UK Electricity Retailer – Good Energy sells itself on the basis that it supplies 100% green energy to its customers and also stimulates the progress of new renewable energy. It’s product is supported by green groups such as Friends of the Earth and the National Consumer Council.
Good Energy claims that it stimulates the progress of new renewables by ripping up its green obligation certificates (ROCs). This – in theory makes the certificates more scarce and the resulting effect is a hike in the market price for the ROCs, thereby stimulating more renewable energy development.
A green energy row has however broken out between Good Energy and competitor Ecotricity. Ecotricity CEO Dale Vince says that Good Energy has been lying about the percentage of ROCs it rips up – or ‘retires’.
According to Vince, Good Energy has been saying for some time that it retires 5% additional ROCs when in fact electricity regulator Ofgem – who holds the figures has confirmed that this is not the case. The Ecotricity boss accuses Good Energy of committing “serial deceit, perhaps fraud….Good Energy have been putting profits before promises, deceiving the consumer groups that have been recommending them”
Good Energy says on its website “We remove from circulation an equivalent of 5% of ROCs above the required for our annual obligation every year“. The company says that it has not been misleading and that the ‘equivalent of 5% ROCs’ is not the same as 5%. In 2006/2007 the company retired 2124 ROCs (around 41% of a 5% ROC retirement policy).
Choosing the greenest electricity supply is not straightforward. A key factor to bear in mind is that some retailers – such as Good Energy, provide 100% green electricity that they have bought but do not actually develop and build new renewable energy. Other suppliers such as npower Juice and Ecotricity actively seek to develop new renewable energy – building wind energy projects and spending money or R&D in new technologies such as tidal power. To find out more information on what companies are spending on new renewable energy technology ‘WhichGreen‘ energy tariff website puts together an annual league table. Scottish Power invested £300 million in total last year, although it is noted that this investment was in one mega onshore wind farm, just outside Glasgow.