Electricity market newcomers, Diamond Energy and Powershop, have again been named as Australia’s most environmentally – and consumer – attuned energy retailers, in the latest edition of the Green Electricity Guide.
The Guide, also known as GreG, is put together by Greenpeace and Total Environment Centre as an independent ranking of electricity retailers’ environmental credentials, including emissions intensity, renewables investments and policies, and corporate transparency.
The latest edition, the third of a series, gives Powershop and Diamond equal top spot with five-star rankings for the third year running, while industry stalwart, AGL Energy, was awarded “Most Improved” player.
According to the report, AGL won this title off the back of its recent investments in wind and solar farms, support for a virtual power plant trials, and public commitments to close all existing conventional coal-fired plants by 2050.
“AGL has also resisted federal government pressure to keep the highly polluting and unreliable Liddell coal power station in NSW open beyond 2022,” the report said.
Greenpeace Australia Pacific Climate and Energy Campaigner Nikola Casule said the emergence of Powershop and Diamond Energy as “guiding lights” in the retail space was driven by their focus on investment in renewables projects.
For Powershop, those renewables investments have resulted in a price cut for Victorian customers, effective from the start of March, of around 5 per cent – or savings of $70 a year for an average customer.
“They show that a rapid decarbonisation of Australia’s energy sector is possible, and can be cheaper for consumers with retailers recently passing on savings to their customers,” Casule said.
But Mark Byrne – Energy Market Advocate at the Total Environment Centre and a regular contributor to RenewEconomy – says support of communities, and community energy programs, was what really stood progressive retailers apart from the incumbents.
This is certainly true of Diamond Energy, which is the preferred retailer for the remarkable community energy outfit, Renewable Newstead.
As we reported here, the regional Victoria based group has achieved a groundbreaking deal on network charges with its electricity distributor, Powercor, that will remove some of the hurdles of building a small solar farm and sharing the output with the community.
“What is most interesting and different about this year’s guide is the emergence of a new breed of small retailers with a strong commitment to supporting local communities as well as renewable energy,” Byrne said.
“Energy Locals and Enova Energy are on four stars. Neither currently has the scale to be able to directly build or own large power stations. But if they continue to grow, invest in more distributed energy resources and get more directly involved in energy efficiency and demand response programs, they could give the top two a run for their money in the next guide.”
Byrne said AGL had also been recognised with this year’s Most Improved Retailer award for a range of initiatives as well as championing a transition to renewables despite criticism from the federal government.
“AGL has been recognised as this year’s Most Improved Retailer for its work around decarbonisation and renewables and we commend the company for standing up to the Federal Government’s bullying to try to keep Liddell power station open past 2022,” Byrne said.
“But despite their improvements AGL remains Australia’s biggest carbon polluter and should be doing more, particularly around closing down their inefficient, unreliable, and high-polluting old coal power stations as early as possible.”