Bringing renewable energy to congregations

Uniting Energy is currently a trading name of the Sydney and Central Coast Presbytery. It was set up to support a Pilot to provide GreenPower electricity to a small number of church properties in the SCCP area. Following a tender process, Uniting Energy’s IT function (essential for billing, in particular) was awarded to Energy Management Services (EMS), a Newcastle-based company, using their e21 system.

The energy retailer Powershop was selected – again by tender – to supply the GreenPower electricity. An important function of Uniting Energy is to go back to the market every 12-24 months to ensure that Uniting Energy customers (congregations) pay as low a price for their GreenPower electricity as possible. The electricity purchased will always be 100% renewable, though schemes other than GreenPower may be considered in the future. Uniting Energy will not be purchasing electricity that is solely ‘carbon offset’.

The Uniting Energy team acknowledge that GreenPower is not, by itself, the very best contribution that a congregation can make to greening its electricity consumption. Those congregations that can install solar panels are encouraged to do so, and Uniting Energy can provide useful advice on that topic (see Solar). However few if any congregations are likely to put solar panels on every property (including manses and leased properties). And even where solar panels are in place, cloud and nightfall will mean that grid electricity is used to some degree, so GreenPower will tend to be the default option.

Uniting Energy’s role with GreenPower is to provide congregations with a path to renewable energy that is at a very similar price to their current electricity supply and is quick and easy to switch to.

Future activities for Uniting Energy are likely to include extending services in relation to solar installation (such as keeping a register of recommended installers) and providing leadership to church members in congregations, for example through publicising GreenPower in association with a particular energy retailer (affinity marketing, in the jargon). The Australian transition to renewable electricity is a journey that will take some years, and schemes, offers and suppliers will change over that period. Uniting Energy will allow the Uniting Church in NSW & the ACT to do its part to protect God’s creation, wherever this journey takes us.

Read more about the GreenPower initiative here

The Team

  • Brett Wagland is particularly interested in solar installation & energy saving options. As part of a team, he has specified and monitored the large solar installation at Willoughby Uniting for the last 8 years.
  • David Moser has a professional background in IT and business processes and has focussed on the organisation of Uniting Energy and the regulatory aspects of the business. He attends Balgowlah Uniting.
  • Geoffrey Leslie manages billing and finance for Uniting Energy. Geoff is a Chartered Accountant and Business Manager for Sydney & Central Coast Presbytery and is a member of the Turramurra congregation.
  • Lloyd Robinson is an entrepreneur with interests that include energy-efficient commercial property. He has worked with the Synod Emissions Reduction Taskforce across property, vehicle and flight policies. Lloyd chairs the Church Council at Gordon Uniting.
  • Max Blacker is a retired civil engineer and currently Treasurer of Northern Beaches Uniting Church, responsible for 10 properties. Max is currently working on communications and marketing, in addition to finance, for Uniting Energy.