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This is not advice. Items herein are general comments only and do not constitute or convey advice per se. The information contained in these articles is for guidance only and should not be relied upon without obtaining professional advice having regard to your direct circumstances.

 

The power of green

Green energy retailer, Jackgreen, is giving the major energy companies a run for their money in attracting consumers with its green power offerings.

With a customer base now nudging 60,000, the specialist green energy retailer, Jackgreen, has become one of the most visible – and most rapidly growing – suppliers of green power to the household market.

It is licensed by the NSW, ACT, Victorian, Queensland and SA governments to retail electricity. But despite the pollution caused by coal powered, it takes persistence and determination to convert people in the community to sustainable “green” power and in Australia today less than 10 per cent of energy derives from sustainable sources.

“Our mission is to attract customers who make an emotional connection with the environment and finding them can be difficult,” said Managing Director, Andrew Randall, who founded Jackgreen in 2004.

“At first we used door-to-door sales; direct selling was dominant at the start. We also ran TV adverts but the take up was not high, it was not the best means of securing customers. ROI was poor.”

In recent years, the Jackgreen team has been working more closely with the community to establish brand presence and cultivate momentum. The efforts are paying dividends, with Jackgreen customers swelling from 15,000 in December 2005 to 50,000 in February and now tallying around 60,000.

Randall’s background was not originally in the environmental field; he was previously a Vice President of Citibank but left to set up Obelisk Capital in the early ‘90s with a focus on technology underpinning alternative energy, and waste around Asia Pacific.

With his team at Obelisk Capital including Andrew Woodward (who is now Jackgreen Finance Director), he began researching the green power market in 2003. “I saw that changes had to be made and there was an opportunity in the field of energy. We research 3000 homes and 95 per cent said they wanted to do the right thing by the environment but if that meant a cost increase that went down to single digit figures.

“When we started the business most of the retailers were not making it easy enough for customers to go onto green energy,” Randall said. “So we looked at options. Our mindset was – and is – to make a difference.”

In 2004 Randall backdoor listed the Jackgreen business on the ASX, raising $7 million to finance growth of the business. “Our vision is twofold: we want to eliminate hurdles, and provide green power options to make it easier to be green. That is the biggest change households can make. Secondly, we want to provide as many green products as possible and the key to this is our activities through climate change company, Easy Being Green, with its abatement program.”

Touted as “taking on the electricity giants and beating them at their own game”, Jackgreen was voted by Choice Magazine as the no. 1 provider of green energy power. Energy retailers are middlemen between the National Electricity Management Company (NEMMCO) which administers the electricity pool and customers.

The power pool is fed primarily from coal and other fossil fuel burning plants and is also supplied by natural/renewable energy that emits no greenhouse gas: generated from the sun (solar panels or “photovoltaic”, known as PV); water (hydro electricity), and wind (wind turbines). Jackgreen recorded around $45 million in sales in the past year.

“People signing up with us can opt for 10 per cent green energy which is at no extra cost. That takes the pain away. We were the first to come up with this product. From there it is a journey. People should convert to 100 per cent green power if they can afford it,” Randall remarked. “The other providers charge a much higher premium, some as high as $9 per week. The advice I would give customers is firstly go with Jackgreen which is $.40 for 100 per cent GreenPower – and to skip one cup of coffee a week.”

Easy Being Green

In keeping with the aim of being a leading producer of carbon credits and key source for carbon offsets and environmental knowledge, Jackgreen recently acquired climate change company Easy Being Green which has distributed energy efficient light globes for free to more than 500,000 homes.

“Easy Being Green provided the globes, which create carbon credits”, Randall explained. “And we sell carbon credits through the scheme. We saw it as a great opportunity to make a significant difference. And each CFL [compact fluorescent light globe] saves between $15 and $30 a year in electricity.”

The group is launching more environmentally-friendly products to progress the green revolution and provide a complete home solution. “Through Easy Being Green we want our customers to be happier and for us to have a long term relationship with them. We aim to be a good site for green solutions, where we can provide customers with advice on ways to reduce their carbon footprint and save money in the process,” Randall said.

Many of Jackgreen’s staff of 80 involve themselves in the company’s community programs. “We sponsor lots of tradeshows and are actively involved in community affairs, for example the Salvation Army’s Oasis program, and in Victoria we are part of the Carbon Sink projet, ie a fundraising program that allows schools to invest in sustainability. It’s a great initiative; we have about 50 schools that participate under the Sustainable Victoria umbrella involved in our fundraising program.”

Supporting initiatives such as Planet Ark’s Tree Day National Recycling Week and Channel Ten’s “CoolAid – the National Carbon Test” and “The Carbon Diet” calculator boosts Jackgreen’s exposure.

Working with partners such as Bunnings, Phillips and Hills, Jackgreen distributed leaflets outlining steps individuals can take to combat climate change: switching to Greenpower and reducing electricity consumption through energy saving devices such as compact fluorescent light globes and solar heaters.

“We need more Tim Flannerys to wake everyone up. But change is happening at a great pace now.  Australia needs to be a leader. Yes, there may be some cost elements, but carbon credits and climate change are garnering a new future”.

“Under the Easy Being Green umbrella, Jackgreen’s next major initiative is solar hot water, which makes economic sense. With rebates we can almost give away systems. PV solar panels and insulation will follow. By using solar (rather than electric) powered hot water, households can save up to $700 a year off their energy bill. Hot water contributes to up to 40 per cent of energy bills,” Randall said.

“Australia has an abundance of sunshine; it’s ridiculous we don’t make better use of it. We need to change and it is easy to change – towards new, renewable resources. But it’s one step at a time.”

By Nicole Card
My Business, September 2008

 


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