Green Is The New Black

Sharon Timms

Filmmaker and TEDxSydney speaker Damon Gameau became the highest grossing Australian documentarian of all time at the cinema with his work, ‘That Sugar Film’. His follow-up film, ‘2040’, is an innovative feature documentary that explores what the future would look like by the year 2040 if we embraced the best solutions already available to us to improve our planet. In the film, Damon talks about solar power, and how it can enable households and communities to donate or sell excess power to create micro-grids of electricity. He envisions a world in which owning a car will go the same way as owning films on video or DVD, and travel will be more focused on using driverless electric cars and an expansion of public transport. 

As a wise frog has been saying for years, it’s not easy being green. However, as occupants and custodians of this planet, we have a responsibility to protect what the good Mother Nature gave us. Green energy plays a pivotal role in energy transition due to its low environmental impact. GreenPower is the government managed program that allows individuals and businesses to support green energy – that is, renewable energy regeneration. 

For most people, protecting the environment is the main reason to buy into GreenPower. But why else should we choose GreenPower? What are the advantages? And how can we switch to it? 


What is the GreenPower Plan?

Even though the conversations around global warming can be overwhelming, the surprising truth is that each of us can have an immediate impact on the production of greenhouse gases, and if enough of us act together in these minor ways, the cumulative effect will be dramatic. While it takes nothing to switch off a lamp, unplug the phone charger, take a shorter shower, or walk or bike instead of drive, switching to a 100% accredited GreenPower electricity plan is often the single, best thing people can do for our environment – particularly if they can’t install rooftop solar like many people in inner Sydney.

The GreenPower Plan is a way for individuals to help get more electricity made from renewable sources, like wind and solar, into our national electricity grid. It works just like a regular electricity plan, but when you opt for 100% clean energy, your electricity provider needs to buy the equivalent amount of electricity you use from renewable electricity generators instead of coal power stations.

Almost all electricity providers sell clean energy options but it’s not always easy to find and select it on their websites – it’s often buried in the sign-up process as an optional extra. GreenPower is the only accredited and audited renewable energy program; it’s a federal government initiative, and takes as little as ten minutes to switch in when you know where to go. To highlight their commitment to a healthier planet, the City of Sydney is running an awareness campaign to accelerate the take-up of GreenPower electricity plans, with other councils across Sydney also looking to do the same.


Why are City of Sydney doing it?

To have any hope of reaching our local area target of net zero by 2035, we need more residents and businesses to switch to renewable energy sources urgently. We know many people in our community want to go 100% renewable and want Australia to transition to renewably sourced energy. The City of Sydney wants to get more renewably sourced energy into the national energy grid and subsequently slash carbon emissions. 

Most people in our city areas can’t install rooftop solar – more than 75% of the population live in apartments and more than 50% rent. At present, switching to a GreenPower electricity plan is the next best thing they can do. Many people in our community have asked us for help in understanding what they can do that really counts, outside of recycling, riding bikes and recharging. Awareness of GreenPower electricity plans, and how impactful it is to opt for GreenPower, is low… which is why we’re spreading the word.


What to watch out for

Many electricity companies are pushing carbon neutral electricity plans at present, which are an inferior option to accredited GreenPower. With carbon neutral plans, energy companies buy carbon offsets from climate action projects around the world, however they don’t do anything to move Australia away from dredging up and burning fossil fuels. GreenPower electricity plans, on the other hand, buy the equivalent amount of electricity you use from renewable electricity generators, and help get more electricity from wind and solar farms made – they help reduce the source of dirty emissions. Carbon neutral plans don’t.

Electricity also costs money, and costs are steadily rising – we know this. If you call your current provider and get quoted a much higher rate than you pay now, shop around. Electricity prices change all the time. You should be able to get 100% GreenPower deal for like what you pay now. (Note: All electricity prices rose in July 2022.)


Okay, how do I make the switch?

We know so many of the TEDxSydney audience are clever and love a challenge, so they’ll sleuth until they find exactly what they’re looking for. If you’re a ‘best practice’ person, you’ll want to ensure you’re on a plan with 100% GreenPower. There are more than 10 electricity companies that sell GreenPower in Sydney, and they make it so very easy to switch – just look for the GreenPower logo, and find the provider that suits you best.


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