrastructure Australia is investing in. At a relatively little cost, you could join in with the millions of Australians investing in the green energy future. On the other hand, while the Government’s estimated figures of a $1 extra per week seem modest, there is a lot more to it. If you have a large family, GreenPower could easily cost you a couple hundred dollars every year.
Though the GreenPower funds are inevitably going to some sort of green scheme, it’s a bit of a guess as to exactly how it’s being spent. Increased transparency could push many people to opting-in to the scheme. There are many benefits to GreenPower, but you will have to decide if it is the right scheme for you and your household.