Guest Post by Tim Kelly. Tim works as a Principal Climate Change Advisor in the Water Industry and is a regular contributor to Brave New Climate.
It was disappointing this week to see the level of confused and incorrect statements and criticisms in the media regarding GreenPower. Yes there are problems with GreenPower both currently (before an emissions trading system) and in the future (when a true cap on emissions comes into play) yet most of media reports this week incorrectly identified the issues in the flurry of copy and paste journalism and rush for comments by the experts.
The players that were silent in this flurry were GreenPower and the ACCC. These players could clear the air by explaining the problems in law and how GreenPower does reduce Australia’s emissions now but does not reduce customer emissions.
If you would like to understand renewable energy accounting in full without the green spin, I have prepared a this PDF slideshow ‘Renewable energy accounting in the new policy environment’ (20 slides in total).
The problems with GreenPower, and its double counting are not new. In fact I have been working on this matter since 2005. Initially, I sent constructive comments and concerns to the relevant agencies and program managers. I complained to the then Australian Greenhouse Office, the Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator, to the former Minister Campbell. I have made countless submissions that articulate the issues.
I had advised the Office of Minister Wong of the looming problems and sent a registered letter to the Prime Minister.
Despite efforts, the problems of GreenPower were built into law when the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) Act and NGER Technical Guidelines 2008 came into force. Renewable energy benefits of ‘use’ and ‘reduced emissions’ was assigned to all customers rather than to the paying customer. GreenPower marketing continued unchanged.
I advised GreenPower, complained to the ACCC, and following a number of responses that did not address the issues, I again complained to the ACCC and copied my complaint to the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman in 2008. This year (on April 14) I formally complained GreenPower and later to the state Ombudsman Offices covering those states that are represented on the GreenPower Steering Committee.
All kinds of responses have been provided. Most totally misrepresent the issue or seek to find ways to avoid fixing or even acknowledging the problems.
Whilst I cannot provide any details of any investigation, the Commonwealth Ombudsman Office (to their credit) has been making enquiries in regard to my complaint about the ACCC role since late last year. My understanding is that a report was close to release before the media circus of last week, which has now caused further delays.
All I can hope for is that customers be told plainly and simply what they are donating their money to when they pay for GreenPower and what this does. This would create the conditions for any reforms that might be necessary.
So take a look at the slideshow ‘Renewable energy accounting in the new policy environment’ if you would like a detailed understanding. I have also attached, at the bottom of this post, links to a few past submissions which cover the issues as the NGERS, the CPRS, Expanded RET and the NCOS have evolved.
Further Reading (follow hyperlinks for PDFs)
Joint submission  with Professor Barry Brook to the Senate Economics Committee Inquiry into the Exposure Draft of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.
Submission to the Department of Climate Change on the Discussion Paper for a Proposed Carbon Offset Standard
2007 Submission on the Discussion Paper for a National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Framework