By Brian Collett — A green Australian electricity company has given customers the option of paying slightly higher rates to finance community solar projects.
Powershop, which supports solar and wind installations across Australia, places providers on its website and asks customers to choose lower prices or environmental benefits and even invites them to sponsor causes.
One project, which it calls Your Community Energy, allows customers to pay a little more to back micro-hydro, small-scale solar or small wind power enterprises.
The company now funds seven green installations in New South Wales and Victoria, including the Ceres sustainability centre in the Melbourne suburb East Brunswick, which has now almost reached its zero-emissions goal.
On its eleven-acre site Ceres runs environmental education programmes and a green technology unit and hosts urban agriculture schemes.
Other funded organisations use energy savings to support social programmes.
Powershop was founded in New Zealand ten years ago and has since opened up in Australia and Britain.
Australia is a particular challenge for Powershop. The International Energy Agency, a Paris-based group that promotes clean energy and has 29 countries as members, predicts that Australia will gradually increase coal consumption for the next 20 years.