Good to Worst
Best to Worst

 

 

 

HOW TO USE THIS GUIDE

  • Select your state (above) and a ranking of power companies (green, orange and red) appears down the left hand side.
  • Click on each company for more information.
  • For a national ranking select ‘All’.

WHY THIS GUIDE?

This guide has been developed to help inform Australians about which electricity retailers really are as ‘green’ as they say they are. The electricity sector is the largest source of greenhouse emissions in Australia. 85 per cent of our electricity still comes from coal and gas fired power stations. The rest comes from renewables: mostly hydro and wind but also from an increasing amount of rooftop solar.

By choosing a retailer that invests its money in renewables rather than coal and gas you can help clean up our energy sector by reducing carbon pollution.

WHICH POWER COMPANIES DOMINATE THE ENERGY MARKET?

Origin Energy, EnergyAustralia and AGL currently provide electricity to over three quarters of Australian households. ‘The Dirty Three’ sometimes market themselves as environmentally conscious, but their ‘green’ initiatives are small compared to their investments in coal and gas generation.

Recently these companies have been undermining Australia’s Renewable Energy Target – a policy which aims to ensure 20 per cent of Australia’s electricity comes from renewable sources by 2020.

YOU HAVE THE POWER TO CHOOSE

The energy market is changing and increasingly many of us have the choice to purchase from retailers that invest primarily in renewable energy. Some smaller, newer companies are also helping customers to reduce their consumption and increase their energy efficiency with innovative products and apps.

THE SEVEN CRITERIA THIS GUIDE USES TO RANK POWER COMPANIES

  • Investments in fossil fuels or renewables
  • The carbon emissions intensity of assets
  • Support for - or hostility to - Australia’s Renewable Energy Target
  • Solar offers
  • GreenPower products
  • Whether or not they invest in coal seam gas other unconventional gas
  • Commitment to not buying electricity generated by burning native forest products

AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY

The ACT market is heavily dominated by ActewAGL. There are currently no companies that are ranked ‘green’ by this guide retailing electricity in the ACT.

The current ACT government has the most progressive climate change and renewable energy policies in Australia, including an ambition for the government to generate 90 per cent of the electricity it consumes from renewable sources by 2020. This target will apply to all retailers operating in the ACT.

NEW SOUTH WALES

NSW is the largest electricity market in Australia. Although it is officially deregulated, it has poor retail competition, with the Dirty Three (Origin, AGL and EnergyAustralia) controlling over 90 per cent of the market. These three giants are all actively undermining Australia’s Renewable Energy Target and have low to very poor levels of investment in renewables.

The highest ranked retailer currently operating in NSW is Diamond Energy, a relatively small company that relies primarily on solar. The second best is Momentum Energy, owner of Australia's largest hydro-electic generation.

There are particular issues for NSW customers in relation to coal seam gas (AGL has controversial CSG operations in Western Sydney and plans for a larger project at Gloucester). The NSW Government also now allows the burning of native forest byproducts for electricity generation, although we are not aware that this is currently being done.

THE NORTHERN TERRITORY

The NT is not connected to the ‘national’ grid, but has numerous small grids servicing Darwin and larger towns, as well as stand alone power stations servicing isolated communities. Most electricity generation in the NT is owned by the government, and very little of it is from renewable energy sources.

There is only one retailer in the NT, Jacana Energy. It is owned by the NT government and was split from the NT Power and Water Corporation in May 2014. Jacana scores poorly in this ranking because it has almost no investment in renewable energy and does not offer a GreenPower product.

QUEENSLAND

Queensland’s electricity is generated mostly from coal and gas, with increasing amounts of coal seam gas in the south-east.

The retail market is dominated by three companies: Origin and AGL in high density areas, with the government owned Ergon Energy servicing other areas of the state.

Diamond Energy is the only ‘green’ ranked company retailing in QLD. However, Click Energy offers a very attractive feed in tariff for solar PV owners. With abundant sunshine and decreasing costs of installation, south-east Queensland households have the highest uptake of solar PV systems in Australia.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

South Australia has two coal-fired power stations, several gas-fired plants, and at least 15 wind farms. One coal-fired power station has been mothballed and the other is only partly operating. SA has been the standout state for renewable energy generation in recent years, with wind power now accounting for well over half of the power output on some days.

The state’s retail market is dominated by AGL. For residents of Adelaide and some regional towns, South Australia has relatively good competition for green energy with the highly ranked Diamond Energy and Momentum available. Competition in rural areas is more limited. Due to a public campaign, Alinta is actively considering replacing its two coal plants at Port Augusta, nearing the end of their useful lives, with a solar thermal generator.

TASMANIA

Except during some peak periods, Tasmania generates almost all of its energy from hydro power stations, and exports some surplus hydropower to Victoria.

There is only one retailer, the government owned Aurora Energy. The retail market was officially deregulated from July 2014, but no other companies have so far applied to retail in Tasmania.

Since most of the energy Aurora buys comes from hydro, it rates relatively highly.

VICTORIA

Most energy generated in Victoria is from highly polluting brown coal, so the choice of electricity retailers is especially important for Victorians.

The Dirty Three (Origin, AGL and EnergyAustralia) currently control over 80 per cent of the market. But as the first state to have its electricity market deregulated, Victoria has more competition than any other state and increasingly, Victorians have greater options to shift away from the Dirty Three.

Victoria also has the greatest choice of green energy retailers. The highest ranked retailer in this Guide, Powershop, is currently only available in Victoria, although Powershop has plans to expand to other states. Other green options include Diamond Energy, which specialises in small scale solar and biogas, and the hydro companies Momentum Energy and Red Energy.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Western Australia is not connected to the ‘national’ grid. There is one grid for the south-west of WA, and numerous other smaller ones in the rest of the state, as well as stand alone power stations servicing isolated communities and mining towns. Electricity generation in WA is dominated by large coal and gas fired power stations and smaller gas and hybrid power stations in isolated towns.

There is no retail competition, with Synergy covering the south-west and Horizon Energy (both owned by the government) covering the rest of the state.

There are no opportunities for WA consumers to choose a green retailer. Instead you can buy GreenPower products along with your normal power contract, and consider other measures to reduce the emissions from your electricity consumption.

Depending on location, some Horizon Power customers also are lucky enough to benefit from the highest feed-in tariffs for solar PV owners in Australia. This reflects the high cost of providing power in these locations.

ActewAGL is owned equally by the ACT Government and AGL Energy. It operates only in the ACT, where it is the overwhelmingly dominant retailer. On many criteria its scores have been influenced by AGL’s position. This means it has been scored down for AGL's recent undermining of Australia's current Renewable Energy Target, its ownership of coal and gas generators and for AGL's investments in coal seam gas. The ACT Government’s 90 per cent Renewable Energy Target by 2020 will significantly improve the emissions intensity of this retailer.

  • Offers 100% GreenPower
  • Has committed not to burn native forests to generate electricity
  • 15% of the capacity of power generation of parent company AGL is in renewable sources
  • Provides solar export prices
  • Co-owner AGL and the ACT Govt are split on support for Australia’s Renewable Energy Target
  • Parent company AGL is aggressively investing in Coal Seam Gas mining

AGL is Australia's second largest electricity retailer and is a publicly listed company. Its approach to renewable energy has been inconsistent. It has invested extensively in wind farms and large solar plants but in recent years has also invested heavily in gas, is expanding its CSG investments, and has bought up large coal power stations. In 2012 it purchased Loy Yang B, one of the largest and dirtiest power stations in Australia. With the recent purchase of the coal burning power stations of Macquarie Generation, AGL has become the single largest emitter of carbon pollution in the country. For these reasons, AGL is one of Australia’s ‘Dirty Three’. Read more here.

  • Offers 100% GreenPower
  • Committed not to burn native forests to generate electricity
  • 15% of the capacity of power generation is in renewable sources
  • Offers relatively good solar export prices in NSW and SA
  • Has recently invested heavily in coal and gas fired power stations
  • Undermining the current Australian Renewable Energy Target
  • Actively undertaking Coal Seam Gas mining

Alinta Energy is a private company owned by US-based company TPG Capital that supplies electricity and gas to over 700,000 customers in South Australia and Victoria. It operates 9 gas fired power stations across Australia and New Zealand and has extensive interests in coal and gas mining. Under community pressure Alinta is considering replacing its ageing Port Augusta coal power plant with a large solar thermal power plant. Alinta loudly opposes the RET and has been critical of more wind power in South Australia that has undermined the profitability of its fossil fuelled power stations.

  • No Coal Seam Gas investments and no plans to develop any
  • Committed not to burn native forests to generate electricity
  • Owns only coal and gas generators although considering solar thermal for Port Augusta as a result of pressure from a public campaign
  • Does not offer GreenPower to households (commercial only)
  • Does not offer solar export prices above the government mandated minimum
  • Called for Australia’s Renewable Energy Target to be scrapped

Aurora Energy is wholly owned by the Tasmanian Government and is the sole retailer in that state. While it does not own any power stations directly, the Tasmanian Government owns a suite of hydro power stations plus one gas-fired power station. The Tasmanian Government has publicly supported the Renewable Energy Target but it argues that Tasmania’s industrial users -- 65 per cent of electricity demand -- should be exempt from the RET.

  • Owns significant hydro renewable energy investments
  • Offers 100% GreenPower
  • No Coal Seam Gas investments and no plans to develop any
  • Committed not to burn native forests to generate electricity
  • Qualified support for Australia’s Renewable Energy Target
  • Does not offer solar export prices above the government mandated minimum

Click Energy is privately owned and operates in the three most populous states. It was established by a company called Cleantech Ventures, a Melbourne-based specialist venture capital fund manager focused on investments in companies developing and facilitating clean technologies. Click Energy and its owners do not own or operate any electricity generation. It is the highest ranked company without generating assets and with generous additional feed in tariffs for solar owners is the outstanding option for those with solar panels on their roof.

  • Offers relatively generous solar export prices above any government mandated minimum in NSW, QLD and VIC
  • Supports an expansion of Australia’s Renewable Energy Target
  • No Coal Seam Gas investments and no plans to develop any
  • Committed not to burn native forests to generate electricity
  • A 'pure' retailer with no investments in fossil fuel or renewable energy power stations
  • Offers up to 25% GreenPower

Diamond Energy is a privately owned company partly owned by US-based solar-panel manufacturer SunPower. The company retails electricity in Southeast Queensland, NSW, Victoria and South Australia. A relatively unknown electricity retailer, Diamond Energy scores highly across nearly all the Green Electricity Guide criteria although does not offer GreenPower.

  • Sources most of its electricity from small scale solar. Has some biogas generating capacity
  • Offers solar export prices in South Australia above the government mandated minimum
  • Supports an expansion of Australia’s Renewable Energy Target
  • No Coal Seam Gas investments and no plans to develop any
  • Committed not to burn native forests to generate electricity
  • Does not offer GreenPower

Dodo Power & Gas is a private company born out of a parent company best known for telecommunications services. It does not own any power stations and has not engaged in political lobbying around the RET or carbon price so most of its scores are for the grid average.

  • No coal seam gas investments and no plans to develop any
  • Committed not to burn native forests to generate electricity
  • Offers up to 100% GreenPower
  • A 'pure' retailer of electricity with no investments in fossil fuel or renewable electricity assets
  • Has no position on Australia’s Renewable Energy Target
  • No solar export prices above any government mandated minimums

EnergyAustralia (formerly TRUenergy) is a foreign-owned private company and is the third largest retailer in Australia. The company's renewable energy assets are the smallest of the dominant 'Dirty Three' (Origin, AGL, EnergyAustralia). EnergyAustralia has been one of the fiercest and loudest opponents of Australia's Renewable Energy Target, falsely claiming that renewable energy is not viable and expensive. Read more about Energy Australia and the Dirty Three here.

  • Offers 100% GreenPower
  • Has major investments in power stations but less than 4% of its generating capacity comes from renewable sources
  • Has solar export prices in NSW & SE Qld but not clearly publicised
  • Not known to be invested in coal seam gas mining (but no commitment not to)
  • No commitment to burn native forests to generate electricity (but no commitment not to)
  • Actively undermining Australia’s Renewable Energy Target
  • Has recently invested heavily in coal and gas fired power stations

Owned by the government of Queensland, Ergon Energy is an electricity network as well as a retailer servicing around 700,000 customers outside the south east of the state. For many people living in these areas Ergon is the only electricity retailer option. It owns one medium size gas fired power station and numerous smaller stand-alone power stations in remote areas, most of which are fossil fuelled or hybrid.

  • Offers 100% GreenPower
  • No solar export price offers above that set by the Queensland Government
  • No public position on Australia’s Renewable Energy Target
  • Not known to be invested in coal seam gas mining (but no commitment not to)
  • No commitment to burn native forests to generate electricity (but no commitment not to)
  • No significant investment in renewable energy. Relies heavily on fossil fuel generation.

Horizon Power is owned by the government of Western Australia. It services about 100,000 homes and 10,000 businesses in regional and remote areas of the state. They offer the most generous solar export prices in Australia, but only in selected remote locations.

  • Offers generous solar export prices in selected remote locations
  • No public position on Australia’s Renewable Energy Target
  • Not known to be invested in coal seam gas mining (but no commitment not to)
  • No commitment to burn native forests to generate electricity (but no commitment not to)
  • No significant investment in renewable energy. Relies heavily on fossil fuel generation
  • Does not offer GreenPower

Jacana Energy (formerly part of NT Power and Water) is wholly owned by the Northern Territory Government. It is the sole electricity retailer in the Northern Territory. It owns a number of power stations, almost all of them using fossil fuels. NT Power and Water does not support Australia's current Renewable Energy Target.

  • No solar export prices above the already generous NT Government mandated minimum
  • No public position on Australia’s Renewable Energy Target
  • Not known to be invested in unconventional gas (but no commitment not to)
  • No commitment to burn native forests to generate electricity (but no commitment not to)
  • No significant investment in renewable energy. Relies heavily on fossil fuel generation
  • No GreenPower offers.

Lumo Energy is owned by the large, NZ based public company Infratil. It has around 500,000 customers in four states. Almost half of Lumo's electricity generation comes from wind farms. Lumo’s ranking is dragged down by the significant gas investments held by its parent company Infratil and by declining to reveal its position on the Renewable Energy Target, and policy positions on unconventional gas and burning native forests for electricity.

  • Offers solar export prices above any government mandated minimum in NSW and south east QLD
  • Significant investments in renewable energy but Lumo is owned by a company with significant investments in gas generation
  • Only offers 10% GreenPower "LumoLife"
  • Position on Australia’s Renewable Energy Target unknown
  • Not known to be invested in coal seam gas mining (but no response on future plans)
  • Not currently burning native forests to generate electricity (but no response on any commitment)

Momentum Energy is owned by Hydro Tasmania, which is Australia's largest owner of renewable energy generation. The company offers electricity to households in NSW, South Australia and Victoria. Nearly 90 per cent of electricity Momentum sells comes from renewable resources, mainly from hydroelectricity. Momentum's parent company has indicated it is ready to accept changes to Australia's current Renewable Energy Target but has joined others in publicly calling for certainty for the industry.

  • Significant investments in hydro generators in Tasmania
  • Offers 100% GreenPower but does not support it and instead directs customers to its own unaccredited SmilePower product
  • Qualified support for Australia’s Renewable Energy Target
  • Not known to be invested in coal seam gas mining (but no commitment not to)
  • No commitment to burn native forests to generate electricity (but no commitment not to)
  • Does not offer solar export prices above any government mandated minimum

Neighbourhood Energy is owned by Alinta Energy, which operates 9 gas-fired power stations in both Australia and New Zealand. Alinta Energy does not generate any of its power through renewable energy.

  • Offers 100%GreenPower
  • No coal seam gas investments and no plans to develop any
  • Committed not to burn native forests to generate electricity
  • Parent company Alinta owns only coal and gas generators
  • Does not offer solar export prices above any government mandated minimum
  • Parent company has called for Australia’s Renewable Energy Target to be scrapped

Origin Energy is Australia’s largest energy retailer with 4.3 million customers, and is a publicly listed company. It has a wide range of coal and gas power stations with considerable coal seam gas operations in Queensland. Origin Energy has been the most vocal and aggressive opponent to the renewable energy industry through its attacks on Australia's Renewable Energy Target. The company claims to be Australia's "leading green energy retailer" yet less than 1 per cent of its generation capacity is from renewable sources. Read more about Origin Energy in these reports here. and here

  • Offers 100% GreenPower
  • Offers solar export prices in south east Queensland and NSW
  • No commitment to burn native forests to generate electricity (but no commitment not to)
  • Less than 1% of power station capacity is from renewable sources
  • Has recently invested heavily in coal and gas-fuelled generation capacity
  • Actively undermining Australia’s Renewable Energy Target
  • Actively investing in coal seam gas mining

PowerDirect is a subsidiary of AGL and provides electricity to customers in NSW, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria. Its low ranking is based on AGL's position on issues such as Australia's Renewable Energy target, coal seam gas and renewable energy capacity.

  • Offers 100% GreenPower
  • Offers solar export prices in NSW and SA
  • Committed not to burn native forests to generate electricity
  • Parent company AGL has 15% of the capacity of power generation from renewable sources
  • Parent company AGL has recently invested heavily in coal and gas-fuelled generation capacity
  • Parent company AGL is undermining Australia’s Renewable Energy Target
  • Parent company AGL is actively undertaking coal seam gas mining

Powershop is the Australian retail arm of New Zealand-based public company Meridian Energy. Powershop currently supplies around 20,000 customers in Victoria. Powershop has been one of the most vocal advocates of Australia's Renewable Energy Target and one of the few companies to call for the target to be more ambitious.

Our friends at GetUp! have partnered with Powershop to create the "Better Power" campaign. Check it out here.

  • Parent company Meridian has invested and operates significant renewable energy generators, primarily wind.
  • Offers 100% GreenPower
  • Supports an expansion of Australia’s Renewable Energy Target
  • No coal seam gas investments and no plans to develop any
  • Committed not to burn native forests to generate electricity
  • No solar export prices above government mandated minimums

Red Energy is owned by Snowy Hydro Limited, a corporation which is in turn owned by the New South Wales, Victorian and Commonwealth governments. Snowy Hydro owns the iconic Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme as well as some gas-powered electricity plants. Red Energy has followed the NSW Government in supporting a change to Australia's Renewable Energy Target.

  • Parent company Snowy Hydro Limited operates significant hydroelectric generators
  • Offers 100% GreenPower
  • Offers a solar export price in NSW
  • Not known to be invested in coal seam gas mining (but no commitment not to)
  • No commitment to burn native forests to generate electricity (but no commitment not to)
  • Does not support Australia’s Renewable Energy Target

Simply Energy, servicing about 400,000 customers, is owned by GDF Suez one of the largest energy companies in the world. GDF Suez largely owns dirty power generation in Australia from brown coal including Hazelwood Power Station, the most emission intensive generators in Australia. The company's renewable energy capacity is only 1 per cent of its total generation. Simply Energy refused to answer questions related to this Guide, including its position on Australia's Renewable Energy Target.

  • Offers 100% GreenPower
  • Parent company, GDF Suez, owns large, polluting brown coal power generation and has not invested in any real way in renewable energy
  • No solar export prices above government mandated minimums
  • Positions on Australia's Renewable Energy Target, coal seam gas and native forests unknown
  • Company declined to respond to survey letter

Synergy is owned by the Western Australian Government, and services more than 1 million customers in the south west of the state. Synergy's investment in renewable energy is under 4 per cent of its total power station capacity.

  • Offers 100% GreenPower
  • Offers a reasonable solar export price in WA
  • Not investing in coal seam gas mining. No commitment not to
  • No commitment to burn native forests to generate electricity (but no commitment not to)
  • Does not support Australia’s Renewable Energy Target
  • Low investment (less than 4%) in renewable energy generation

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