Day 11 : Get the greenest energy

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Should you change your energy provider ?

It's easy to make little switches - start buying fair trade, local, organic, vegan, and reusable products, for example. And it turns out people are actually doing this ! But it’s not so easy to make bigger decisions that are just as important, if not moreso, like investing in responsible funds or choosing a sustainable energy company.

Another thing: sustainability is an easy word to throw around. And because it's such an important issue right now, it seems like everybody is throwing it around. And frankly it's not that easy to distinguish between who's saying they're sustainable, and who actually is sustainable - unless you're an expert or have a lot of time on your hands.

So we wanted to learn more about what conscious consumers know about sustainability, particularly with regards to renewable energy. Why did you choose your energy provider? Do you know which companies are 100% renewable? Do you know what being 100% renewable actually means?

Here’s what we found:

  1. Of the 600 conscious consumer Kiwis who participated in the survey, when asked which energy companies they think are 100% renewable (out of a list of all providers in NZ), the majority of respondents said Meridian, Ecotricity, “none” or “not sure”.

  2. As a reason for choosing an energy provider, the most common response was related to cost: “good rates”, “cheap", and “price”.

  3. More than half of respondents said it’s very important to be with a power company that produces electricity from 100% renewable sources and very important to be with a power company that measures and offsets its carbon emissions.

100% renewable is a popular concept, but what does it even mean? It doesn’t mean carbon zero.

Geothermal energy, for example, is 100% renewable. But geothermal emissions are now higher than coal in the NZ electricity sector. Ministry for the Environment Emissions Report in 2016 stated “Emissions from geothermal have increased greatly in recent years. These increases are driven by an increase in geothermal emissions related to electricity generation…

And just because companies generate all renewables as a retailer doesn’t mean they don’t purchase coal.

Luke Blincoe from Electric Kiwi claims greenwashing is widespread throughout the power industry despite companies knowingly using fossil fuels to generate electricity.

"At a time when we've got councils claiming climate emergencies, we've got state-owned companies making claims that overstate their environmental position and will ultimately lead to complacency among New Zealanders," he said.

This is why we rely on the carboNZero certification for electricity. It’s how we can really know if a company’s total CO2 fuel emissions is zero.

The only carboNZero certified electricity is Ecotricity, which is why we are proud to partner with them (note: there is a big difference between carboNZero certified electricity and a carboNZero certified organisation).

Ecotricity really is the greenest energy in New Zealand. I just made the switch, and it took me less than five minutes. I was a bit worried about losing my power supply but then got this reassuring message:

Well done! Your details have been submitted successfully. We'll be in touch shortly to confirm the set up of your account. The switch to Ecotricity will be seamless and you will not notice any disruption to your supply. Any future direct debit payments with your previous supplier will also automatically cease. Thanks again for choosing New Zealand's only 100% Renewable and carboNZero certified electricity provider.

No, Ecotricity, thank YOU.

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