Ditching Powershop? These green electricity providers want your business

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Powershop Australia has been haemorrhaging customers after multinational oil giant Shell announced it was buying the company.

The news made many customers feel betrayed, given that Powershop had built a reputation based on its carbon-neutral credentials, while Shell has been described as a “planetary death machine”.

“The good news is there are other electricity providers in Australia that aren’t affiliated with fossil fuel giants,” Finder energy expert Mariam Gabaji told The New Daily.

The Sydney-based Total Environment Centre and Greenpeace Australia previously teamed up to compile the Green Electricity Guide, which ranked Powershop in equal first place.

That ranking is now being adjusted, however, to reflect Powershop’s impending ownership by a fossil fuel titan, but there are many other companies that score well as good, green alternatives.

But not all green electricity retailers are the same.

“There are two kinds of green energy options,” Ms Gabaji said.

“Adding GreenPower to your energy plan will ensure your provider sends renewable energy back to the grid on your behalf – it typically costs 4-9c extra per kWh for 100 per cent green energy.

“Then there are carbon-neutral plans, which are retailer-led programs that reduce carbon emissions at no extra cost.

“The only catch with carbon neutral programs is you can’t always be sure they’re specifically reducing Australian carbon emissions.”

Several smaller Australian retailers are vying to offer both kinds of plans, with the aim of reducing customers’ carbon footprints by as much as possible.

Others go a step beyond to help communities invest in sustainable energy solutions.

Diamond Energy

Diamond Energy was the only retailer other than Powershop to score five stars from the Green Electricity Guide.

The Melbourne-based company counts customers across Victoria, NSW, the ACT, South East Queensland and South Australia.

It claims to feed more electricity sourced from renewables into the grid than its customers consume thanks to its portfolio of solar, wind and biogas power stations.

This underpins Diamond Energy’s key principle of being “beyond carbon neutral”.

In 2018, consumer group CHOICE also ranked Diamond Energy as the second-greenest provider, after Powershop.

EnergyLocals

EnergyLocals is a relatively new entrant in the market, with operations across NSW and South East Queensland and plans to expand to Victoria and South Australia in the near future.

Finder awarded the company Green Retailer of the Year (retail only) in 2021, in part due to offering carbon neutral plans to all customers as standard.

To achieve this, the company purchases international carbon credits.

Unlike other companies, EnergyLocals has a fixed monthly membership fee, with wholesale electricity rates charged on top of that.

EnergyLocals also backs other providers, including Amber Electric and Cooperative Power.

Powershop alternatives
Green electricity companies can support renewable energy in different ways. Photo: Getty

Cooperative Power

Cooperative Power is a small upstart looking to make a social impact by offering GreenPower plans.

It’s made up of member-customers, as well as several unions and environmental groups.

Because it’s a cooperative, it is bound by its own rules not to make a profit and therefore invests any surplus funds towards community-based renewable power projects and social justice causes, such as pandemic aid in the Asia-Pacific region.

The idea is that worker and customer-owned providers are best placed to address the climate crisis.

Amber Electric

Amber Electric has a partnership with EnergyLocals that mean it also offers wholesale prices on top of a $15 monthly membership fee.

It provides electricity across NSW, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia.

The company offers 100 per cent GreenPower plans as well as carbon-neutral packages, which offset any emissions created by the grid.

Amber Electric has also pledged to donate $100 to an environmental NGO of the customer’s choice for any former Powershop clients who switch before December 7.

Enova Community Energy

Enova is a community-owned provider based in Byron Bay, with customers across NSW as well as in South East Queensland.

Around half of the renewable energy Enova puts into the grid is sourced from its customers’ own rooftop solar panels.

The company has pledged to never invest in oil, coal or gas, and was rated by CHOICE as the best electricity provider in the regions that it serves in 2020.

As a social enterprise, Enova also donates 50 per cent of profits to community-based energy and education projects.

The company has also pledged to donate an extra $50 to these projects for every Powershop customer who makes the switch.



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