I finally got around to measuring the power consumption in the office. Now I wouldn’t say we were big energy consumers with a small office of 11 staff with about 250sqm of office space. So after a few power bills I was finally able to work out what our energy consumption was and to shop around for 100% green power in Sydney.
First thing to note that it is worth finding out what a kilowatt (kWh) is and how much you pay for it. Now this is where it gets interesting. Some energy plans have you on a flat rate per kWh while other plans charge different rates for different times of the day. This is where terms such as peak, shoulder and off peak come to appear on your bill. These rates can vary from 5.1c to 25.1c per kWh so it pays to check out your plan. Luckily we are just on a flat rate so there are no real complex formulas for my spreadsheet. Also to give you an idea they say the average small office of around 10 to 12 people would consume about 25,000 kWh per year.
After 10 minutes of going through the last three bills and putting the details on a very basic spreadsheet I can work out that our monthly average was 1,799 kWh which annually works out to be 21,598 kWh. So armed with this information I decided to shop about for the best 100% green power for the office. I remember a conversation I had a few weeks ago with Nic from the Total Environment Centre
telling me to check out this site www.greenelectricitywatch.org.au
here you will get useful information including an independent ranking of green energy providers. It really is worth spending a few minutes on this site checking this out before you make your decision.
After checking the rankings I decided to stay with our current provider and switch to the 100% green power option. The additional cost was an extra 5.5c per kWh so my spreadsheet began to grow a few more lines and now looks something like this:
Monthly kWh: 1,799
100% Green Option: = 1,799 X 5.5c
Monthly Extra Costs: $107.86
Annual Cost: $1,294.28 (21,598 kWh a year)
Ok so far so good, happy to pay that in the company budget and would like to drive down energy consumption a bit more.
Now I come to the next part and this is very interesting. From my energy bill I can see how much green house gasses are produced by our energy. So from when we moved into the office last April to Mid December we have used a total of 16,192 kWh causing a total of 1.7163 tonnes of CO2. So averaging this out for 12 months the current estimate would be 2.28 tonnes of C02.
What I am getting my head around is that for an extra $1,294.00 per year we have the privilege of becoming a 100% green power office and thereby offsetting 2.28 tonnes of CO2.
Now this is where I have a slight problem. Doing the simple math of $1,294.00 (being the extra cost of 100% green power) divided by 2.28 (being the tones of Co2)
Gives you a figure of $567.54 per ton of CO2!
Surely I am missing something here? I checked what a tonne of CO2 costs to offset and checked out Climate Friendly
(who just also happen to be rated number 1 in the recent Carbon Offset Watch
) and the cost was $28.60 per tonne.
So if my calculations are right then we really have two options.
1) Stay with 100% green power and pay an extra $1,294.00 per year to offset 2.28 tonnes of CO2.
2) Use the $1,294.00 and offset 45.25 tonnes of CO2
Maybe I have done the sums wrong or maybe I should really consider that purchasing green power sends a clear signal to the energy providers that there is the demand and helps build the business case for more renewable energy? But to me it does seem like a high premium to pay.
I have asked this question to a number of people and welcome your comments on this.
Please don’t misinterpret this information I am all for 100% renewable energy but are we getting the best bang for our CO2 buck when it comes to green power?