10 Sep 2007

Renewable electrity

I met Eloise at the Green Drinks last week and she mentioned something to me I didn't know yet, and I suppose there are heaps of people who do not realise this that's why I like to share this with you:

Dear WA resident,

Do you buy renewable electricity (NaturalPower) for your home – or were you thinking of doing so?

Did you know that from 1 October, NaturalPower users will be forced to pay an increased tariff for this environmentally-sound option – but people buying conventional, polluting fossil fuel-based electricity will continue to pay the same low prices until 2009?

People helping to 'Beat the Peak' with SmartPower will also face a price hike.

It is bad enough that 20,000 NaturalPower and SmartPower residents will be unfairly hit at the hip pocket, but worse, this is about Synergy and the WA Government undermining the community's attempts to address climate change.

Annoyed? Want to do something? Here is something quick and effective:

1. Find out your electorate. If you like using maps, go to
http://boundarieswa.com/2003/Boundaries/Metropolitan-Area/ and zoom in until you find your area. If you don't like maps, visit http://www.waec.wa.gov.au/frames.asp?section=info&content=checkForm.asp , fill out your details and it will tell you.
2. Check your MP and their email. Identify your electorate MP and their email address from the attached list.
3. Email your MP . Email your MP the proforma letter attached below, ensuring you update it with your name and address – easy!
4. Email Synergy . Email Synergy's Managing Director Jim Mitchell using the second letter, again inserting your name and address, then email to
jim.mitchell@synergyenergy.com.au .
5. NOTE - Cc both emails to
Smartandgreen@gmail.com . This will help us keep track of the number of letters sent.
6. Forward this email!! We're hoping to reach as many Synergy customers as possible so that we can send a strong message to Synergy and the WA Government!

Synergy's price hike from 1 October will see NaturalPower customers paying 4.4 cents extra per kilowatt hour for electricity compared to conventional electricity users, instead of an extra three cents/kwh, as currently. This represents a 146% cent increase in the Naturalpower tariff. SmartPower customers will pay up to 25% extra.

For an average household using NaturalPower, this price hike will mean paying an extra $77 a year on top of the $165 they were already paying extra to be environmentally-sound!

Synergy (which is owned by the State Government) has justified this by calling NaturalPower and SmartPower "additional products", which are exempt from the WA's Government's cap on household and small business electricity prices until 2009.

In other words, WA residents who are doing the right thing by either buying renewable energy (NaturalPower customers) or helping to "beat the peak" (SmartPower customers who pay stepped tariffs according to time-of-day usage) are being penalised as if they are buying a luxury product.

Synergy has provided no proof that the price of supplying renewable electricity has gone up to justify this hike - and neither has it provided any explanation as to why SmartPower prices are increasing.

In fact, while the NaturalPower and SmartPower tariffs have remained the same since 2000, the tariff for conventional fossil-fuel-based electricity has remained the same for the past 15 years!

Meanwhile, WA lags well beyond all other States in the number of people buying renewable electricity. Our current uptake rate is one of the fastest – however will it remain so after 1 October?

Want to share your views, ideas or questions? Email

This price hike sounds expensive – I might stick to fossil fuel electricity!
We can't tell what you do, but we can tell you that even with this price hike, NaturalPower is competitive with other green power providers in Australia. Synergy is offering customers ways to adapt to the extra costs – but this may involve reducing your renewable electricity use. We suggest looking at your unit (kilowatt hour) usage on your bill and calculating difference the extra 1.4 cent/kwh will make to you. The new NaturalPower rate will be 18.34cents/kwh (incl GST), compared to 13.94 cents/kwh for electricity sourced from polluting coal and gas.

Who are SmartandGreen?
We are two concerned NaturalPower customers, Eloise Dortch and Jasmine Horobin, who also happen to be students of Sustainable Development at Murdoch University 's Institute for Sustainability and Technology Policy.

I will forward the email with the letters and the list of MP's to everyone on the mailing list of the Green Drinks. If you are not on there please send me an email if you want these letters/list.

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