It’s Not Easy Being Green: The Energy Companies to Use and the Ones to Avoid

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If you’re looking to lessen your impact on the planet, changing energy providers is one of the most high-impact choices you can make. Doing so helps tackle the climate crisis by forcing coal out, and bringing more renewable energy in.

To help you make that switch, the latest Green Electricity Guide from the environmental not-for-profit Greenpeace Australia Pacific has revealed the greenest electricity providers in Australia.

Enova Energy and Diamond Energy have both come out on top this year while AGL, Australia’s biggest electricity provider, has its terrible climate record exposed at the bottom of the rankings.

The Greenpeace guide judges electricity providers on their capacity to provide clean, renewable energy, their commitment to ending coal use by 2030 and their halting of fossil fuel expansion. In addition, it also looks at their support for new renewable energy, their transparency in marketing, and the pollution and environmental harms that they cause.

The Greenest Energy Providers in Australia

The latest edition of the guide found Enova Energy and Diamond Energy tied for first place, both with a perfect 5-star score.

Diamond, an independent energy company from Victoria, offers 100% renewable electricity while investing heavily in the sector as well as active support for household solar.

Enova Energy, a community-owned renewable energy company from Byron Bay, gives half of its profits back to the community and sources electricity via customer distributed solar panels.

If you’re looking for a green energy provider, these two are likely to be your go-to.

Others at the top of the list include Momentum Energy, Aurora Energy, Indigo Power, Energy Locals, Nectr Energy, CoPower, Amber Electric, and Powershop, which all received a four-star rating or higher.

Worst Energy Providers for Sustainability

At the bottom of the pack though, you’ve also got the ones to avoid. These are generally the largest energy providers in Australia and plan to burn coal to create energy for many years to come.

AGL, Australia’s biggest energy provider, placed dead last with a score of just one star. The energy giant’s plan to burn coal until 2048, frequent local environmental harm, and continued coal mining has its rankings drop, alongside coal-burning power companies Origin and Energy Australia.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific senior campaigner Glenn Walker said that AGL’s fall to the lowest rank provider in the guide was further demonstration of its “awful climate credentials”.

“AGL is Australia’s biggest climate polluter, accounting for about 8% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. 83%of AGL’s generation comes from burning coal, and the company continues to hide behind greenwashing efforts and a dodgy planned demerger instead of taking meaningful action to reverse its destructive climate impact,” he said.

“This ranking is yet another damning indictment of AGL’s disregard for the environment and their customers. Rather than take any meaningful action, the company continues to hide behind marketing slogans, even going as far to propose a split in the organisation to hide its destructive climate impact.”

Powershop, which ranked first in the last Green Electricity Guide in 2018, fell to 10th place due to its new ownership.

Last year, Powershop’s anticipated acquisition by fossil fuel giant Shell saw a mass exodus of customers, with over 6,000 switching to other providers. It demonstrated the strong consumer concern around where their money ends up and any connection a provider has in furthering the climate crisis.

Others at the bottom include Origin Energy, who are currently involved in fracking efforts in the Northern Territory, Energy Australia, Powerdirect, and actweAGL.

Why Switch Energy Providers?

While switching energy providers is usually a pretty simple change to make, it can be hard to know exactly who to switch to. Not all energy providers cover all areas of the country and you may find yourself stuck with just a handful of choices.

Couple this with the fact that green energy providers are often more expensive, although increasingly less so, and it’s not always a straightforward decision.

Fossil fuels however are not the only option and many providers offer hybrid models using both renewable and non-renewable sources. While you might not be able to afford the most expensive greener options, you should check your budget and see how far up that ranking list you can afford. If our government isn’t going to take action to save the planet and our homes, someone has to.

Currently, around 76% of Australia’s electricity still comes from the burning of fossil fuels and Australia has the highest greenhouse gas emissions from coal power in the world on a per capita basis.

With 28 of the 48 providers scoring 3 stars or below on Greenpeace’s guide, it is clear there is much more to be done for electricity providers to take action to combat the climate crisis.

Walker said that the guide not only highlights the climate shortcomings of many electricity providers, but gives consumers the tools they need to take action and switch.

“Australians can play a crucial role in transforming the country’s electricity system by switching to a greener electricity provider, forcing dirty polluting coal out, and bringing more renewable energy in,” he said.

“By moving away from a provider that invests your money in fossil fuels to one that generates their own renewable electricity or buys energy from renewable generators you can vote with your wallet and send a signal to Australian energy companies that you want them to get serious about tackling climate change.

“The guide also helps cut through the increasingly common practice of greenwashing. Many companies continue using dirty coal, while spruiking the use of carbon offsets which often do more harm than good by delaying meaningful action on climate change.”

You can read the full list of rankings here.

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