New report reveals Origin, EnergyAustralia and AGL's attack on the Renewable Energy Target

Press release - 22 June, 2014
SYDNEY, 23 JUNE 2014. With Australia’s Renewable Energy Target under review by the Federal Government, Greenpeace Australia Pacific has released a new report which analyses why and how Australia’s biggest three energy retailers - Origin, EnergyAustralia and AGL - are working to undermine the target which threatens the profitability of their coal and gas assets.

Greenpeace’s report comes on the day that legislation to repeal carbon pricing laws is reintroduced into Federal Parliament and on the back of new polling showing that fewer than 1 in 10 Australians support moves to wind back the Renewable Energy Target.

Footage and stills of the Greenpeace’s campaign launch outside of Origin Energy Headquarters in Sydney today are available on request (see below).

KEY FINDINGS OF THE REPORT, ‘The Dirty Three – Origin Energy, EnergyAustralia and AGL’s Attack on Australia’s Renewable Energy Target’. At a critical time in the development of clean energy in Australia, the big three energy retailers which account for 77 per cent of small electricity customers, have become ‘The Dirty Three’ – expanding investments in coal and gas, undermining the Renewable Energy Target and threatening the future of renewable energy in Australia.

The Dirty Three have invested relatively little in renewable energy and continue to invest heavily in polluting coal and gas generation:

  • Analysis of company data by Greenpeace’s Investigation Unit shows renewable energy made up only 0.5 per cent of Origin Energy's and 1.9 per cent of EnergyAustralia's electricity generation during 2012-13.
  • AGL does better, with around 15 per cent of electricity generation, but in the past five years has increased its fossil fuel electricity generation capacity by around 50 per cent.
  • Analysis of major investments in generating infrastructure over the last five years shows EnergyAustralia and Origin have dramatically expanded their fossil fuel electricity generation by close to 75 and 87 per cent respectively and AGL has increased its by just over 50 per cent.

The Dirty Three are undermining the Renewable Energy Target to protect their profits:

The Dirty Three have helped to spread misinformation about the Renewable Energy Target and perpetuate mistruths which are distorting the public debate, for example:

  • the Renewable Energy Target is leading to higher electricity prices
  • meeting the 2020 Renewable Energy Target is not possible
  • wind and solar energy is unreliable. The report rebuts these claims.

Wind and solar projects have reportedly been frustrated by Origin and EnergyAustralia refusing to issue the power purchase agreements which renewable energy generators need to ensure they have customers for their power.

GREENPEACE LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN. The report kicks off the launch of a high profile Greenpeace campaign focused on “The Dirty Three.” The campaign invites customers of Origin, EnergyAustralia and AGL to petition their power company to support the Renewable Energy Target.

It includes a TV advertisement and grassroots campaigning in the electorates of Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Treasurer Joe Hockey and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s electorates.

Greenpeace Head of Program Ben Pearson said, “While Australians are hungry for clean solar and wind power, the top three energy retailers are working to hold back the nation’s transition to a renewable energy future by undermining one of our most successful bipartisan policies ever.

“Analysis shows Origin, EnergyAustralia and AGL are expanding investment in coal and gas, exposing themselves to competition from renewable projects. These companies, some of the largest Australian polluters, are publicly attacking the target and actively frustrating wind and solar projects.

“The dramatic growth of renewables threatens the profits of the big energy companies and they’re responding by using their economic and political muscle to weaken the Renewable Energy Target.

“After years spent touting their green credentials, Australians are rightly shocked to find that these big energy companies are working to erode investment in renewable energy which will ultimately increase consumer power bills. Many customers have already contacted Greenpeace for advice on options for switching to alternate energy companies.

“Australia already lags behind other large economies like Germany and China in developing renewables capacity. Scrapping or reducing the Renewable Energy Target would be foolish. It would risk billions in renewable investments, increase power bills, forgo Australian jobs and increase carbon emissions,” Mr Pearson said.

Media Gallery – Footage and Stills of Launch:
user: photos password: green