Power to make a difference
Working with our customers to take action
From Renewable Energy Certificates to solar and electric cars, there’s a growing energy for change and a real sense of momentum in our work with customers.
Our customers are wanting to be proactive, show their support for renewable energy, take climate action in their own lives, and we’ve been working on ways we can do that together. Some of these actions increase electricity demand, some of them increase the amount of renewable energy on the gird, and all of them create closer, long-term relationships with our customers, creating value for them and for Meridian and Powershop in Australia.
Pouring our energy into great beer
Energy is a vital ingredient in beer, so we were thrilled when Wellington craft brewer Garage Project chose to partner with us in the production of a special brew.
The Turbine Pale Ale partnership is a collaboration between Meridian and Garage Project. Our collaboration marks the first time that a certified-renewable-energy product has been made available in Aotearoa. While Garage Project’s brewery isn’t directly plugged in to the nearby Brooklyn wind turbine, the electricity it uses is matched on an annual basis with 100% renewable energy generated from that asset.
It means it can go to market with a beautiful brew that has been sustainably produced and truly celebrates the benefits of being in Wellington, the windiest capital city in the world.
Certified love for renewables
The Australian electricity market has a formal green electricity product scheme. In addition to offering green power, Powershop Australia offers electricity and gas products that are certified carbon neutral according to the Climate Active Carbon Neutral Program (a scheme run by the Australian Government). However, in New Zealand there is no regulatory framework to enable us to offer similar products to our customers.
Off the back of the successful Garage Project partnership, Meridian launched its Certified Renewable Energy product earlier this year - helping New Zealand businesses to market themselves as supporters of renewable energy and to certify their electricity use as renewable, supported by the New Zealand Energy Certificate System.
Certificates are issued by the New Zealand Energy Certificate System and enable Meridian business customers to match their consumption to an equivalent amount of our renewable energy generation. Meridian Certified Renewable Energy enables businesses to report their Scope 2 electricity emissions as zero using the market-based methodology of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Scope 2 Standard.
Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, HelloFresh and Pernod Ricard Winemakers are among the first to adopt our Certified Renewable Energy product.
We need to electrify transport
From both ethical and operational points of view, we’re motivated to support a greater electrification of our transport system. In FY20 we expressed strong support for the Government’s proposal to introduce standards and discounts incentivising cleaner vehicles in New Zealand. Transport is New Zealand’s second-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, contributing nearly 20% of gross emissions. The electrification of the light-vehicle fleet is therefore one of Aotearoa’s best opportunities for reducing emissions and combating climate change.
Having more electric cars on our roads will be much better for our environment, and of course it will also increase demand for electricity. The Electric Car Plan we’ve introduced is about securing our position as a leader in sustainability and the first choice for customers who have electric cars. In partnership with EECA (the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority) and a range of businesses, we've been rolling out electric car charging infrastructure around New Zealand, including in parts of the country where there was previously no public charging available.
As well as supporting our customers, we’ve been working hard on converting our own fleet of cars and utility vehicles. We are targeting 90% of our passenger vehicle fleet to be electric and we reached 76.5% as of 30 June 2020. We've also committed to 100% electric vehicles of all types by the end of calendar-year 2025 as a signatory to the EV100 commitment. This is putting pressure on us to sort out the utility and commercial vehicles we own, however with new models now being released, 20% of our utility vehicles are now electric and we're confident we'll meet this ambitious goal.
Solar continues to be vital in Australia
Installing solar panels is an important climate- and bill-reduction action that we encourage Australian households to take. Through Powershop Australia we’ve introduced a range of initiatives to help reduce demand on the electricity grid and help customers save on their energy bills.
These initiatives include:
- ‘Grid Impact’, where Reposit customers are guaranteed GridCredits® – payments for letting Powershop activate their solar batteries at certain times;
- ‘ChargeForce’, which is offered to customers who opt in to Grid Impact. ChargeForce is a virtual power plant where Powershop uses the energy stored in a customer’s battery to help support the electricity grid when it’s under pressure, and pays the customer a credit for doing so;
- ‘Curb Your Power’, a demand response programme in which Victorian customers curb their power usage at certain peak demand times to help reduce demand on the grid; and
- ‘Better Solar’, a solar advisory service that helps customers to install solar systems at their properties.
- Powershop Australia’s Your Community Energy has now raised over $560,000. The programme works where customers choose the Your Community Energy Powerpack when they pay their bills - this has a premium attached to it. Powershop then uses the premium to support positive environmental initiatives. Most recently, Powershop customers helped contribute over $100,000 to the Reef Restoration Foundation to build two coral nurseries that grow bleach resistant coral to restore the Great Barrier Reef.
In addition, Powershop Australia provides customers with data and insights so they can use their solar power efficiently.
The sun comes out at Lincoln
In New Zealand, Lincoln University has become the first New Zealand university to adopt commercial-scale solar energy as part of its plans to eliminate the use of coal by 2025. The University has partnered with us to install a 102-kilowatt-hour solar array, the largest to be installed at a New Zealand university.
Half the University’s energy needs are currently met by an on-site coal boiler. The solar array will supply renewable energy directly to the University’s network, which will displace some of its coal use. Meridian is planning additional arrays as part of Lincoln’s $8 million investment in renewable energy. As part of our power purchase agreement, we’re covering all the work and costs associated with installation, operation and maintenance.
Lincoln University is one of a growing number of organisations that are signing up for commercial solar power purchase agreements. The groundswell of interest in commercial solar shows companies are excited about the technology, and we’re looking forward to it playing a much bigger role in our renewable generation mix.