- Adam Morton
- The Age, May 20, 2009
Households that voluntarily pay extra for electricity to support renewable energy are likely to cancel GreenPower subscriptions unless climate change policy is changed, community groups say.
The Alternative Technology Association, a clean energy group, said a survey found one in three of its members would consider returning to "dirtier, cheaper" electricity unless they knew their higher bills would cut Australia's overall greenhouse gas emissions.
Under recent changes to the Federal Government's emissions trading scheme, cuts due to GreenPower purchases would be measured and taken into account when reducing the number of pollution permits available to industry.
The commitment earlier this month covered only GreenPower subscriptions above 2009 levels, not the 900,000 households and businesses that already support clean power.
Consumer group Choice warned that existing subscriptions would make it cheaper for aluminium smelters and coal-fired power stations to emit carbon dioxide.
A spokeswoman for Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said this week GreenPower subscribers had already been factored in - in December, when the Government set its emissions reduction target range.
She said the Government considered GreenPower's role in improving the energy efficiency of the electricity sector when setting the range of a 5-15 per cent cut below 2000 levels by 2020. (The range was expanded to include a 25 per cent cut.)
The Alternative Technology Association's Damien Moyse said this was the first time the Government claimed to have factored GreenPower into targets.
"I don't understand the logic of the Government using the recent significant increases in GreenPower purchases to justify a low target," he said. "It has underestimated the community desire to make a difference."
Choice senior policy officer Victoria Coleman urged people to keep buying GreenPower, but to push for the policy to be changed. "(Consumers) want their actions to be counted and this amendment doesn't get to that issue at all," she said.
"The Government is destroying consumer confidence in a growing industry … and risking its commitment to developing a green economy."
The change to measure future GreenPower subscriptions followed Labor senators warning the emissions scheme was losing support due to a perception it did not encourage personal cuts.