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So why are Greenchoice customers paying a carbon tax?

By johnboy - 10 August 2012 71

The SMH has an intriguing story on complaints to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission by Canberra Greenchoice customers who are being hit with a carbon tax despite paying through the nose for years for supposedly carbon free electricity:

ActewAGL retail general manager Ayesha Razzaq said the utility was aware the ACCC was watching companies and “we are certain that we are not misrepresenting the impact of the carbon pricing to our customers”.

“ActewAGL understands that this is confusing for many customers and paying the carbon price for a green energy product goes against the grain of common sense. But this isn’t a straight forward matter, and ActewAGL certainly does not benefit from this scheme,” she said.

“In a nutshell, green power is a voluntary government-accredited program that enables customers to purchase renewable energy for their homes, when they actually make that voluntary purchase of green power, they are supporting the product of electricity from renewable sources over and above mandatory government targets that are set by the government. So you cannot separate the electrons; the energy doesn’t directly feed into your home, it is added into the electricity grid … on the customer’s behalf.”


UPDATE 10/08/12 14:51: Thanks to Erg0 for pointing out that the ActewAGL website is still claiming they’re buying carbon free electricity to balance the use of their Greenchoice customers:

greenchoice

What’s Your opinion?


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71 Responses to
So why are Greenchoice customers paying a carbon tax?
johnboy 1:12 pm 10 Aug 12

I’m sorry, I distinctly recall being blathered at, at length, that for every green electron consumed one was going to be bought and put into the network so it didn’t matter which electron came out of my socket.

Now I’m hearing it was all just fairy dust? Odd, that’s what I said it was back then but ActewAGL flunkcies were all “No No No we’re putting the green electricity into the grid”.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back 1:07 pm 10 Aug 12

Regardless of whether you agree with it or not (and I don’t), the whole point of pricing carbon is to encourage more environmentally friendly activity, including energy generation, distribution and consumption. The feds have decided that all of Australia will bear this responsibility, and that the free market will sort things out on this basis. (We won’t talk about certain groups being compensated for now).

Paying for green energy is admirable, but has just become compulsory. As such, you have two choices:
1) Pay for ‘regular’ electricity and contribute to environmentally friendly electricity through the mandated carbon price; or
2) Pay for both the green energy option AND the carbon price.

I don’t think the green energy surcharge was ever about supplying individual properties with actual, certifiable green energy. It was still a good idea, though.

As for me, I’ll be going for option (1) above.

astrojax 1:05 pm 10 Aug 12

Grail said :

(a few staff even have electronic calculators on their desks).

what? no abacus?? sheesh – kids today…

Deref 12:43 pm 10 Aug 12

“Confusing”? It’s not confusing – it’s fraud, pure and simple. I’d love to see ACTEWAGL taken to court over this. Class action, anyone? In the meantime, everyone paying extra for “greenchoice” (I’m one) should cancel.

NFI 12:41 pm 10 Aug 12

The real issue is the current pricing structure has been approved by regulators, so to change their approach they would need to initiate another pricing determination process. These processes are costly and time consuming in themselves – probably not worth the effort for a dozen green power customers.

gentoopenguin 12:36 pm 10 Aug 12

Hmm, as a Greenchoice customer I shall be voting with my feet on this news and switching back to normal electricity. This stinks.

Antagonist 12:33 pm 10 Aug 12

housebound said :

Confirms all my suspicions about GreenChoice being just a covert way of raising prices for the gullible.

Voluntarily bending over and spreading their cheeks for ACTEW. D!ckheads.

DrKoresh 12:27 pm 10 Aug 12

Grail said :

ACTEWAGL can’t even handle monthly billing or unified billing: I think it is unreasonable to expect them to be able to handle prorating carbon tax based on Greenchoice percentage. I hear rumours that most of their accounting is still done with pencil & paper (a few staff even have electronic calculators on their desks).

If I am paying for 100% green electricity, I should not be paying any carbon price. THAT IS THE WHOLE POINT OF THE CARBON PRICE: encouraging consumers to buy green energy. The Carbon Price is a Pigovian tax.

100% green? No way, I call BS. Somewhere along the line you’re contributing to CC just like the rest of us, like from the appliances you’re powering with the energy. If there was such a thing as 100% green energy, Climate Change would be a non-issue.

davo101 12:22 pm 10 Aug 12

Joshua Gans has a post on this today:

The reason for the confusion is that green energy has never been about actually purchasing green energy. Instead, when you sign up for that you are paying extra for the retailer to do things that promote zero emissions energy — this could range from investing in solar or wind power to purchasing offsets. In principle, you net emissions are zero but your electricity emissions continue to be positive. Hence, the carbon tax.

That means that an electricity retailer pays a carbon tax and passes it on to all consumers. That is what we are seeing here. To be sure, green consumers reduce the electricity retailer’s carbon bill but that benefits everyone. So they are, in effect, giving a donation to non-green energy consumers. That is something I am pretty sure they didn’t have in mind.

p1 12:20 pm 10 Aug 12

I can’t believe that they (the Commonwealth guberment and ACTEW/every other electricity company) didn’t see this one coming and get out in front of it.

housebound 12:02 pm 10 Aug 12

Confirms all my suspicions about GreenChoice being just a covert way of raising prices for the gullible.

shirty_bear 11:57 am 10 Aug 12

I don’t buy Greenchoice power coz I think it’s a dumb way to approach the issue … if they want to feed us “green” power, go ahead. Spread the cost. Just do it, don’t half do it. Or pretend to be “green” but do sod all.

But – if I did buy Greenchoice, I’d be ropable right now. This is absolutely outrageous.
And I’m angered by the arrogance, incompetence, and arrant disregard for the intelligence of their customers that ACTEW display.

It is now my expectation that ACTEW are simply trousering the extra $$ they charge Greenchoice customers.

dpm 11:46 am 10 Aug 12

So if they can’t “separate the electrons; the energy doesn’t directly feed into your home, it is added into the electricity grid … on the customer’s behalf” then how can they make people pay more for their ‘green’ energy? Apparently they don’t know which electrons green customers receive, so therefore they have to pay the carboon tax…. What if i’m not getting the ‘green’ electrons I asked for? Can they proove I am?
They can’t have the argument both ways, can they?
This certainly is bad PR and gives me a bad taste about their motives for green energy plans for the previous few years…

Grail 11:32 am 10 Aug 12

ACTEWAGL can’t even handle monthly billing or unified billing: I think it is unreasonable to expect them to be able to handle prorating carbon tax based on Greenchoice percentage. I hear rumours that most of their accounting is still done with pencil & paper (a few staff even have electronic calculators on their desks).

If I am paying for 100% green electricity, I should not be paying any carbon price. THAT IS THE WHOLE POINT OF THE CARBON PRICE: encouraging consumers to buy green energy. The Carbon Price is a Pigovian tax.

arescarti42 11:25 am 10 Aug 12

This sounds like a total crock of s*** to me.

ACTEW had better come up with a better explanation than “you can’t separate the electrons”, or I suspect the ACCC will be getting a lot more complaints.

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