Energy suppliers publish where they get their watts

Power companies are now obliged to publish a breakdown of their energy supply, listing how much comes from nuclear, coal, gas, renewable and other sources.

For the first time companies will have to show their list of ‘ingredients’ when they send customers the bill, as well as the quantity of radioactive waste produced and emissions of CO2.

In most cases it will still be up to the customer to check how their supplier rates against the competition, as there is no obligation to publish comparisons with other companies.

The Fuel Mix Disclosure is now a requirement under EU legislation and is part of wider regulations to make environmental information more readily available to the public and encourage industry to work towards cutting emissions.

Electricity suppliers must give their customers a breakdown of the fuels they’ve used to generate the electricity they provide, as well as the CO2 emissions and radioactive waste produced.

Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks said: “To help tackle global warming at an individual level consumers need to make informed choices, and fuel disclosure is a key ingredient in helping people to do that.

“With a target of 10 per cent of electricity generation from renewables by 2010, and an aspiration to get it to 20 per cent by 2020, the disclosure rule is an asset to both domestic and business customers.

“Liberalised electricity markets give consumers a choice of supplier based on cost. From today, that choice will also be based on how the electricity was generated and the impact that has on the environment, so giving consumers even more choice in where their money goes.

“If you’re concerned about global warming and CO2 emissions, take a closer look at your next bill, it could make all the difference.”

While there is some question over how effective the move will be, as suppliers have been offering ‘green’ tariffs for many years, the disclosure has been welcomed by environmental campaigners.

“Some people may be surprised at exactly where their electricity is coming from and hopefully this will raise a few eyebrows,” Lang Banks, a spokesman for Friends of the Earth, told edie.

“It’s the type of information that would be very useful to consumers and indeed other companies.

“We’d like to think there will be a rush to improve the environmental credentials of your company through your fuel mix.

“The information is only useful if you have something to compare it against but there are people who are already starting to aggregate the information for the consumer such as the Green Energy Market.

“The most revealing aspect from our point of view is the proportion being made up of nuclear power and the waste that is produced.

“As the debate widens on whether we should be using more or less that information is going to become even more useful.”

By Sam Bond

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie