The presence of so many utility executives at the presentation of Australia's national Green Power program by Zoi and Bun in Sydney on May 14 was perhaps proof enough of the greening of the power industry. Unlike their customers, the utilities have no real choice. The Australian electricity industry has, with few exceptions, been dragged, cajoled, and pushed into offering consumers a green choice. Many observers are surprised that the green power program launched by the Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA) (Windpower Monthly, May 1997) has got as far as it has in just one year. "It's just fantastic," says Zoi, admitting she never expected the rest of the industry to grab and run with the green power product. Zoi says Australia is decidedly out in front of most other countries in the marketing of green electrons.
The country's Green Power program will allow 75% of the population -- some 13 million Australians -- to buy some or all of their electricity from renewable sources through premium based schemes such as energyAustralia's Pure Energy program in New South Wales (NSW). Customers who buy all of the electricity under the program are charged an extra A$0.038/kWh.
Although the initial pilot program in NSW did not attract the 25,000 customers Zoi expected, some 17,000 households are buying green power through eight electricity retailers. In addition, some 800 commercial customers have signed up. Zoi says this new market has pushed $43 million of new investments into renewable energy projects.