Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Scottish and Southern Electricity's RSPB Energy cock-up part 2

Energywatch and RSPB have now responded rapidly to the Low Carbon Kid's complaint about Southern Electricity yesterday. The customer call centre operator who I spoke to yesterday was wrong to say SSE supplies 90% of renewable electricity.

The true amount is 7.5%.

See their SSE Fuel Mix Disclosure Table lst updated 5 days ago (search for 'fuel mix' and scroll to the bottom of the results).

If a tariff is advertised as 100% renewable, this usually means that for every unit of energy you use, the supplier should ensure that an equal amount of energy from renewable sources is brought onto the grid.

They have not done this, and I have asked them to assure me that they'll make it up. The call centre manager blamed the mistake on "human error".

Energywatch says "There are no set guidelines for compensation in such a case. In the circumstances it would be reasonable to expect that both you and the RSPB receive whichever benefits would have been provided over the time of the contract you have agreed with them." I have told RSPB what has happened.

Energywatch continues: "In 2006-07, Energywatch is looking to deliver powerful evidence that, with the right information and motivation, consumers can make a major contribution to carbon reduction targets through their own usage.

"We are also arguing for the establishment of a reliable accreditation scheme for Green Tariffs to ensure consumers can transfer to them with confidence in their enviromental credentials.

"If you have raised a complaint against SSE and remain unsatisfied with their response, we may be able to assist more directly. If you need us to intervene, or investigate, on your behalf, you will need to call us on 08459 060708 or complete the complaint form on our website."

I hope others who think they're on a green tarriff will perform a similar check.

RSPB's attitude

RSPB Energy's Neil Barton has also ben quick to respond.

He says: "Had you been successfully transferred your metered usage of electricity would have been matched by 100% renewable generation - largely hydro, but including 10% of other sources like wind power and biomass. The more customers we are able to attract to the scheme, the greater the renewable capacity needed to supply them.

"In addition to the 100% renewable supply, the monies generated for the RSPB by the scheme are used by the RSPB and SSE in very specific ways:

1. To buy land to offset the predicted damaging impacts of climate change and sea level rise

2. to establish small scale renewable capacity on RSPB sites (to reduce our own emissions but also to raise the profile of the issue to visitors) and,

3. through the retiral of Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) at a rate of 10%, to encourage the development of new renewable capacity.

The latter is complex, but in essence means that for every 10 RSPB Energy customers enough renewable electricity is generated for an additional average household.

Scottish and Southern

SSE is the UK's largest renewable generator and has an 8 year programme of investment on renewable generation of £850m.

This investment will see renewable generation grow to 2000MW by 2008.

Over 600MW of this will have been installed since the start of the Renewables Obligation (April 2002).

By 2008, over 50% of SSE's renewables generation will qualify for ROCs.

RSPB Energy's Neil Barton says "My understanding is that currently roughly 15% of SSE's total generation capacity of 10,000MW comes from renewable sources". By SSE's fuel mix disclosure he seems to be wrong by 200%.

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Anonymous said...

Isn't this 'green tariff' from major electricity generators just a con? I think it is.

Say the generator produces 10MW from renewables and 90MW from coal, gas and nuclear. A single tariff would provide 10% of electricity from renewables and 90% from polluters. But if all the renewable electricity, up to 10% of the total electricity for sale, is moved into a 'green' tariff then that just means that the 'non-green' tariff (I think they usually call it 'standard') contains correspondingly less electricty from renewables.

The only way to test this is to demand more green tariff electricity than the supplier can produce. What would happen then? Would the terms of the green tariff suddenly change or would the supplier canibalise another producers renewable power generation? Or..?

Anonymous said...

I never considered that my supplier may be fibbing about the amount of green power they send me - I may have to do some more careful checking!

The best supplier I could find was ecotricity.co.uk, as they at least say their profits go to making more green electricity next time around.

As far as I could find, the "mixed" suppliers just apportion their profits from green tariffs as they want (which probably won't be propotionally green, although you'll probably never find out exactly what they're up to).

David T said...

See the more general upate on renewable tarriffs i posted here.