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Genesis Energy welcomes ruling on rival promotion

Genesis Energy welcomes ruling on rival’s misleading promotion

Genesis Energy today welcomed a decision from the Advertising Standards Complaints Board that a promotion from TrustPower to Genesis Energy customers offering “renewable energy for less” was misleading.

The ASCB agreed with Genesis Energy that TrustPower had oversimplified a complex electricity market and tried to lead customers to believe that if they swapped from Genesis Energy to TrustPower they would be buying a power supply from only renewable sources.

TrustPower had sent letters to Genesis Energy and Energy Online customers that were headed: “Would you prefer renewable energy for less?” and continued with: “Switch to TrustPower and you will be supplied by a company that produces its power supply from wind and water.”

The ASCB said each statement in the letters were technically correct but when read in the light of the opening question, “Would you prefer renewable energy for less?” the statements implied the customer would be supplied with only renewable energy from TrustPower’s generators.

TrustPower did not inform readers of the letter that the electricity market consists of a “pool” into which all generators sell their electricity and all retailers buy their electricity to on sell to their customers. The ASCB concluded that the energy supplied to customers was derived from a combination of all generation supplied to the pool at any given time and on any given day.

The ASCB also found that the letters implied that a switch to TrustPower would result in a reduction in energy produced by burning fossil fuel and a corresponding increase in the production (particularly by TrustPower) of renewable energy, The ASCB disagreed with this claim, finding that any increase in investment in renewable generation depended on a number of factors including the economies of change and government policy.

Genesis Energy General Manager Retail, Dean Carroll, said while it was fair for electricity retailers to compete for customers on the basis of price and customer service, it was unacceptable for one retailer to make misleading claims about their electricity product at the expense of another’s.

“Sustainability and carbon neutrality are becoming household terms and we all are working hard to make our businesses as sustainable as possible,” he said. “But to claim you can sell purely renewable electricity, or that switching to a solely renewable generator is supporting renewable energy, is to ignore the complexities of the electricity market,” he said.


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