The UK power regulator Ofgem has launched a scheme aiming to stop big power companies ripping off customers with ‘scam’ green energy tariffs that do little or nothing to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Ofgem’s ‘green certified’ label will only be granted to green electricity tariffs that have genuine environmental benefits. This is expected to exclude several “green” tariffs offered by major power companies (although at launch all the major power companies’ green energy schemes were still included).
For the first time green energy suppliers will have to prove to an independent panel of experts that their energy tariffs result in a reduction of a minimum threshold of carbon dioxide emissions.They will also have to show that generating activity associated with a green energy tariff is additional to the existing legal obligations — power companies have to meet Government targets for sourcing renewable electricity and reducing household carbon emissions.
The aim of the new scheme is to rebuild confidence in green energy and increase the uptake of green electricity tariffs said Sarah Harrison, senior partner, sustainable development, Ofgem, “Ofgem‟s guidelines and the new independently applied label will help give consumers peace of mind that when they buy a green electricity deal it will bring an additional environmental benefit – this is good news for consumers and for green tariffs.”Ending Scam Tariffs
An Ofgem spokesman said the scheme has been introduced in response to deliberate attempts by power companies during the last six years to confuse customers over what is and what isn’t clean green electricity. “It’s not fair that they call it green when it’s their legal obligation,” he said.
He added that some power companies have heaped insult on injury by charging more for green tariffs that aren’t even green in the first place. “It seems extraordinary that companies should be allowed to lure customers with promises about tariffs that they say are green, and charge them a green premium when in reality they are no greener that their standard tariff.”
The move has been supported by ethical power companies and environmental groups. Keith Allott, Head of Climate Change at WWF-UK said: “For far too long, green energy tariffs have been a swamp of misleading and confusing claims – and have done little or nothing to drive forward new renewable energy schemes. We hope that the new guidelines and certification scheme will be implemented robustly, and begin to give consumers some assurance that by choosing a green energy tariff they are making a difference.”
Juliet Davenport, founder and CEO of Good Energy, which chaired the Green Guidelines Working Group, said: “Consumers want to know that they are making a real difference to climate change and thanks to this new green energy scheme they can now be assured of it. This scheme should put an end to greenwash in the market and, under the leadership of the independent panel, should significantly boost demand for renewables in the UK.”
For domestic green energy tariffs, the minimum threshold definition has been set at one tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions a year if the environmental activity is carbon offsetting and 50 kg of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions per year for all other environmental activities such as community-based renewable electricity projects.