05/12/2007 - 22:00

Report backs energy system

05/12/2007 - 22:00

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Western Australians can be confident their certified renewable energy purchases through energy retailers such as Synergy and Alinta come from renewable sources, according to an auditor general’s report.

Report backs energy system

Western Australians can be confident their certified renewable energy purchases through energy retailers such as Synergy and Alinta come from renewable sources, according to an auditor general’s report.

The report, which examined whether renewable energy bought and sold by state government agencies actually is from renewable sources, found that the renewable energy bought by WA consumers was certified with Renewable Energy Certificates through the federal government’s Mandatory Renewable Energy Target and the state’s GreenPower program.

Both programs are designed to encourage consumers to contribute towards extra generation of electricity from renewable sources through retailers’ purchase of Renewable Energy Certificates, which in turn places a premium on renewable energy purchases by consumers.

Examining whether the GreenPower program has increased the supply of renewable energy in WA, the report says that, since 2001-02, electricity generated by accredited renewable sources on the South West grid has increased from 1 per cent of total energy generated to 5 per cent at June 2007.

The mandatory target and GreenPower programs have contributed to this increase.

But while supply of renewable energy has increased, the sales of GreenPower to both commercial and residential customers remains significantly lower than in other states.

Only one in every 164 WA households was buying GreenPower at June 30 2007, compared with rates of between one in nine and one in 17 in other states.

WA had the lowest number of residential customers buying GreenPower out of all the states, with 4,988 people buying green energy, and the second lowest number of commercial customers at 635.

Energy retailer Synergy says its green energy customer numbers have increased 19 per cent since the introduction of its EasyGreen product on October 1, with a 149 per cent increase during the past year.

Synergy’s active marketing in recent weeks of its EasyGreen product, which allows customers to set a dollar amount to be applied to their Synergy account for the purchase of renewable energy, has led to an additional 1,300 customers signing up purchase green power.

“We are committed to increasing the sale of renewable energy in WA, and this finding can give the public the confidence to contact Synergy and sign up for one of our green energy options, knowing without a doubt it is coming from renewable sources,” Synergy’s Andrew Gaspar said.

The report also examined the use of individual contracts to buy electricity equivalent to the output of a particular renewable generator.

Particular reference was made to Water Corporation claims that the power used at its Kwinana Desalination Plant is offset by renewable energy generated at the Emu Downs wind farm near Cervantes.

While Synergy buys 66 per cent of the electricity generated by wind farms to fulfil its contract with the Water Corporation, along with 66 per cent of the Renewable Energy Certificates produced by Emu Downs, the certificates were not part of the transaction between Synergy and the Water Corporation.

Therefore, the report says, the contractual arrangement to power the desalination plant does not ensure that additional renewable energy is generated.

In response to the report, the Water Corporation said its contract with Synergy for energy from Emu Downs was key in enabling the project to reach financial close, therefore ensuring that a significant renewable energy project was constructed in WA.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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