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New app lets Kiwis check their carbon footprint

02 Mar 2016

Kiwis can now check the carbon impact of the electricity they use via a new app from Flick Electric.

Choice! provides users with information about the carbon impact of their electricity use in real time, free of charge.

Flick CEO Steve O’Connor says the majority of people are disengaged with their energy purchase.

“When people flick the switch they don’t know where it came from, or how it got there, or what it really costs,” he says. “Choice! gives people the chance to engage and really understand the dynamics of the electricity production and consumption in New Zealand for the first time,” he says.

Through the use of live generation and price data, and alerts, the app encourages people to use electricity when there is less carbon impact, and cut back their use when non-renewables are high.

“Because we have 80% or so renewable generation in New Zealand some people think we can use as much as we like,” O’Connor says.

“But the non-renewables we use have a huge carbon impact, and we need to be really mindful of that. It’s confronting when you get an alert that tells you there are more than 500 tonnes per hour of CO2 equivalent being emitted from our electricity production,” he explains.

O’Connor says the app will also debunk some myths about ‘green’ electrons.

“Many people think that because they are with a power company that invests in renewable generation that they use ‘green electrons’ at home,” he says.

“But we all get our electricity from the same system, so if you want to make a good environmental choice the best thing you can do is switch off when there is heavy demand that is causing fossil fuels to run.”

Flick customers – who pay the half-hour spot price of generation - can see the interplay between the generation mix and their price.

"For example, when there’s plenty of wind running, because it can’t be stored, prices tend to be lower; and when supply is constrained and the generators need to turn on the diesel peakers, prices tend to be higher,” O’Connor says.

“Our model is one of the few examples where customers can make a choice that is better for the environment, and it can cost them less,” explains O’Connor.

“We think this is really disruptive for the conscious consumption movement – to be able to say to people, you can do well financially by doing good for the planet,” he says.

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