The Advertising Standards Agency has ruled that energy supplier Good Energy made misleading claims about its supply of green energy, but Good Energy is standing by its claims.
The ASA has ruled that Good Energy can no longer use one of its print adverts, which it deems to be ‘misleading’. The advert in question was a magazine insert that included the words: ‘…all the energy we supply on behalf of domestic customers is certified 100% renewable’.
The ASA said the advert may be interpreted as suggesting that Good Energy supplies renewable energy directly to consumers – i.e. that the actual electricity that flows from customers’ plug sockets has come directly from a renewable source.
Green energy tariffs
The way Good Energy actually supplies its energy is (like all energy suppliers) through the National Grid. As Good Energy CEO Juliet Davenport explains: ‘For every unit of electricity our customers use over the course of a year we supply the National Grid with an equivalent unit from a 100% renewable source. This is independently certified by the Green Energy Tariff Certification Scheme.’
This means that while the actual electricity used by Good Energy customers in their homes comes from a variety of sources powering the National Grid – including non-renewable fossil fuels such as coal – by signing up to a Good Energy tariff they still ensure the amount of electricity they use is matched by the same amount of renewable energy entering the National Grid.
Find out more about renewable energy in our guide to green energy, or see which green tariffs are available in your area and how much they cost, using the Which? Switch energy calculator.
Supplying renewable electricity
Good Energy said it takes great care not to mislead customers and believes that customers understand the difference between physical and commercial delivery.
It doesn’t actually make a difference where the electricity that comes out of your plug socket has come from in terms of how you use it – whatever the source, it will boil your kettle in exactly the same way.
However the ASA decided that the overall impression of the advert in question ‘was such that it was likely to be interpreted as suggesting Good Energy supplied 100% renewable energy directly to consumers’.
ASA made ‘mistake’
Following the ruling, Davenport said: ‘We are very disappointed with the decision by the Advertising Standards Authority, and think they made a mistake.
‘In particular we are surprised that the ASA decided to act just on one single complaint, and we are concerned that the ASA may be used as a tool by parties trying to discredit renewable energy.’
New ASA powers
On 1 March 2010, the ASA was given new powers to police claims that companies make on websites and social media sites, to ensure they do not harm, mislead or offend. This includes all statements on websites that can be interpreted as marketing, even if they are not contained in an advert.
Lower your gas and electricity bills
You can compare energy prices and switch to a new gas and electricity supplier on Which? Switch. People who switched with us between 1 October and 31 December 2013 are predicted to save an average of £234 a year on their bills.
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