A war is ongoing between Britain's leading 'Green' electricity suppliers, with Ecotricity especially keen to slag Good Energy off at every opportunity. But why?
Let's back up and examine what it means to try to buy green or greener electricity. Hopefully it means buying electricity only or overwhelmingly from sustainable, ideally renewable sources, like wind/wave/solar power. Ideally it means that nobody has been exploited to generate the power (suppliers treated fairly by the distributor / power companies).
Most (maybe all?) conventional electricity providers in the UK offer some kind of 'Green' tariff. Where some or even all of your electricity comes from renewable sources. For this you pay a somewhat increased rate, and the Lekki provider promises to buy as many units as you consume from renewable sources.
Which sounds great, except that they are provided to buy so much percentage of electricity by law, anyway. So getting onto a Green Electricity Tariff doesn't really encourage the development of renewables, it just helps the company fulfill its legal obligations.
So next step up (in the ethically pure-minded ladder) is to buy electricity from a dedicated provider, which is how we get to the slanging match between the UK's leading 'Green' Electricity suppliers: Good Energy and Ecotricity. Good Energy promises that all the energy it provides comes from renewable sources, wind/solar and waves. It has never been an important part of Good Energy's business model to invest directly in new generation schemes, BUT they would argue, they do encourage a climate of investment by paying a premium rate to producers. Otherwise, they operate almost purely as distributors. This is one of Ecotricity's chief criticisms, that Good Energy is only in it for profit. Good Energy would counter that they do many things to encourage small scale generation, and that they own and are renovating their own production site: the Delabole Windfarm in North Cornwall. In contrast, Ecotricity operates much more like a conventional electricity company, but with a huge emphasis on and commitment to investment in new sources of renewable electricity that can be measured in many MW rather than kW. Ecotricity include nuclear power and fossil fuels as part of their sources, however, which they see as a subsidy to their investment plans. It is fair to say that Ecotricity really does do what they say; they are investing in wind farms and similar technologies as fast and as much as anyone could reasonably expect them to.
At the end of the day, it's a very competitive industry. The scramble for customers is not just for the Ethically-minded consumers, but for everybody's custom. Although the bigger and better the lies and insinuations about how the other guys operate, the more likely the public is to just throw up their hands in despair and stick with what they know.
Here's a sample of Ecotricty's public attacks on Good Energy:
My guess is that Ecotricity -- especially its spokesman, Dale Vince -- is so strident in its criticisms of Good Energy because they are sick of encountering the same arguments again and again. So why do Ecotricity use fossil fuel sources? Because it's the only way to get from where the UK energy supply situation is now to get to where Ecotricity wants to be, by springboarding on the back of the present reality of where UK electricity needs to come from. Ecotricity is trying to take a long view, whereas Good Energy is simply meeting customer demand (which may be too short-sighted).
There's no absolute moral high ground here. The UK Green Party is not endorsing any particular company and neither would I. Ecotricity is probably a greener choice for its long term aims, but its public jibes at Good Energy are annoying to say the very least.
Good Energy is not attacking Ecotricity nearly as often, so in my mind, Good Energy gets Brownie points simply for being either less obvious in its commercial rivalry or maybe even actually rising above the fray by keeping quieter. Because fundamentally, we consumers don't want to hear Ecotricity slagging off the other guys, we want to hear what Ecotricity has to offer in and of itself.