GreenPower and renewable matching promises - is there a difference?

I’m comparing electricity offers and I’m interested in changing to Red Energy. The plan I am interested in includes a renewable matching promise – Red Energy says that for every unit of electricity I buy, its parent company Snowy Hydro will match it by generating one unit of electricity from a renewable source. That promise comes at no extra cost.

Red Energy also offers a GreenPower option. The Energy Fact Sheet says that when you choose to buy a GreenPower product, the retailer invests the additional charge in the renewable energy industry.

I’m trying to work out whether the renewable matching promise means that I’m effectively buying green power or not. I have asked Red Energy. The person I spoke to said that GreenPower and the renewable matching promise were the same but then couldn’t explain why one was “free" but the other cost 4.84c/kWh.

I’ve read the Choice review as well: It says that Red Energy offers several products including solar feed in tariffs and a renewable matching promise (GreenPower), which also makes it sound like the two are equivalent, but again if that’s the case why is one included in the cost of the plan when the other comes at an additional cost?

My preference is green power, but I don’t want to pay extra for it if I don’t have to.

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Educated guesswork here. Seems some smoke has infiltrated the offers.

Snowy Hydro generates (green) hydroelectric power by definition. They sell all they produce and it goes into the grid just like power from every other source. The key drivers are electric demand and the water used to spin the generators. Consider if you sign up for anything special from Red whether Snowy would generate more (or less) power from their hydro facility since that is their main source of generation anyway, being a subsidiary of Snow Hydro. $0 makes sense.

Taking your words at face value that could be anything from maintaining their hydro facility to building Snowy 2.0 to earmarking it for a solar or wind farm. The extra $ might be explained?

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Thanks Phil, that all makes sense. What I’m hoping to uncover is their actual contractual promise.

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I have always been dubious of claims by power retailers about ‘green’ energy plans.

Between the retailer and the generators are the distributors, who actually deliver the power. The electricity is all mixed up from various generating sources and put onto the power network. How much from green sources at any given time. Only they would know.

Can’t see how a power retailer could provide any sort of guarantee of where the electricity comes from. They just buy it and bill for it.

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This might help understand the $ charge.

With the cynical nature I have, I could see the extra amount paid on the tariff for a ‘green’ plan being directed back to ‘green’ generator Snowy Hydro, 100% owner of Red Energy, to pay for the millions it is going to cost to extract the tunnel boring machine that is currently stuck trying to build Snowy 2.0

Yes, but, the electrons used in your home will be from any generation source. The integrated network means that the electrons generated by the renewable matching promise, viz Snowy Hydro will match it by generating one unit of electricity from a renewable source will be added to the grid to meet demand at that time - not delivered directly to your home.

This option won’t increase renewable generation capacity but buys existing available renewable generation. In theory, if demand for existing renewable generation increases beyond supply, prices may increase causing a higher likelihood in investment in renewables. Changes in prices will be reflected in the tariffs offered for the supply contract to you.

The green power option means that the additional charge goes towards increasing renewable generation capacity. In theory this means that the additional charge is invested to try and ensure demand meets or exceeds supply.

In reality, both options will result in greater investment in renewable generation, one directly and one indirectly. Assuming the GreenPower Option ‘guarantees’ that the energy purchased to meet your consumption is renewable, I would be selecting the offer which is in your best financial interests - as the outcome will be the same at the end of the day.