Wind turbine leaflet broke advertising rulesNpower carbon claims inaccurate, says ASA

10 October 2007

 

A racing wind turbine.

An Npower newsletter promoting wind power broke advertising rules because its carbon offset claim was inaccurate, a watchdog ruled today.

A direct mailing from the energy giant claimed its wind power scheme would help prevent the release of 33,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas contributing to climate change, from fossil fuels.

But a campaign group complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that the carbon dioxide figure was out of date because currently gas not coal was the fuel being replaced by wind power.

The ASA found Npower's newsletter broke rules relating to truthfulness, environmental claims and substantiation.

National Grid

It said the energy giant's calculations were based on National Grid figures that are ‘no longer representative'.

‘We therefore concluded that the carbon offset claim was inaccurate and likely to mislead,’ the watchdog said.

The watchdog told Npower to make sure any future carbon savings claims were based on a ‘more representative and rigorous’ carbon emissions factor.

Responding to the ASA, Npower said its calculation used a carbon emissions saving figure for wind power-generated electricity which was recommended by the British Wind Energy Association.

Carbon dioxide

The energy giant used National Grid information to work out how wind power would offset carbon dioxide by displacing coal and oil-fired electricity generation, it said.

Npower told the ASA it believed there had been no change since the National Grid's information was published in the way that wind power could offset carbon dioxide by displacing coal and oil-fired electricity generation.

In a separate ruling the ASA has criticised a TV commercial for a personal loan because it made light of borrowing large sums of money.

Financial services

It ruled the ad for Picture Financial Services, which showed a woman in her kitchen arranging a loan over the phone while being interrupted by her family, should not be shown again in its current form.

Six viewers complained the advert was misleading because it portrayed borrowing large amounts of money as an everyday event that could be treated lightly.

The ASA upheld the complaints. It said: ‘We consider the light-hearted tone of the ad, including interruptions from family members, suggested that the decision to take out a loan had not been carefully considered and that it was an everyday occurrence. We concluded that the ad was likely to mislead.’

Picture Financial Services told the ASA it did not consider credit agreements as something to be entered into lightly and did not want to suggest that in its advertising.

The commercial was designed to show in a light-hearted way the busy lifestyles and conflicting demands faced by customers daily which made it difficult for them to sort out things like finance, the firm said.