Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Powershop - switch and save

We've recently switched our electricity provider to Powershop. I'm highly recommending it. Here are 8 reasons why it's a great choice.

Renewable energy makers

Whichever electricity retailer I choose, they're going to make a profit from me. I'd prefer that profit to go to a good company. Powershop is owned by Meridian Energy, which also makes renewable energy. That's the kind of company I like to support.


Greenest electricity provider

The Green Electricity Guide ranks electricity companies on their green credentials. This includes emissions from power stations they own, their policy positions on renewable energy and fossil fuels, their deals for solar consumers, and their promotion of energy efficiency.

Powershop tops the list every year and is one of only two companies with a 5-star rating.


Cheaper Electricity

Electricity costs are made up of two parts - the daily 'supply charge' and the 'usage rate'. Both of these are cheaper than our previous provider. Also, their pay-on-time discount applies to both areas. Other providers generally offer their discount only on the usage charge part of the bill.

To compare to your current provider, check out energymadeeasy.gov.au.

Extra "David-discount"

You won't see much advertising for Powershop. Instead of paying for TV ads, they just give the money to customers. What a great way to do business!

If you sign up with my special link you'll get $75 credit and so will I.


Top-ups

Powershop also does billing better. You can top-up your credit at any time (like a prepaid phone or a public transport card). You get a discount for doing this. For example you can buy $100 credit for just $85.

Smaller bills

Powershop bills monthly rather than quarterly. (Yay!) Apart from making it easier to budget for, it's also less of a shock because each bill is around one-third what you are used to paying. Powershop also lets you know a few days ahead of time, so you have a chance to double-check you have enough credit to cover the bill.

What about my solar panels?

The Energy Made Easy site doesn't really cater for solar households. You might have to compare the rates to your current bill. Generally their solar rates are good (part of their great environment score). Here's the link to check rates for your area.

What do other customers think?

Powershop is big in Victoria (their first state). Amongst its customers there it rates 5-stars in most categories and out-rates the major retailers by quite a margin.


Are there any negatives?

I know of only two possible negatives. The greenpower option is slightly more expensive (at least compared to my previous provider). However, as 100% Greenpower customers we found this small extra cost was offset by Powershop's great base prices. Even with our 100% Greenpower the overall cost was practically identical. The sign-on bonus was waaay more than the tiny difference in cost. We changed mostly to support a renewable energy company with better business practice. If you're not a purchaser of Greenpower, then you should have lower cost, and a sign-on bonus.

The only other thing is that your very first bill may be based on estimated usage. Powershop bills monthly, but physical readings are only done quarterly. So your first bill may seem bit low or high. This will even out once they've done a physical reading. Or you can choose to enter your own DIY meter readings via the website.

In summary

If you're looking for the cheapest deal, Powershop's a great choice.

If you're looking for the greenest electricity company, Powershop's a great choice.

If you'd like more for the solar power you export, Powershop's a great choice.

If you'd like to receive a sign-on bonus, Powershop's a great choice.

Here's my special link to get your $75 bonus credit.

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Climate for Change

When the media and politics talk climate change there's we hear a lot about renewable energy versus coal. Fair enough, electricity does account for 34% of our country's emissions.

But what about the rest? ABC's Four Corners program did this documentary about Australia's emissions, where we are compared to the rest of the world, and what can be done to improve.

Here is my quick summary. You can also watch it online, or read the transcript.


Transport

19% of emissions
Transport emissions are growing because our population is growing and our demand for transport is increasing. Our vehicles are improving but not quickly enough to match our increased use.

We currently have no emission standard on vehicles. In the USA and Europe vehicles are more efficient and cheaper to run.

Some countries have already started phasing out petrol and diesel cars in favour of electric vehicles. Norway is the leader with 31% of new cars being electric. In Australia it's 0.2%.

Even in the UK, there are 29 affordable models of electric cars (under 60,000 AUD). Here in Australia we have 4.

Industry

30% of emissions
Australia is the world biggest exporter of natural gas (LNG). If the countries that buy this gas are burning it instead of coal, that's good for world emissions. But Australia's emissions are higher because of the energy used to extract, liquefy and transport it.

The industry's rate of improvement in energy use and carbon intensity is at the bottom of world standards. Why?

Australia has a 'baseline' system where big polluters are each given an emissions cap. If they exceed that cap they are penalised - at least in theory. One-third of big polluters have been allowed increase their cap. Emissions from these polluters is up 12% in the last four years.

The rules around changing the cap we changed last month. Bizarrely, they make increasing the pollution cap even easier.

Agriculture

15% of emissions
Agricultural emissions is usually a hard area to find reductions. There are a lot of methane emissions from livestock. However, Australia's science agency CSIRO has discovered a natural feed-additive that reduces livestock emissions to almost zero.

Electricity

34% of emissions
Electricity emissions are trending down as renewables replace coal and gas. Transgrid, the network operator in NSW say the last time they connected a coal power station to the grid was 1992. Wind and solar are very affordable now.

French company Neoen started in Australia in 2012, and now have built half their global capacity here. They say a long term goal is needed and that such a goal is not a burden but a certainty for investors.

At the moment 2/3 of Australia's power still comes from coal. These power stations are old and due to close. We need to start soon and do so in an orderly fashion, so that they don't all close at once.

Current Policies

The current government buys carbon reductions by giving money to projects that reduce emissions. Sounds good in theory, but there are two issues.

As discussed earlier, companies are being allowed increase their pollution so this "emissions reduction fund" is not reducing emissions, just trying to make up for industry's increase.

Secondly, some projects would still occur without the government funding. So we're spending money on projects that would happen anyway.

In short we're spending money we don't have to spend and emissions aren't reducing.

International commitments

So how will we meet our Paris target of a 26% reduction in emissions? The current government is looking to use "credits" from a previous time period where we met our targets.

One of the experts on the documentary said it's like failing your year 12 exams and trying to increase your mark because you got excellent results in year 8.

Also the Paris meeting was held in 2015. Next year all the nations gather again and are expected to improve their targets. The way we're going we can hardly reach the weak targets we currently have.

Conclusion

Despite Australia doing so poorly at the moment, there is much hope when we see what is possible. One of the experts has the opinion that "when the debate is over, the economy and people will move forward and take a lot of advantage". I'm looking forward to that.

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