How green is your energy retailer?

The Australian Consumer's Association has reviewed Australia's energy retailers to measure how they compare with each other's green energy options.  Published in the latest online edition of CHOICE, the ratings are extracted below:

"Green power

If you care about the planet, it's time to act. Australia has one of the highest greenhouse gas emissions per person in the industrial world, and the vast majority of our electricity still comes from coal- and gas-fired power stations.

The big three electricity retailers – AGL, EnergyAustralia and Origin – still supply the majority of Australian households. But smaller retailers are snapping at their heels, and some have built their business models on green energy.

The 'greenest' of these – Powershop and Diamond Energy – are way ahead of the big three. We've scored retailers on how clean the electricity is that they generate or buy, their position on renewables and fossil fuels, and their support for solar households and the GreenPower scheme. See the table.

Best green electricity providers

Powershop – 86%

Melbourne-based Australian retail arm of New Zealand-based public company, Meridian Energy; Meridian owns two wind farms in Australia.



  • 100% GreenPower surcharge slightly above average at 6 cents per kilowatt hour
    (6c/kWh), but has highest percentage of GreenPower sales

Diamond Energy – 85%

Relatively small, privately owned, Melbourne-based retailer. US solar company Sunpower is one of their shareholders. Diamond owns two mid-scale biogas power plants and is involved with other renewable projects.



  • Public policy positions against coal and CSG investments
  • One of the few retailers publicly committed to not buying electricity generated by burning wood waste from native forests
  • 100% GreenPower surcharge below average at 5.5c/kWh
  • Good offers for solar customers


  • Small proportion of GreenPower sales relative to total sales, but Diamond says it's actively trying to change this

How did the biggest retailers score?

Origin Energy, EnergyAustralia and AGL all have investments in some green initiatives, but those investments are small compared to the money they have put into coal and gas generation. They've also all invested in CSG.

Origin Energy – 57%

Publicly listed company and Australia's biggest electricity retailer with more than 4.3 million customers. Owns one large black coal and several gas plants; invests in wind, solar and hydropower.


  • Origin told us it's committed to exiting its coal investments and to no further investments in coal in the 2030s
  • Against buying energy generated by burning native forest wood waste
  • Lowest surcharge of retailers surveyed (3.9c/kWh for 100% GreenPower). 
  • Good offers for solar customers


  • Major investor in CSG in Queensland

AGL – 51%

Publicly listed company;  the second largest electricity retailer. Owns gas- and coal-fired power plants. Invested extensively in wind farms and large solar plants but also invested in CSG.


  • In 2015 committed to close existing conventional coal-fired plants by 2050 and to not acquire or finance new ones
  • 100% GreenPower surcharge below average (5.5c/kWh)
  • Against buying energy generated by burning native forest wood waste
  • Top scores for transparency


  • Gives solar customers lower pay-on-time discounts than other customers
  • Has been trying to develop CSG in the NSW Hunter Valley

Energy Australia – 49%

Foreign-owned private company and third-largest electricity retailer. Owns coal-fired power plants; part-owns one wind farm and is involved with others.


  • 100% GreenPower surcharge below average (5.2c/kWh)
  • Top marks for transparency – only retailer to disclose carbon emissions of all electricity sales to us
  • Against buying energy generated by burning native forest wood waste


  • Invests in CSG and coal
  • Gives solar households lower pay-on-time discounts

Power-greening tips

The electricity sector is one of the dirtiest industries in Australia, creating about one-third of the nation's carbon emissions. So it's high time to clean it up.

Many consumers can now choose their energy retailer (except those in WA, NT, Tasmania and rural Queensland). Check out these websites to compare prices: in the ACT, NSW, Queensland, SA and Tasmania, or in Victoria.

Take these steps to reduce your carbon footprint: