Waste, energy and water

How to get the best GreenPower electricity deal

What to ask and what to watch out for in your renewable electricity plan

Alana Stocks - GreenPower customer

Switching to a GreenPower electricity plan is one of the biggest actions you can take against climate change. You'll slash your yearly household emissions by as much as 46%.

Choosing GreenPower is also the fastest and easiest way you can help grow the renewables industry in Australia.

Signing up for an electricity deal can be confusing – but the reward is reducing your carbon footprint. Big time.

GreenPower is a nifty option for: - renters – residents and businesses – who want to make the switch to renewables - apartment dwellers who don’t have rooftop space for solar panels - home owners who can’t install a rooftop solar system - home owners with rooftop solar who want to use 100% renewable electricity around the clock.

And it doesn’t have to cost more than regular electricity. By shopping around, you can find a GreenPower plan that costs around the same as your current plan.

Below are a few tips to help you get a good deal and evade greenwash traps.

Start by creating a shortlist of providers

Comparing providers online is one way to get a general idea of costs.

Most electricity providers sell GreenPower, but they might call it something different, like green energy. And, annoyingly, it's often really hard to find on their websites.

We highly recommend using the Australian Government's comparison website Energy Made Easy.

By law, energy companies must provide information about their plans for this website.

Make sure you tick the GreenPower box and look out for the GreenPower logo.

Be wary – GreenPower is usually an extra cost and not necessarily included in the total estimated cost figures shown.

While GreenPower is often singled out as an additional charge, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll end up paying more than you do now.

When Sam from Dulwich Hill in Sydney shopped around 7 companies for a GreenPower plan he came up with estimates ranging from 23% more to 3% less than his existing (coal) plan.

“I was really surprised at the range of estimates and that I could pay less.”

Sam at his Dulwich Hill Home
Sam at his Dulwich Hill Home

Cost isn’t the only deciding factor for many people.

If you care about company ethics, you might want to do a little of your own research into each provider.

The Green Electricity Guide is an independent, unbiased ranking of providers based on power stations they own, their policies, investments, sustainability reporting and more.

Call providers

Often, direct contact with a sales representative can unlock even bigger savings.

We highly recommend you pick up the phone and speak to several companies directly.

Once you’ve got your shortlist of electricity companies, call them and ask questions like these:

  • I’d like an accredited 100% GreenPower plan, what’s your most competitive offer?
  • Do your rates include GST and what are the other recurring charges?
  • Is it an ongoing offer or just for a limited time?
  • Are there one-off fees (for example, connection)?
  • Can you match my current black electricity plan?
  • Can you match this GreenPower offer from a competitor?

Have a copy of your latest bill handy (here’s a guide to help you understand the jargon).

You’ll be able to refer to your current charges quickly.

Some companies may offer to do a comparison plan for you based on your past bills.

Also, it’s important to be explicit in asking for accredited “100% GreenPower”.

Companies often try to offer other ‘green’ plans, like carbon neutral plans.

But these plans are not about 100% renewable electricity and they don’t support the growth of Australia’s renewable sector.

We’ll come back to this later.

If your shortlisted provider says you’ll be charged more for GreenPower, consider using one of these polite but firm statements:

  • “I know other providers are offering GreenPower at more competitive rates. Can you match them?”
  • “You are my preferred provider, but I will look elsewhere if you can’t offer a competitive price.”
  • “Are there any circumstances under which you could offer me a better deal?”

Carbon neutral versus 100% renewable electricity

Some providers offer 100% carbon neutral plans and many talk about carbon offsets.

When you’re on the phone to providers, expect their customer service staff to stress these plans are cheaper than GreenPower. But there’s a difference.

Offsets don’t remove the source of emissions.

GreenPower does.

For carbon neutral or carbon offset plans, providers commit to buying carbon offsets equivalent to the emissions related to your electricity use.

They’re not buying or producing renewable electricity.

When you opt for 100% GreenPower, you’re guaranteed to be upping Australia’s renewably-sourced electricity production.

And you’re giving the federal government a red hot signal you’re serious about wanting Australia to transition to renewable energy.

Making the switch

We hope you feel energised to dig out your electricity bills, shortlist providers, give them a call and make the switch this week.

When you do you’ll be joining more than 160,000 other environment-loving GreenPower customers.

We’d like to make the process of going renewable easier for you. If you have questions about GreenPower, or getting solar installed, email us at renewableenergy@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au

Alana Stocks, founder of Surry Hills digital agency Circul8, GreenPower customer
Alana Stocks, founder of Surry Hills digital agency Circul8, GreenPower customer

Published 29 September 2020, updated 30 May 2022