Origin Energy, the largest energy retailer in Australia, is actively blocking renewable energy, a new report finds. The report, “Strangling Renewables: Origin Energy’s campaign against renewable energy” produced by 100% Renewable, a community campaign for clean energy, and Greenpeace Australia Pacific, inspects Origin’s energy dominance and the company’s quest to strangle renewables as part of its strategy to prolong the dominance of gas and fossil fuels.
“Two and a half million Australians have installed rooftop solar and are taking power generation into their own hands. These families are producing clean energy and, at the same time, reducing their bills. The renewable and solar revolution is here but Origin is clearly threatened by this,” Lindsay Soutar, National Director of 100% Renewable , says.
“To shore up its strategy of expanding investment in gas and fossil fuels, Origin is responding the only way it knows –by leading an industry campaign to undermine renewables in our community.”
“As this report shows, Origin is strangling renewable energy in a number of ways, including running a smear campaign against the renewable energy target, which sets Australia’s goal for the amount of our energy produced by renewables, and using misleading public statements to manipulate the general public and politicians alike,” Ms Soutar says.
“Origin’s Managing Director, Grant King, has repeatedly said the renewable energy target is a primary driver of increased energy costs. But, that is inaccurate, with the main cause of price rises – at over 70% – due to over investment in poles and wires.”
“Origin has also underinvested in its own renewable energy portfolio and is blocking other clean energy developers projects from going forward, using its market power to keep renewables on the sidelines,” Ben Pearson, Head of Program at Greenpeace Australia, says.
The report shows that Origin has invested heavily in gas projects, including developing new LNG projects and gas generating plants, and also generates 75% of its profit through its retail arm – but increasingly these are threatened by the emergence of cheaper, cleaner wind and solar.
“In truth, renewables are working. As this report shows, renewables are reducing energy bills and producing clean energy in an efficient way. Not only that, but wind power is lowering wholesale power prices. And other countries are surpassing us with more ambitious renewable energy goals,” Ms Soutar says.
“What Origin is failing to recognise is that Australians overwhelmingly support renewable energy. Survey after survey finds that 70-80% of families want more renewables, not less. At this time we need to be increasing our ambition, not falling behind.”
“Origin’s short-sighted strategy of investing in dying technology and attempting to strangle new ones may be their plan now, but Origin needs to be careful as they risk consumers walking away as they learn about what they are up to.”
With a review of Australia’s Renewable Energy Target scheduled to occur early next year, 100% Renewable and Greenpeace will be continuing to expose Origin’s efforts to undermine the target and ensure the federal government aims higher in its renewable energy goals.