You can support renewable energy through the electricity you choose to buy – even if you can’t get solar on your roof. There are several different ways to choose renewables when you buy electricity.
GreenPower is a federal government scheme that enables households and businesses to support renewable energy generation. When you choose to buy GreenPower, your electricity retailer purchases an equivalent amount of electricity from accredited renewable sources, such as large scale wind and solar.
Most electricity retailers offer GreenPower and it is typically comes at an additional cost. This is because your electricity provider pays the wholesale electricity price for the renewable electricity and a certified GreenPower premium. By purchasing 100% GreenPower, you will be covering all of your household’s emissions from electricity and supporting the Australian renewable energy industry.
Tools to help you buy GreenPower
To switch to renewable electricity, you can start by simply asking your current electricity retailer whether they offer 100% GreenPower and how much it costs (cents per kilowatt hour). As there are so many energy retailers and different energy plans available, it is a good idea to compare your current retailer's offer with others in the market.
There are several websites that can help you compare electricity and gas offers. To help you switch to renewable electricity, use a comparison site that includes information on GreenPower offers and check whether it shows all energy offers available in the market. Some websites have commercial arrangements with certain energy providers, so they only show some of the energy offers available.
Below are three comparison sites that state that they compare all publicly available offers on the market. Along with using these tools, you may like to contact energy providers directly to help you find an offer that best suits your circumstances.
- The Australian Government’s GreenPower site enables you to find a provider that supplies 100% accredited GreenPower. You will then need to contact them to ask for their best GreenPower rate.
- The Victorian Government’s Victorian Energy Compare is an online tool to help you compare electricity and gas offers from all energy retailers, based on information you provide about your household or business. You will need to select the option to show GreenPower offers and then focus on those that are 100% GreenPower
- The WATTever comparison site states that it lists all publicly available energy plans from all retailers. You can filter to focus on those that offer 100% GreenPower and retailers with a high Green Rating. Plans are then ranked in price order. Some retailers provide WATTever with a referral fee, however this doesn’t change the price that you pay. Any relationships with energy retailers are disclosed on their website.
Some electricity retailers offer ‘carbon neutral’ or ‘carbon offset’ electricity. This means your power company buys carbon offsets to offset the emissions from your grid-supplied electricity, which typically comes from coal and gas. Carbon offsets are purchased from certified sustainability projects that reduce carbon emissions. These include tree planting, land management, energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Although they are more costly, offsets backed by an independent standard such as the Gold Standard must meet certain criteria to ensure they deliver the intended impact.
Even if your electricity plan is carbon neutral, by also opting to buy GreenPower, you are helping to drive further investment in renewable energy in Australia. This is because your retailer is obliged to purchase an equivalent amount of electricity from accredited renewable sources, such as large-scale wind and solar.
Where does your energy come from?
Your choice of electricity retailer has an impact on the demand for renewable energy. All of our energy comes from the same centralised pool of electricity in the National Electricity Market (NEM). Electricity retailers may own electricity generation assets, or have contracts to buy electricity from generators – and these could be fossil fuel plants or renewable energy. You can choose a power company that’s committed to increasing their renewable energy supply.
The Green Electricity Guide prepared by Greenpeace and the Total Environment Centre provides information to help you compare the environmental performance of electricity retailers. The information in this guide was compiled in 2018, so it may not reflect recent changes or include newer electricity retailers.
Webinar: Buying renewable energy and home energy efficiency
Watch our webinar featuring an expert speaker from Renew explain the ins and out of buying renewable energy, GreenPower, carbon offset energy and household energy efficiency. Download the webinar slide pack (5.02MB, PDF).
Yarra Council is powered by 100% renewable electricity
All Council operations, our buildings, street lights and electric vehicles, are powered by 100% renewable energy. In an Australian first, we joined with other local governments, cultural institutions, universities and corporations to collectively purchase renewable energy from a new windfarm in regional Victoria, through the Melbourne Renewable Energy Project.
Find out more about how Council has switched to 100% renewable energy and reduced its energy usage.