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The sale of Powershop, which markets itself as a clean energy provider, to fossil fuel goliath Shell has cost the energy retailer 6000 customers, according to the ABC, and a swift fall to 10th place in Greenpeace’s Green Electricity Guide.

The New Zealand based energy provider founded in 2007 had 185,000 customers in Australia before the buyout and claimed top spot in the Green Electricity Guide in 2018. It  and has credentials in the renewable energy space including being Climate Active Certified.

In the latest ranking for green energy released on Tuesday Enova Energy and Diamond Energy are tied in first place, with a perfect 5 star score. Australia’s biggest climate polluter AGL has been ranked last with Origin and Energy Australia also among the worst offenders.

The Green Electricity Guide assesses six main criteria: provision of clean, renewable energy; commitment to end coal use by 2030; halting fossil fuel expansion; support for new renewable energy; transparency in marketing; and pollution and environmental harm.

Powershop’s sudden fall from grace demonstrates the rising consumer concern around the power of money when it comes to the climate crisis. Switching to a clean energy provider is one of the most effective ways that consumers can take action against climate change.

“It’s really clear consumers care increasingly about where electricity comes from,” Greenpeace Australia Pacific senior campaigner Glenn Walker told The Fifth Estate.

“Consumers are looking for clean and green energy. A third of carbon emissions come from the dirty energy grid. Consumers have the power to change that.”

Mr Walker called on consumers to “vote with your wallet” in order to urge Australian energy companies to get serious about climate change through consumer spending.

According to consumer research from IBM, 57 per cent of Australian consumers are willing to change their purchasing habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

“It is unclear what Powershop will look like under the ownership of Shell,” Mr Walker said.

Powershop operates across Australia, New Zealand and the UK, and is currently owned by New Zealand’s Meridian Group, which itself is also partially owned by the New Zealand government. Meridian’s Australian wind and hydro projects are also being bought by Infrastructure Capital Group as part of a consortium deal with Shell.

“Shell has retained a power purchase agreement with Meridian of renewable energy. This indicates that Powershop will retain its renewable energy offering.”

The acquisition shows a diversification of Shell’s portfolio rather than a transition towards renewable energy, judging by media statements made by the company.

It also underpins a move towards Australian households, something which Shell did not offer in the past.

Shell’s representative Elisabeth Brinton said in a statement: “Our aim is to become a leading provider of clean power-as-a-service and this acquisition broadens our customer portfolio in Australia to include households.”

Around 76 per cent of Australia’s electricity currently comes from fossil fuels.

But more companies are stepping in to offer alternatives to the fossil fuel goliaths.

“Clearly there is a race to the top for who will be Australia’s greenest electricity provider. There are now three new companies vying to source electricity from 100 per cent renewable by the end of this year. It is an increasingly competitive space to match increasing demand from consumers. That is a good thing,” Mr Walker told The Fifth Estate.

“But it is a cautionary note for AGL and others that they need to clean up their act fast if they are to retain the business of millions of Australians who want clean energy.”

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