Hello CoPower, Goodbye Powershop

One of our early acts after shifting to Bairnsdale was to change our energy retailer from Energy Australia to Powershop. Powershop was then one of the few retailers offering green energy from renewables. Even though they were far from the cheapest, when combined with our 4 kw solar array and a 30 cent per kilowatt hour solar tariff our account was always in the black. When the tariff dropped down to 7 cents kwh we stayed with Powershop because of their strong green credentials. As well Powershop ran, for over a year, a demand response program where customers were rewarded for curtailing their power usage at short notice, in which we participated.

In November last year, fossil fuel multinational Shell purchased Powershop, and by midway through December the ABC noted “thousands of Australians are cutting ties with an energy retailer that sold itself on its clean and green credentials after it announced it was being bought by Shell”. The “ABC has since gathered data from Powershop’s competitors that indicates it has likely lost at least 6,000 customers following the announcement.” We were part of that exodus joining non-profit retailer CoPower (abbreviated from Co-operative Power).

Formerly ranked top in the Green Electricity Guide Sophie Vorath in One Step Off the Grid wrote the “latest national ranking of the green credentials of Australia’s electricity retailers has sent Powershop tumbling down the order” to number 10, even though the only change was in ownership, and they continued their same services. This is still a high ranking compared with AGL at forty-eight or Energy Australia at forty-five. CoPower is ranked eighth, working through Energy Locals who are ranked sixth.

The CoPower website states that it is a non-profit retailer with a number of member organisations including unions and environmental groups, sells the power at wholesale prices, and has a monthly membership charge. Our account is currently in the black but that is beside the point, as after twelve years of climate activism we could never tolerate working with Shell.