ASA’s ruling on Npower’s Wembley ad questions all green electricity packages
The Advertising Standards Authority today upheld a complaint about an Npower advert. The ad claimed that Npower, Wembley’s electricity supplier, “powers the arch and stadium with renewable energy”. This was considered confusing by the watchdog because what Npower (and every other supplier with a green product) really does is ‘match’ the stadium’s electricity with renewable power supplied to the grid. As Wembley is connected to the grid, it is impossible to control the source of the energy that the stadium actually uses.
RWE Npower must have been surprised by the ruling, because it has been supplying retail customers on Juice, its green electricity package, on exactly this basis for six years.
The reason that many green electricity products, including Juice, are confusing is not that they match energy through the grid, but that they do not lead to any additional investment in renewables. Npower already purchases sufficient renewable electricity under its Renewables Obligation to match the electricity used by Wembley.
The ASA’s decision questions the concept of matching different types of generator with end users and pricing their energy accordingly. And – short of a huge expansion in local generation – suppliers do not have any other option for harnessing consumer demand for green electricity.