Green power

I got a letter yesterday from AGL asking me to join their “green power” programme for electricity and gas. That is, whatever amount you use they’ll guaranteed to generate the same amount from renewable sources. (Which makes sense for electricity, though I don’t know how they reckon they could do that for gas).

Now, call me an idiot, but… it claims it costs no more… there’s no locked-in contract… there’s no termination fee… there’s nothing I can see in the small print which indicates it’ll cost me extra, and the only thing I can see that’s at all restrictive is I have to give 28 days notice of disconnection.

Am I missing something? Some unmentionable government/taxpayer subsidy or something? If they can do this for no extra cost (which I don’t really believe), why not switch everyone to “green power”?

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

19 replies on “Green power”

Have to agree with you there Daniel. Queensland doesn’t have such a scheme, that I am aware of anyway. Just another political game?

Saw an ad for this on the telly and checked their website, as I too was enthused at joining up. I’m sure it listed that depending on how much green power you joined up for, there was an additional charge on your bill. Recheck that small print Daniel! Just in case.
It’s a great scheme and in my opinion, one that ought to be offered as a cheaper option, in order to get more people using it.

It used to be an extra dollar a month I think. Or a dollar a day. A dollar per something, anyway. I’d say they had few takers at that rate, so now it could be free.

I agree it would be impossible to do with gas because all gas use involves burning gas. You can make electricity without burning anything and using up any resources, but when you burn gas it’s gone.

From AGL’s Green Energy page:

Please note: if your electricity retailer is AGL Victoria Pty Limited, the AGL Green Energy premium will only be applied to your peak electricity consumption.

So, I think they only charge you extra at certain parts of the day. Perhaps as an effect of this, an electric hot water system won’t cost you extra.
Myself, I can’t understand why you wouldn’t put your hand up for the higher bills anyway; you’ve got to do everything you can to compensate for the impact you have on the environment, right? And there’s the added bonus that power saving devices save lots of extra money. There’s something unsettling about our power bills ‘tho: always with zero tonnes of greenhouse gases.

So what would happen if EVERYONE signed up for this scheme? would the outback be covered in windmills?

I can’t believe they guarentee the scheme, unless they are counting on general apathy to stop take up being to high for their green generating capacity.

Once they reach their capacity limit, they can just stop registering any more users on their Green Power list. That’s easy. And that would promote the construction of more renewable power capacity.

South Australia has had green electricity options for a while now. I know a lot of people that made the change. It used to be a smidged more expensive, I’m not sure that’s the case now though…?!

I looked at this a few years ago and came to a couple of conclusions:

1) conceptually the idea is you exhaust the pool of renewable energy and they then have to invest in more of it

2) the higher cost was more than I could justify on my income as it then was

3) I came to the conclusion that a few aspects of it were a bit of a rort – there were a few cases of what I considered amounted to double dipping. There are also a few companies flogging as ‘green electricity’, what I would consider nothing of the sort (eg. burning woodchips, labelling it ‘biomass’ and flogging it as green power).

I think it’s improved a bit since then and some providers have different kinds of it (you can pay a bit more if you accept hydro as green, or a lot more if you insist on solar/wind).

Daniel, go for it, it’s a no-brainer. There are heaps of such programmes in the States (primarily in the “blue” versus “red” states. Sadly, I live in a “red” state and it’s unavailable to me.

W.A. certainly has this scheme. I think it’s about 5% extra cost over regular power for a full green power option (which is practically nothing), but all of that money is reinvested back into green power. There are some ways of creating green power which seem dubious such as burning trees which seem wrong, but technically they are carbon neutral, (as you just plant another tree, which then locks up more carbon). lots of other ways too such as wind farms, solar etc.

my 2cents

I just called AGL Victoria and under their “Green Living” promotion there is *no* Green premium for customers transferring to AGL from other suppliers.

That means as $39.60 quarterly service charge,
14.465c per kW for the first 1,020 kW, then
15.268c per kW for the excess.
there’s also 7.810c per Off-Peak kW if you have this.
It’s a no minimum-term, no exit fee deal.

Hey daniel,
I work for AGL uin victoria, The government have set up this scheme with us and one other retailer, there is no charge to the customer whatsoever. the reason the gov does not change everyone over is that at the moment in Aust the infastructure for the green energy is not large enough to support all of the electricity using customers. So sign up, it is a great scheme

Daniel, onya for posting very pertinent questions!

Anyone else wondering what the “95% renewables” means? They state 5% wind power, but nothing else is itemised. Are they smoking up our native forests – does anyone know? I’ve just emailed them , so will post what I find out.

ePig ~:0)

AGL’s Green Living plan

Faithful readers would know that I’ve been stressing about energy supplies lately. I thought I might actually do something about it, so I had a look into renewable power options available to me as a humble denizen of Sydney. I…

The green-power schemes sound like a great idea – especially the ‘costs no more’ one. Whatever the cost, I think if you can afford electricity then you can afford to pay for non-environmentally irresponsible electricity.

The only problem is the cynic in me suspects that the green schemes are a way of consumers subsidising the renewable energy targets that the government has mandated the electricity produces to achieve. Does anyone know for sure about that?

The AGL Green Living product is very misleading as you suspect. It states that 100% of energy is from renewable sources, which is technically true. However, only 5% of power under this product will result in additional renewable energy, which is why the product is offered at no cost. The other 95% is sourced under law through the Mandatory Renewable Energy Traget. All electricty retailers have to source 2% of energy through the MRET, yet AGL are the only company that use it to advertise – or in this case, mislead. Other green energy products that come at a cost give a much higher percentage of additional renewable energy, such as 10, 25, 50 or 100%. AGL Green Living is a product leading the race to generate the least amount of additional renewable energy possible whilst still marketing it as renewable. It has virtually halted the take up of customers at higher percentage rates.

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