Ecotricity vs Good Energy: the unwinnable fight


April 11, 2016

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Tesla versus Ecotricity versus Good Energy. It is the three-way fight where nobody really wins and is probably not worth the effort.

Billionaire Elon Musk’s electric car and home battery maker Tesla last week found out that the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority had ruled against it in a complaint that it lodged over Ecotricity’s green claims. Tesla went to the ASA to challenge Ecotricity’s claim that it supplied “Britain’s greenest electricity”, but its complaint was rejected on Wednesday when the ASA decided that Ecotricity did indeed produce 100% of electricity from renewables. Case closed.

Until Thursday, that is, when Good Energy reopened the wound by saying it planned to take issue with the ASA’s ruling. Good Energy also produces energy from 100% renewable sources and said that it should in fact be the true holder of the title of ‘Britain’s greenest utility’. Good Energy was set up 15 years ago but said it has the edge over Ecotricity because it has never included any fossil fuels in its mix, unlike its rival.

The only parties not fighting each other are Tesla and Good.

We can see why Ecotricity and Good Energy both want to claim to be Britain’s greenest utility. They have spent time and effort building up both their brands and their portfolios, and they want clarity over who is the greenest. It is a key part of their marketing.

But we also see little sense in them conducting a fight in public. The fact is that people who buy energy from either company are mainly doing so because they want a greener alternative to mainstream utilities, but far fewer would take the extreme position that they want to go with the absolute greenest. Most customers will not care if Ecotricity ever used fossil fuels in its past, simply that it does not now. Both firms should think of those people.

There are a few reasons most people look to go green.

One of these is that they want to know they are supporting the renewable energy sector, and making some small difference to climate change. They also like to think they are buying from a utility that is a bit different and putting the climate first. To those people, therefore, it does not look good that these companies are fighting over technicalities when they should be fighting to save the planet.

In fact, we think this is a way to turn off those who would otherwise be interested in being customers. It puts questions in the public’s mind over both firms’ claims. Is either utility really green? Are they using favourable figures, as Good said Ecotricity is? Who knows?!

It casts doubt over everybody, so nobody really wins.

That is why this is battle is not worth the effort. On one hand, it is good to have firms out there showing that renewable energy is every bit as business-minded as other parts of the sector. But, on the other, this whole fight looks more like it is motivated by profits than the environment. Both firms want to protect brands they have spent time and money building — but spending time and money on a public battle looks like a poor investment.

It would make most sense to resolve this quickly. The title ‘Britain’s greenest utility’ may look good on marketing, but it is not worth a load of negative publicity during the battle to gain it. And besides, nobody believes claims like that on adverts anyway, do they?

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