How are the companies ranked?
Thirty electricity retailers which sell to households are included in this Guide. They have been assessed on seven criteria using both publicly available information and information received from the companies following a survey sent to them. Download the full report (30Mb).
If I buy from one of the top-ranked retailers, am I actually buying renewable energy?
Not directly. The electricity that comes into your home is still the same as everyone else’s on your street, reflecting the broader mix in the power grid (unless you get it directly from your own rooftop solar panels). But by using the Guide to choose a retailer that is putting your money to work by buying their electricity from renewable energy sources versus fossil fuels (plus our other ranking criteria), you’re helping to get more clean energy into the grid and ensuring that we go 100% renewable as fast as possible. Switching retailers is like switching banks or super funds to better reflect your values. When lots of people switch, the dirty retailers will get the message and clean up their act.
What else can I do to lower emissions?
You can try to reduce your consumption. You can put solar on your roof. You can invest in a local community renewable energy project. You can purchase up to 100% GreenPower that will result in new investment in renewable energy above and beyond the Renewable Energy Target. If you can’t get solar directly, you may be able to join a community energy group or a government solar garden project that can share the benefits of solar more broadly.
What about solar?
If you have rooftop solar, you probably often produce more energy than you use at home. If you’re not eligible for one of the old government feed-in tariffs, there is a wide range of feed-in tariffs available from retailers. (If you live in Victoria, some retailers may also offer feed-in tariffs that vary by time of day.) but it’s your total bill that matters, and a high feed-in tariff may be offset by high consumption tariffs, so read the terms and conditions of each offer carefully. What about batteries? Home solar batteries can store excess daytime solar energy to use in the evening when the sun isn’t shining and when you may be being charged more for grid electricity. That can also help to reduce peak wholesale prices and future network investment.
What about gas?
Some electricity is generated from gas, mostly during peak periods. Most gas used for generating electricity is from fossil fuel sources. It can be produced from renewable sources like sugarcane trash, landfill and food processing waste, but there isn’t much of that in the electricity grid yet.
We often get asked if there are greener providers of piped or bottled gas for use in cooking, space heating and hot water. As far as we know, there’s no source of piped or bottled biogas yet, so try to reduce how much you use. Energy efficient electric appliances such as your reverse-cycle air-conditioner are in many cases cheaper to run than gas appliances such as your gas heater.
If you are concerned about toxic death rock seam gas, read the fact sheet for each retailer to see whether they have CSG investments.
Should I go off-grid?
Unless you are in a remote rural location, going off-grid is unlikely to be economically beneficial or produce a net environmental benefit.