Environment Victoria Pulls Pin On Powershop Partnership

Environment Victoria and Powershop

Fossil fuel major Shell’s acquisition of clean and green electricity retailer Powershop has resulted in Environment Victoria dropping its Powershop partnership like a hot potato.

Shell announced on Tuesday it will acquire Powershop, an online-only energy retailer serving more than 185,000 customers, through acquisition of parent company Meridian Energy Australia Group. Shell said the acquisition is in line with the company’s “Powering Progress” ambitions to create an integrated power business; with Powershop to form Shell’s residential electricity platform in Australia.

“This acquisition is another example of how we are continuing to grow our footprint in Australia to meet customers’ evolving needs through the energy transition,” said Shell Australia chairman Tony Nunan.

“Australia’s greenest electricity provider”1, Powershop has grown with the assistance of partnerships. Among those was a partnership with Environment Victoria, which received a financial contribution for new customers it referred. Over 6 years, the organisation referred hundreds of customers and the contributions received from the arrangement helped fund campaigns against the fossil fuel industry.

It’s not difficult to understand the potential problem for the organisation with the new ownership. But perhaps Shell is turning over a new leaf and its acquisition should be applauded?

Shell has been doing a bit on the renewables front, including acquiring solar battery manufacturer Sonnen, and says it is committed to helping build a cleaner energy system in Australia. Last year, the company announced plans to become a net-zero emissions energy business by 20502.

But whatever it’s doing is not enough in Environment Victoria’s books.

“Extremely Disappointing”

The organisation’s reaction to the news was incredibly swift – and brutal.

“..the sudden and extremely disappointing announcement that Royal Dutch Shell will be the new owners of Powershop changes everything. They will now be owned by one of the world’s biggest climate wreckers.”

Environment Victoria says:

  • Shell buried their own research into climate change.
  • The company has spent decades funding climate denial groups and lobbying politicians to delay climate change action.
  • Shell is planning to expand its fossil gas business.

While acknowledging the dedication of the Powershop team:

“This is a reality that no amount of greenwashing can change. Shell’s actions and their values are fundamentally at odds with everything we stand for.”

And thus ended the partnership. Judging by comments on Environment Victoria’s Facebook page, the decision appeared to be generally well received. Meanwhile, Powershop’s Facebook page is littered with negative comments about the Shell acquisition. Powershop can expect to lose customers from this, but how many remains to be seen.

2021 hasn’t been a great year for Powershop. Back in April the electricity retailer paid $300,000 in penalties for allegedly discriminating against Victorian solar households under its Kogan Energy brand. It was a situation the company seemed genuinely repentant about – and not just because it was caught. Then-Powershop Australia CEO Jason Stein3 said at the time the team was “honestly gutted” over the issue.

Perhaps some of the Powershop team are feeling that all over again now.

Footnotes

  1. Meridian Energy own and manage hydro-plants and wind farms in New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia.
  2. But in May this year, a Netherlands court ruled Shell must cut its CO2 emissions by 45% compared to 2019 levels by 2030. Shell was not happy.
  3. Mr. Stein stepped down from his roles at Meridian Energy Australia and Powershop Australia mid-year.
About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Comments

  1. Gavin P Janson says

    A Powershop customer for 4 years and will need to find a new supplier. Can Michael suggest a few suppliers that operate in Brisbane?

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