As part of court enforceable undertakings Global Green Plan Ltd will purchase more than 4000 renewable energy certificates which it failed to buy on behalf of customers in 2007 and 2008.
From 2006 to 2008 Global Green Plan operated GreenSwitch, a retailer of GreenPower under the government's national GreenPower accreditation program.
The program is designed to give commercial and residential power users the opportunity to offset their carbon emissions by paying extra for power generated from renewable sources such as wind farms and hydro electricity plants.
Under the GreenPower program, retailers such as GreenSwitch accept payments from their customers and undertake to purchase renewable energy certificates on their behalf. One certificate represents the additional cost of generating one megawatt hour of renewable energy as compared with traditional energy which is generated using fossil fuels.
Whilst operating GreenSwitch, Global Green Plan accepted payments from customers on the proviso that the money would be used to purchase certificates. However, not all of the money provided to Global Green Plan by customers was used to purchase the certificates as had been promised.
GreenSwitch was officially deregistered from the GreenPower Program in 2008 as a result of its failure to purchase the certificates but Global Green Plan continued to accept payment from customers via the GreenSwitch website for two months after being deregistered.
"The ACCC investigated the GreenSwitch activities and found the numbers didn't match up. To take money from customers and not use it as it was intended is simply unacceptable," ACCC acting chairman Michael Schaper said.
Global Green Plan has acknowledged its conduct is likely to have breached the Trade Practices Act 1974 and provided undertakings to the ACCC.
In addition to Global Green Plan purchasing the certificates, the company's directors, Donald and Henry Hewett will write to GreenSwitch customers explaining the situation and will undertake training in complying with the Act.
"The nature of some services means consumers make decisions based on promises made," Dr Schaper said.
"A company cannot take advantage of this situation by failing its responsibilities, it must deliver as promised."
"Global Green Plan's purchase of the outstanding certificates will ensure its customers' money will go towards the intended objective – supporting renewable energy," Dr Schaper said.
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