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Greenpeace launches Clean Energy Guide

Greenpeace launches Clean Energy Guide

Whangarei Tuesday 1st November -- Greenpeace today launched New Zealand's first 'Clean Energy Guide' that ranks electricity companies according to their current and future impact on the climate, on a simple thermometer-shaped fridge magnet.

"Consumers have been in the dark for years about where their electricity comes from. Now the Clean Energy Guide gives clear, concise information for consumers to help them make the switch to clean renewable energy and protect the climate. By switching you send a strong message to energy companies that Kiwis do not want to buy - or promote - dirty electricity," said Greenpeace climate campaigner Vanessa Atkinson.

Greenpeace looked at how our providers currently generate electricity, their future generation plans and their policies for the future regarding renewable energy and fossil fuels.

Each company was then ranked according to its impact on the climate - now and in the future. A greater emphasis was placed on future plans and future policy commitments on energy sources. The worst climate offenders are in the red at the top of the thermometer - because of their contribution to global warming - and the cleanest electricity providers are at the bottom in the green (1). The ranking is based only on climate impacts and not on other environmental issues, nor is it an endorsement of any company (2).

"We are at an energy crossroads in New Zealand. We have important choices to make about which path we take: renewable, sustainable energy to tackle climate change - or dirty, fossil fuel-powered energy, which will heat up the planet. As a result of our investigations, we've found that New Zealand's number one climate offender is Mercury Energy, owned by Mighty River Power, followed swiftly by Genesis (Energy Online) and Contact (Empower)," said Atkinson.

"New Zealand has a fantastic wind resource. Companies at the top of the climate offenders list in the red, like Mercury Energy and its parent Mighty River Power should be investing in clean, renewable energy instead of dirty old, greenhouse-gas polluting coal," said Atkinson.

In a recent independent poll conducted by TNS for Greenpeace in October 2005, 70% of people surveyed would prefer to purchase electricity that comes from clean, renewable generation sources such as wind or hydro.

In some areas consumers may save money by making the clean energy switch. In others it could cost as little as a cup of coffee a month (3). 66% of people surveyed also said they would be willing to pay more for clean, renewable electricity. Of these, almost three quarters (74%) were prepared to pay an extra $11 or more per month, while over 10% were prepared to pay an additional $90 or more per month.

"Electricity companies should take their customers' preference for clean energy into account and stop investing in outdated, dirty fossil fuels like coal and instead invest in renewable energy like wind and solar," said Atkinson.

Greenpeace volunteers, together with local Whangarei residents, launched the guide in Whangarei today - home to Marsden B - New Zealand's first proposed coal fired power station in 25 years (4). They ran a renewable powered "switching booth" in central Whangarei mall where people could make the clean energy switch online. They also erected Billboards along state highway one saying 'Marsden B Gone, Switch off Mercury'.

Every household in the greater Whangarei district can expect a copy of the 'Clean Energy Guide' to arrive in their letterbox over the weekend.

Download the Clean Energy Guide and for more information visit: http://www.CleanEnergyGuide.org

NOTES TO THE EDITOR:

(1) Electricity companies were put into the following three categories. The worst climate offenders are in the red at the top of the thermometer and the cleanest electricity providers are at the bottom in the green.

Red Companies: Currently burn coal, oil or gas for electricity - or plan to do so in the future.

Mercury (MRP)

Genesis & Energy Online

Contact & Empower

Bay of Plenty Electricity

Orange Companies: Only use renewable energy sources for electricity, but have no policy to only invest in renewable sources in the future. (For the purposes of ranking "no policy to only invest in renewable sources in the future" also includes companies that have no stated policy on future generation options, or that refused to answer the question).

King Country Energy

Trustpower

Green Companies: Only use renewable energy sources for electricity and have a policy to only invest in renewable sources in the future.

Meridian Energy

Companies are allocated scores on the basis of existing generation and proposed generation and their policy on future energy development. A stronger weighting is placed on planned generation as these developments will determine our energy future. A greater penalty has been given to coal as this produces the most carbon dioxide of all the fossil fuels, therefore contributing the most to climate change. Positive emphasis is also placed on companies that have committed to only using renewable energy sources in the future.

(2) This ranking reflects the opinion of Greenpeace and is intended to give Greenpeace supporters and the public an indication of the relative impact of different electricity companies on the climate according to their use, planned use and policy commitments on different energy sources. The ranking assesses companies on their relative impact on climate change only. It does not assess companies on other environmental issues, nor is it an endorsement of any company.

(3) Based on an average Auckland household using prices from the Ministry of Economic Development price schedule and Statistic New Zealand's estimate of average yearly household usage at 8,000 kWh. Note exact price differences may vary depending on location and current supplier.

(4) Mighty River Power (who own Mercury Energy) is planning the first major coal-fired power station in the country for over 25 years, at Marsden B near Whangarei. The proposal attracted a nationwide outcry and a record number of submissions to the Regional Council (over 3,000), of which over 95% were opposed. Despite this, Mighty River Power was granted resource consents in September 2005 to proceed with the station. In October 2005 Greenpeace lodged an appeal against this decision in the Environment Court.

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