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Energy firms are ‘misleading’ customers by selling ‘green tariffs’ despite producing NO renewable energy, investigation reveals

October 5, 2019

By Paul Homewood

 

 

h/t Dave Ward

 

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Energy firms have been accused of potentially misleading customers with claims about their ‘green tariffs’.

Some firms that claim their electricity is ‘100 per cent renewable’ do not run any wind farms or even pay for a specific amount of power from green sources to match customer demand.

Instead, they can get away with making this claim by simply paying a small annual fee – of only £1.55 per customer per year – to a firm that does generate renewable energy.

Energy firms have been accused of potentially misleading customers with claims about their 'green tariffs'

Energy firms have been accused of potentially misleading customers with claims about their ‘green tariffs’

An investigation by Which? found a long list of firms that all claim to sell ‘100 per cent renewable’ electricity tariffs without generating renewable energy themselves or having contracts to buy it direct from generators.

Instead, they rely on what are effectively accountancy measures that involve paying small fees to buy Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGO) certificates.

The consumer group said: ‘REGO certificates can be purchased by suppliers from renewable energy generators for as little as 30p to 50p per megawatt-hour (MWh).

‘With the average customer using 3.1 MWh of electricity a year, a supplier could buy REGO certificates to match this usage for as little as £1.55 and state their customer’s tariff is 100 per cent renewable.

We are concerned the system allows suppliers who rely exclusively on REGOs to "greenwash" their tariffs while seemingly doing very little to support new renewable electricity generation.’

Which? said the firms at risk of misleading customers include Green Star Energy, Foxglove Energy, Shell Energy, Ovo Energy, Pure Planet, So Energy, Tonik Energy, and Yorkshire Energy.

For example, Green Star Energy claims to source all electricity from renewable generators, but neither owns renewable generation nor has any contracts with renewable generators.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7510377/Energy-firms-misleading-customers-selling-green-tariffs-despite-producing-NO-renewable-energy.html

 

As I have noted before, no matter how much “green energy” these companies sell to gullible customers, the amount of renewable generation remains the same. Wind and solar power both effectively receive preferential access to the market, which allows them to sell of the power they produce.

The idea that each new customer on a green tariff leads to more renewable generation is fraudulent.

37 Comments
  1. October 5, 2019 7:17 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate- Science.press.

  2. charles wardrop permalink
    October 5, 2019 7:18 pm

    Par foor the Greenies’ course, costly, fraudulent, mendacious, ultimately ruinous.

  3. Joe Public permalink
    October 5, 2019 7:53 pm

    As long as there are gullible Greenies out there – good luck to the companies legally extracting revenue from them.

    • Gamecock permalink
      October 5, 2019 11:17 pm

      Yep!

      “It is immoral to allow a sucker to keep his money”

      I had a confrontation with a neighbor a couple of years ago when he put up a sign in his yard saying he was using renewable energy. “Dude, you get your electricity from the same substation I do!”

      “Blah blah blah.”

      Next day, the sign was gone.

      It should be expected for the market place to react to the silly demands for renewable energy. People will pay extra for a sign to put in their yard showing they are purer than you are. Fine. Take their money.

  4. Stonyground permalink
    October 5, 2019 8:00 pm

    All of this was completely obvious to anyone with a clue about engineering. If only we could sell 100% renewable energy to the idiots honestly. They get to pay what it actually costs and they spend most of their time sitting in the dark because there isn’t any renewable energy available just now.

    • John Palmer permalink
      October 5, 2019 8:23 pm

      Quite so, SG!

  5. Robert Jones permalink
    October 5, 2019 8:41 pm

    I have challenged two potential suppliers of so-called ‘total green energy’ about the reality of their claims but without anything other than ‘muffled’ responses. If this obvious fraud is coupled with the fact that wind turbines draw free electricity from the national grid to keep their ancillaries working it makes me wonder if we are the gullible users of a corrupt national energy scam. It won’t be worth taking the Climate Change Committee to task because its members dwell on another planet.

  6. JimW permalink
    October 5, 2019 9:06 pm

    Paul, that’s nothing, the Netherlands does it on a national scale, buying the certificates from Norway and then saying they meet their carbon targets.

    • Joe Public permalink
      October 5, 2019 10:47 pm

      That’s on a par with Fiat Chrysler (FCA) that it is to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to Tesla, the zero-emissions electric carmakers, to avoid getting hit by European Commission fines.

      https://www.euractiv.com/section/electric-cars/news/fiat-chrysler-to-pay-tesla-for-co2-emissions-credits/

      By implication, Tesla cars are therefore technically carbon emitters!

      YCMIU

      • Iain Reid permalink
        October 6, 2019 8:09 am

        Joe,

        not just technically but practically as well.
        Unless electric cars are charged with 100% renewable power (Norway is probably closest to that with all it’s hydro generation) then they are charged with fossil fuel generation. The transfer of vehicles from liquid fuel to electricity increases grid load and only fossil fuel generators can respond to that increased load. (I am ignoring hydro for the vast majority of countries as it is such a small contributor)
        I have been saying this for a long time but the ‘zero emissions’ tag is continually applied by the media and the government!

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      October 6, 2019 12:12 am

      The low down is here:

      Well worth a watch with the English subtitles even if you don’t speak Dutch. The day the BBC broadcasts this adapted to our situation will never come.

  7. Dave Cowdell permalink
    October 5, 2019 10:24 pm

    Huh, that is nothing, at Sizewell A there was a sign that coal was 14.2p kWh and nuclear 7.2p. I asked that I could only be supplied with nuclear. The first big disillusionment of my career.

  8. It doesn't add up... permalink
    October 5, 2019 11:54 pm

    I discovered there are companies who will greenwash a customer’s purchase of power by offering certificates based on things like Indian solar power. The scope for pigges bones in such indulgences should be obvious.

  9. Graeme No.3 permalink
    October 6, 2019 12:49 am

    Doesn’t this leave the Suppliers open to being charged with fraud? Falsely claiming that the extra cost of supply would be “pollution” free.
    A hungry law firm and a group action would hinge on the definition of “green”.

    • October 6, 2019 11:15 am

      Instead, they rely on what are effectively accountancy measures that involve paying small fees to buy Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGO) certificates.

      – These certificates are plain fraud. Electricity is supplied according to the bucket-brigade principle, so direct wiring are required for the certificates to be genuinly valid. They know that, but don’t bother, so yes, they can be sued.

      If you live close to a coal or nuclear power plant, the chance of getting electricity from “renewable” sources, is slim to none. If promised “100% renewable”, for sure it’s a deliberate con. There are also no way to identify the origin in the existing grid, except between a power plant and the first switchgear.

      Alternatively, to make the certificates valid, the solution is running several electrical grids in parallel, separating the different source types, but that doesn’t make any economical and enviromental sense, obviously.

      • Gamecock permalink
        October 6, 2019 4:23 pm

        “If promised “100% renewable”, for sure it’s a deliberate con.”

        My favorite is Apple claiming they run their servers with “100% renewable.”

        Look at their Maiden, NC installation on Google Earth. It’s 3 miles WNW of Maiden. Big solar farm on east side of it. The power lines from it run N-S. They DO NOT go near the server facility.

        There is a substation visible just behind the server building, on its west side. High tension lines running N-S and NW-SE feed it. These two high tension lines cross about a quart mile below the server farm.

        I was a project manager setting up a server farm for my company location. I demanded two different/separate electric feeds. It paid off big time for us when stuff happened. I can say, professionally, you can’t run a server farm off a solar farm. It is preposterous. But what Apple says passes for truth.

        https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2018/04/apple-now-globally-powered-by-100-percent-renewable-energy/

        This just isn’t true. Look at Maiden. Trace the wires.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        October 7, 2019 9:59 am

        I recall at WUWT they highlighted an Apple or Google location that was actually right next door to a major coal fired power station with the links entirely visible. Any time it was running it would have been 100% supplied by coal. Power only flows in one direction at a time on transmission lines.

  10. October 6, 2019 2:36 am

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  11. Phillip Bratby permalink
    October 6, 2019 6:27 am

    This comes as no surprise. The climate change scam, which has led to the massively subsidised renewable energy scam, has caused all sorts of low-life to emerge and defraud or rip-off the public (without the public realising it).

  12. Steve permalink
    October 6, 2019 6:39 am

    I can recommend Greenstar, which has supplied my home for 5 years. They were the cheapest, have a good response office and send presents like expensive light bulbs. Obviously, the green electricity is nonsense as it can’t be separated and the total mix applies to all customers. Ovo rely too much on inflated estimates and my smart meter installed by them in another house never worked.

  13. john cheshire permalink
    October 6, 2019 8:52 am

    I’m currently taking my gas and electricity from Pure Planet. Not because I give a damn about green energy or saving the planet, solely because it is the cheapest tariff for me at the moment and as soon as another company offers a cheaper tariff I’ll be off to them.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      October 6, 2019 11:24 am

      That’s a reasonable strategy until we get another upswing in gas prices. Then you might wish you had taken out a forward fixed price deal instead. In recent times gas prices have been driven to surprisingly low levels – as little as 1p/kWh at wholesale. The falling prices have allowed smaller companies who typically do not hedge forward to any great degree (partly because they don’t have enough capital to offer the necessary collateral) to undercut bigger companies who do hedge forward to match the assumptions in OFGEM’s bill benchmarks. Small companies will lose out when prices rebound.

      You also need to keep an eye out to avoid companies getting into trouble – for example this lot:

      https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/publications-and-updates/ofgem-orders-four-suppliers-pay-147-million-renewables-obligations-31-october-2019

  14. sonofametman permalink
    October 6, 2019 10:44 am

    There is one use for so-called ‘smart’ meters: If you sign up to a ‘100% renewables’ electricty tariff, you should be obliged to have a smart meter, and agree that the supplier cuts you off on windless nights. Reality based corrective therapy.

    • Gamecock permalink
      October 9, 2019 1:59 pm

      I disagree. Smart meters would be beneficial if used for time-of-day tariffs. Power companies must have capacity available around the clock. Capacity means fixed cost. ToD shifts in usage can lower power companies fixed cost, hence consumers cost.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        October 9, 2019 4:04 pm

        The biggest users have long been subjected to Triad pricing, where a very large fraction of their energy bill is set by their consumption during the three highest demand half hours for the grid as a whole over the winter. Of course, it encourages them to provide their own generation rather than actually stop their operations, probably at higher cost than could be achieved in a well designed grid. But the effect on peak demand as seen by the grid is quite clear: peaks are now not much higher than shoulder demand (i.e. normal daytime use). So much so that OFGEM are now considering abandoning Triad pricing altogether and just charging on the basis of maximum offtake whenever it occurs.

        https://www.inenco.com/insight/blog/ofgem-signals-end-to-triads-what-the-targeted-charging-review-means-for-businesses/

        Some of the other plans are user unfriendly: loading all the network cost onto consumers is a subsidy for distant wind farms and interconnectors.

      • Gamecock permalink
        October 9, 2019 8:02 pm

        Yes, my company locations were hit with demand charges, amounting to tens of millions of dollars a year. Our charges were based on peak usage. One time. Usually sometime in August when heat conditions required the most air conditioning.

        U.S. residential customers do not pay demand charges. I would have no problem if they did. But ToD usage rates could move the market to significantly less usage. To wit, when we involved with power cost told the plant businesses they could save massive money by shutting down on extreme hot days, they didn’t care. Meeting production schedules, etc, were more important to them. So I assume demand charges wouldn’t have much affect on residential usage, either.

        Having people who cause higher demand pay for higher capacity makes sense to me. But I don’t want to anything complicated. Two residential rates is enough for me. Peak and off peak.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        October 10, 2019 12:03 pm

        As we move to high levels of renewables, demand ceases to be the dominant factor. It becomes windy or calm, and sunny or dark instead.

  15. Gerry, England permalink
    October 6, 2019 10:47 am

    So what? Since I don’t subscribe to the Which? view of being ‘concerned the system allows suppliers who rely exclusively on REGOs to “greenwash” their tariffs while seemingly doing very little to support new renewable electricity generation’ it doesn’t bother me. I am not aware that any of the claimants is charging a premium for supplying only renewable energy as was the case in the past where I was quoted virtue signalling at an extra £400 a year. And even if that were the case I wouldn’t be signing up and if others are so virtuous or ill-informed then it is a good business opportunity.

  16. jack broughton permalink
    October 6, 2019 11:17 am

    These certificates of low carbon are the green equivalent of medieval indulgences. The comparison with simple religious beliefs extends beyond the “believe the science” meme.

    • Bertie permalink
      October 6, 2019 9:40 pm

      Ain’t that the truth!

  17. October 6, 2019 9:41 pm

    Greenwashing is a fraud and as such, it should be treated. Energy firms offering green energy should be made to prove that their energy is really clean. This means that if they can’t produce as there is no wind or solar, they must declare 100% something else, most of the time fossil. The today usual process of give and take is a sham. Green virtue signallers run their Teslas on lignite power and nukes. I am fine with that but make them say so.

  18. October 7, 2019 5:44 am

    Reblogged this on ajmarciniak.

  19. MikeP_UK permalink
    October 9, 2019 10:26 am

    The electricity distribution system cannot differentiate between ‘green’ and non-green energy. So every consumer connected to the mains supply system gets a mix of energy from all possible sources. To claim to only use ‘green’ energy is a total lie and technically impossible unless you generate all your own energy and have no mains connection to your property. All who claim to supply ‘only green energy’ are committing a serious fraud and those who claim to only use ‘green’ energy (as did the boss of Marks and Spencer a few years ago) are deluded liars.

    • Gamecock permalink
      October 9, 2019 2:02 pm

      10-4. You should have heard my neighbor stammer when I asked him if they ran new power lines to his house so he would get his ‘green’ energy.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      October 9, 2019 4:29 pm

      You could probably work it out if you had access to the grid’s network management software with data on all the generators and centres of demand and which links of the transmission system are operational and their capacity limits. The power flows have to follow basic physical rules: the total power flowing into a node of the network must be the same as the total power flowing out of it, and flows are unidirectional at any point in time (but may vary as the configuration of generation and demand changes). If you live close to a major power station (include wind farm and solar farm) it’s likely that it will be providing all of your power any time it is operating, whatever is happening in the rest of the system. The rest of its power will flow further afield into the transmission system, and will start to be shared with other sources the more links downstream are passed. Of course, if your local generator isn’t operating, or only providing derisory output, your supply will come from further afield and is likely to be from a mixture of sources. If you live somewhere where there is little generation relative to demand (e.g. London), you will be getting a mix all the time – nuclear from France, coal from Rotterdam, nuclear from Sizewell, probably CCGT from various stations around the Home counties, and some wind from the London Array and maybe even as far away as Hornsea on a windy day and “biomass” from Drax on a windless one.

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