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Australians ditch GreenPower electricity plans

massive reduction in the amount of renewable electricity purchased by aussie households

After years of continuous growth in the number of Australians choosing GreenPower electricity plans, the green tide has turned as 138,000 households ditched their GreenPower plan over the last 12 months.

The National GreenPower Accreditation Program Status Report issued at the weekend, shows that as at June 30, 802,619 households nationally had subscribed to a GreenPower plan, representing a decrease of 15 per cent over the past 12 months.

According to Shaun Johnson, founder of energy comparison site Switchwise.com.au, this translated into a massive 33 per cent or 122,000 mega watt hour (MWh) reduction in the amount of renewable electricity purchased by Australian households in the June quarter.

switchwise analysis of the report

Jackgreen’s failure and universal price rises hasten decline

The failure in December 2009 of specialist GreenPower retailer Jackgreen, which had approximately 76,000 customers, accounted for half the total drop in GreenPower customers. It appears that the vast majority of Jackgreen customers decided not to take up GreenPower plans with their new electricity suppliers.

Furthermore, consumers appear to be less willing to pay a premium for GreenPower after seeing their power bills rise by over 20 per cent over the last 2 years. Switchwise.com.au data shows that only 3 per cent of its customers choose a GreenPower plan when switching power companies.

Green States, Brown States

New South Wales and Victoria experienced the biggest drops in green households of 24 per cent and 20 per cent respectively whilst the ACT managed to buck the trend by increasing the number of households on GreenPower by 20 per cent.

Queensland is Australia’s greenest electricity state with 13 per cent of households selecting a GreenPower plan. Victoria has the greatest number of GreenPower users with 278,706 households but trails Queensland on a per capita basis. NSW is the worst performer in the country with only 7 per cent of households going green.

Origin owns green market

Australia’s largest energy retailer, Origin Energy, continues its success in growing GreenPower customers with an increase of 7.6 per cent over the year. Origin Energy now represents almost half of the total Australian GreenPower market.

TRUenergy and Simply Energy lost the most - shedding 48,467 and 34,609 GreenPower customers respectively. Country Energy and Energy Australia lost almost 10,000 customers each.

Renewable Energy Target just got harder

With households abandoning GreenPower the Federal Government’s Renewable Energy Target - 20 per cent of our energy generated from renewable sources such as wind and solar by 2020 - becomes an even bigger stretch target. Correction: Thanks to those who have advised that GreenPower has been specifically carved-out of the Renewable Energy Target.

Going green needn’t cost the earth

Mr Johnson said it was worrying to see large numbers of Australians abandoning green electricity despite the across the board price rises and the current economic environment.

"Thanks to competition, there are some great entry-level GreenPower deals available at prices similar to what many consumers currently pay for their coal-powered electricity."

But, he warned consumers needed to be careful when choosing a GreenPower plan as the premiums charged could vary significantly.

"Research conducted by switchwise.com.au indicates an average household could pay up to $245 more each year for a 100 per cent GreenPower plan depending on which supplier they choose. It is imperative consumers compare prices before deciding to switch to green electricity."

Notes to Editors

GreenPower is a joint initiative of the ACT, NSW, SA, QLD, VIC and WA government agencies to guarantee that the renewable electricity consumers and businesses buy from energy suppliers meets stringent environmental standards.

Data sourced from The National GreenPower Accreditation Program Status Report, Quarter 2: 1 April to 30 June 2010 and The National GreenPower Accreditation Program Status Report, Quarter 2: 1 April to 30 June 2009

Released: 18 October, 2010