Article

Wind power? It was all huff and puff

A pioneering green energy firm misled consumers about the amount of power generated by its wind turbines, a watchdog has ruled.

Ecotricity claimed its twin turbines, which straddle the A47 at Swaffham, produce enough electricity for 3000 homes.

But the Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint about a leaflet circulated by the company, stating it breached clauses in its code of conduct concerning "substantiation" and "truthfulness".

A Norfolk householder complained to the ASA after he received a leaflet inviting him to switch energy suppliers and buy his electricity from Ecotricity.

It said: "We built Swaffham's first turbine in 1999 and a second in 2003 at the request of local people. Together they generate electricity for 3000 homes."

The complainant challenged the claim because the turbines' so-called renewable obligation certificates, which certify how much power has been produced, showed they had not generated this much electricity.

Ecotricity later claimed the figures were not incorrect, but were a 10-year estimate and this was not made clear in its literature.

In its ruling, the ASA said: "We considered that readers were likely to infer from the claim "together they generate electricity... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
Ecotricity claimed its twin turbines, which straddle the A47 at Swaffham, produce enough electricity for 3000 homes.

But the Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint about a leaflet circulated by the company, stating it breached clauses in its code of conduct concerning "substantiation" and "truthfulness".

A Norfolk householder complained to the ASA after he received a leaflet inviting him to switch energy suppliers and buy his electricity from Ecotricity.

It said: "We built Swaffham's first turbine in 1999 and a second in 2003 at the request of local people. Together they generate electricity for 3000 homes."

The complainant challenged the claim because the turbines' so-called renewable obligation certificates, which certify how much power has been produced, showed they had not generated this much electricity.

Ecotricity later claimed the figures were not incorrect, but were a 10-year estimate and this was not made clear in its literature.

In its ruling, the ASA said: "We considered that readers were likely to infer from the claim "together they generate electricity for 3000 homes" that the turbines were currently generating electricity for 3000 homes, not that they were estimated to generate electricity for 3000 homes based on estimates for the turbines over a 10-year period.

"We concluded that the claim was misleading on this point and told Ecotricity to amend it."

Ecotricity responded: "We were disappointed with the outcome of the complaint but accept the decision made by the ASA.

"We have had some interesting discussions on this matter but in the end the complaint was upheld because the 10-year figure stated for the electricity generation of our two Swaffham turbines was based on future projections and not actual, and this was unfortunately not made clear in the brochure in question."

Ecotricity said its projections were made on the basis its turbines generated 10gWh (gigawatt-hours) of electricity a year and an "industry"-recognised average household consumption of 3300kWh (kilowatt hours).

The household consumption figure comes from utilities watchdog Energywatch.

Department of Trade and Industry figures state the average household consumption for Breckland is 5612 kWh, meaning the turbines could be supplying even fewer homes, depending on which figure is closest to actual demand.

"Following the decision we are now taking measures to amend the wording," Ecotricity said. "We always adhere to ASA rulings and believe they have a valuable role to play in monitoring consumer advertising."

Source: http://new.edp24.co.uk/cont...

FEB 22 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/1410-wind-power-it-was-all-huff-and-puff
back to top