The power that ends up in our homes is this ‘mix’ of sources from the centralised grid. That means that no one can guarantee where the electricity at your powerpoint has come from.
Recognising they can’t control the power that is delivered to their customers, some retailers are taking the proactive step of carbon offsetting their customer’s energy usage. “Essentially, we purchase ‘carbon credits’ from local and international projects to offset or counteract the carbon created by our customers’ energy usage,” Grigg says. “When enough offsets are purchased to cover all emissions, this is called carbon neutrality.”
GreenPower is another way to reduce the impact of non-renewables. This voluntary government-accredited program allows Australians to displace their standard electricity usage with certified renewable energy, which is added to the grid on their behalf. It has a tangible benefit – last year, its customers directed $80 million to investments in Australia’s renewable energy industry.
As a consumer, you can opt for a retailer that’s making greener choices on your behalf.
It’s reliable and accessible
So, you’re on board. You understand the way greener power works. You want to live in a future with breathable air, clean water and liveable summers. And you’re excited by the idea of a cost-effective alternative to coal.
But when you flick the switch in your living room, you also want the TV to turn on, right?
Grigg says Australians have misconceptions about the reliability of renewables – believing that unless conditions are perfect for generating electricity, it just won’t be available.
It’s not true. The way the grid is structured means power is distributed from multiple sources, so there’s always electricity available. “It goes right down from southeast Queensland, to New South Wales to Victoria and South Australia as well,” Grigg explains. “As more renewables become incorporated, it draws from different energy sources across the country.”
That means that even when it’s grey skies in Melbourne, energy derived from solar in South Australia could be keeping the lights on.
Finding the right provider is easy
Australian consumers have already shown passion for embracing renewables – we want corporations to be greener and have flocked to support programs like rooftop solar. Now we have the tools to make better informed choices about where our energy comes from.
“Most consumers tend to stick to what they know, and don’t look into their bills or costs as often as they should,” Grigg says. Now is the right time to see what else is out there.
When looking for a greener power provider, take note of their environmental credentials. Make sure there are government or other reputable sources vouching for their green claims.
Look at what their associated brands are doing, too. Some power providers are owned by larger organisations that may not align with your ideas. For example, Powershop’s parent company, Meridian Energy Australia, only generates energy from renewable sources, so it’s contributing renewable energy to the grid.
Although studies show many of us would pay a premium for greener power, the good news is we don’t have to. Greener power offers are already widely available to Australian homes, and making the switch is probably easier – and cheaper – than you think.
“So not only is it good for the environment,” Grigg says, “but could be good for the pocket as well.”