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Renewable power deals condemned as a ‘greenwash'

Hundreds of thousands of consumers are being misled by the green tariffs offered by power companies to boost renewable energy, says a report due out this week. The tariffs do virtually nothing to promote new renewable supplies and can be costly and confusing, according to the Carbon Accountability Programme, set up by environmentalists in Edinburgh. It accuses the six leading power companies of using "greenwash" to make their products seem more attractive.

Firms deny that green tariffs make no difference

Hundreds of thousands of consumers are being misled by the green tariffs offered by power companies to boost renewable energy, says a report due out this week.

The tariffs do virtually nothing to promote new renewable supplies and can be costly and confusing, according to the Carbon Accountability Programme, set up by environmentalists in Edinburgh.

It accuses the six leading power companies of using "greenwash" to make their products seem more attractive. But this is denied by the companies, who all claim to be investing heavily in renewable energy sources.

Some form of green tariff is offered by E.ON, EDF, ScottishPower, Scottish and Southern Energy, Scottish Gas and Npower. The German company, E.ON, for example, urges customers to switch to its Go Green Electricity scheme promising "100% renewable electricity from wind and hydro power sources".

The French firm, EDF, asks people to "sign up to our Green Tariff and promote the generation of renewable energy, as we will buy renewable energy equal to the amount you use on this tariff".

But Iain Thom from the Carbon Accountability... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Firms deny that green tariffs make no difference

Hundreds of thousands of consumers are being misled by the green tariffs offered by power companies to boost renewable energy, says a report due out this week.

The tariffs do virtually nothing to promote new renewable supplies and can be costly and confusing, according to the Carbon Accountability Programme, set up by environmentalists in Edinburgh.

It accuses the six leading power companies of using "greenwash" to make their products seem more attractive. But this is denied by the companies, who all claim to be investing heavily in renewable energy sources.

Some form of green tariff is offered by E.ON, EDF, ScottishPower, Scottish and Southern Energy, Scottish Gas and Npower. The German company, E.ON, for example, urges customers to switch to its Go Green Electricity scheme promising "100% renewable electricity from wind and hydro power sources".

The French firm, EDF, asks people to "sign up to our Green Tariff and promote the generation of renewable energy, as we will buy renewable energy equal to the amount you use on this tariff".

But Iain Thom from the Carbon Accountability Programme argued that both companies would have bought the renewable electricity anyway, even if nobody had signed up to their green tariffs. "They are buying renewable electricity simply because it is profitable under the government's renewable obligation incentives," he said.

"For the past six years the big six energy companies have simply repackaged their existing activities and sold them off as green. They can claim to provide 100% green energy to customers without actually delivering any additional renewable energy to the grid."

There had been "widespread greenwash" and "double counting", said Thom, with only a few small, independent companies offering any accountability.

The Carbon Accountability Programme was set up in October by Friends of the Earth Scotland, with funding from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust.

The industry regulator, Ofgem, has been trying to produce agreed guidelines on green tariffs, but a draft in July was rejected by some power firms. Thom is calling for the final guidelines, delayed until next year, to be toughened up.

"Ofgem has failed to provide clear guidance as to what constitutes a green tariff," he said. "With these new guidelines Ofgem has the opportunity to make sure these tariffs promote new and additional renewable energy, and are completely accountable."

Ofgem agreed that there was public confusion over green tariffs, but insisted its new guidelines would resolve the problem. "We are clear that green tariffs have to offer additional benefits and can't just be a repackaging of existing practices," said an Ofgem spokesman.

The power companies all defended their green schemes. E.ON said it had "at times" paid a premium to purchase renewable energy because of the demand from customers on its green tariffs.

"A high market price for renewables acts as a stimulus to the development of the renewable generation market," said a company spokeswoman. "We do not participate in the practice of double counting' the carbon benefit of our renewable energy."

EDF pointed out that its green tariff was linked to a green energy fund which had awarded £3.2 million to 188 projects since 2001. "The fund supports renewable energy projects which produce power from the sun, wind, water and geothermal sources that reduce greenhouse gases linked to global warming," said an EDF spokesman.

Scottish and Southern Energy claimed to be the UK's leading producer of renewable energy and said it was committed to investing £3 billion to double its renewable capacity by 2013. "SSE's commitment to renewable energy is definitely not greenwash," said a company spokesman.

ScottishPower stressed that it was the UK's biggest developer of wind power. "Our Green Energy Fund tariff has allowed customers to donate their combined gas and electricity annual discount to the ScottishPower Green Energy Trust, an independent charity that supports renewable energy projects all over the UK," said a spokesman.

Scottish Gas described its Zero Carbon tariff as a "truly green" solution, though it cost more. "It is essential that customers have confidence in green energy tariffs and that their credibility is not damaged by tariffs that claim to be green, but in reality do not deliver any incremental environmental benefits," said the company.

Npower also dismissed the suggestion that green tariffs had not done any good, pointing out that its "juice fund" had donated £1.3m in grants to help development of wave and tidal power devices.


Source: http://www.sundayherald.com...

DEC 21 2008
https://www.windaction.org/posts/18351-renewable-power-deals-condemned-as-a-greenwash
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