In a previous post I wrote to Good Energy asking them to respond to the British Gas Zero Carbon tariff. Thank you to Owen Broadway of Good Energy for responding. His reply to my enquiry is below, and I've made some comments below that.
Thanks very much for your enquiry. We appreciate the time our customers take in looking at how relevant we are to the ongoing battle against climate change. We also appreciate the opportunity to air our credentials in a public forum such as the one you have provided.
Although British Gas has launched 2 new green tariffs; they withdrew their Green Electricity & Climate Aware green tariffs in the spring of 2007 after the National Consumer Council found that they added no additional environmental benefit and were lacking in consumer transparency.
To really look at the efforts British Gas are making we need to look at exactly how the electricity they supply is made. In 2006 just 3% of the electricity British Gas supplied came from renewable sources – less than the government requires them to do, and Centrica, owner of British Gas, is building new power stations that run on coal – the most carbon intensive fossil fuel.
The Zero Carbon tariff offers to reduce a household’s carbon emissions to zero - this is being achieved mainly through carbon offset schemes. Although carbon offsetting offers a bridging solution, reducing electricity consumption and replacing the way it is generated are the primary solutions to combating Climate Change.
Good Energy supplies 100% renewable electricity NOW; cutting your carbon emissions from your electricity consumption immediately.
It is true that British Gas’s new Zero Carbon tariff plans to retire Renewable Obligation Certificates above the government obligation. Good Energy has always retired additional ROCs, helping to raise the market price for renewable generators and attracting further investment into the renewables market. This has led to us consistently being recommended by Friends of the Earth, The Good Shopping Guide and Ethical Consumer Magazine.
Similarly, Good Energy has also always held onto 100% of its Levy Exemption Certificates (LECs) to ensure that the renewable benefits of the electricity supplied are not double counted.
Good Energy is unique in the UK because ALL of the electricity we supply comes from renewable sources and is backed by 100% Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGOs), as opposed to one tariff from a company supplying millions of other consumers with fossil fuel created electricity.
I hope this goes some way to answering your questions, if there is anything I can offer more detail on please do not hesitate to give me a call.
It's me speaking again. Good Energy are a great company, I've been a happy customer of theirs for years. However I think they've just been out-greened by BG Zero Carbon in the key area of ROCs retirement. My plea to Good Energy is to make the bold move of retiring 100% of their ROCs. I'm aware that this will increase the electricity price hugely, but I for one would pay up, knowing that the electricity was truly green.
One of Owen's points against BG Zero Carbon hits home, and that's the carbon offsetting element. Carbon offsetting is dodgy and I'd rather avoid it.
Another genuine problem with BG Zero Carbon is that it's only available with dual-fuel. I intend to stop burning fossil fuel gas, and signing up to something that involves burning gas seems a backward step.
If British Gas were serious about climate change, they'd stop burning fossil fuels. However, if they come up with the greenest tariff, then it's still the right thing to do to sign up with them despite the rest of the company not being green.
In summary I'll not be switching to BG Zero Carbon for the time being because of their carbon offsetting nonsense and dual fuel racket. However, Good Energy must retire more of their ROCs because they're not as good as BG Zero Carbon on this most important point. I'd also like to see Good Energy publish their ROC retirement percentage prominently on their website (I couldn't find it anywhere).