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Energy Suppliers Misleading Customers With ‘Green’ Tariffs

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Some energy suppliers in the UK have been accused of selling ‘green tariffs’ to customers, despite none of their energy coming from renewable sources.

The consumer group Which? carried out an investigation and found that certain energy suppliers are promising 100% renewable electricity to their customers, although they don’t have any contracts to buy clean energy from generators. Therefore, consumers up and down the country believe they are powering their homes with energy from renewable sources such as wind farms or solar panels when in reality their energy is coming from non-renewable sources.

Energy suppliers are currently entitled to advertise 100% renewable electricity if they buy Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGO) certificates. These can cost just £1.55 per year per customer.

“As consumers grow ever-more environmentally-conscious, it’s concerning that some suppliers appear to be ‘greenwashing’ their energy tariffs, which could risk misleading customers,” said Richard Headland, editor-in-chief at Which?. “We believe there needs to be greater clarity on how renewable electricity is defined and marketed. People can only make informed decisions about where to buy their energy from if firms are more upfront and transparent about their green credentials.”

The industry’s trade association, Energy UK, said: “Ofgem rules allow suppliers to label their tariffs as renewable if they either generate renewable power themselves, buy directly from generators or purchase renewable certificates equivalent to the amount supplied to their customers. The purpose of these certificates is to incentivise renewable generation, so all customers are increasingly using renewable energy.”

Some of the firms accused of misleading customers include Ovo Energy, Shell Energy, Green Star Energy, So Energy and Pure Planet. However, some of these energy suppliers have hit back at the accusations.

Steven Day, co-founder of Pure Planet, said: “Pure Planet is proud to supply 100% renewable electricity and carbon offset gas to homes all over Britain. Any suggestion that we mislead our members is both untrue and defamatory. Which? has shown a fundamental misunderstanding of the way electricity is generated, certified, traded, managed by the grid, and supplied.

“As a consequence it has labelled many supply companies in completely inappropriate ways. All green suppliers have to use REGOs to verify that the electricity used by their customers is matched by electricity generated from renewable sources. Pure Planet uses the very same green certifications as every other green supplier. There are no separate or different grades of REGO.”

Fergus Cole
Fergus Cole

Fergus is a journalist specialising in the personal finance, energy and broadband sectors. He also has a passion for travel and adventure so tries to make the most of this in any spare time he gets.

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