By Nichola Davies, photography Kristian Gehradte
As Australian consumers become more climate-conscious, they’ll no doubt be looking to energy retailers that reflect their values. Powershop is Australia’s greenest energy retailer, owned by New Zealand generation company Meridian Energy. We get to know all about the business and its Australia CEO Jason Stein.
Growing up on a surf beach in New Zealand, Jason Stein’s passionate about working for a company that’s focused on doing right by the environment.
Jason has been with Meridian in New Zealand for the last 12 years, with experience including being involved with listing Meridian on the NZX and the ASX. Having some experience in Australia through Meridian’s purchase of wind farms in Australia, Jason says when the role as Australia CEO came up a few months ago he jumped at the chance.
“I wanted to help Meridian, and their retail arm Powershop, grow and invest more into renewable energy generation in Australia,” Jason says.
Powershop services more than 160,000 customers in Victoria, New South Wales, South-East Queensland and South Australia with the main focus of giving Australians a choice of energy provider that is environmentally friendly.
Powershop and Meridian invest in 100 per cent renewable energy and Jason says the company has a strong focus on customer service, with customer relations being increasingly important since the establishment of the Energy Charter and the election of the Morrison Government.
Meridian Energy Australia has been certified carbon neutral against the requirements of the National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS) by the Australian Government. Meridian Energy Australia, Powershop, and all of their operations are certified carbon offset under the NCOS benchmark. But importantly for consumers, the NCOS accreditation applies to the electricity sold as well.
“Meridian Energy Australia is focused on the generation of renewable energy through our windfarms and hydro power stations,” Jason says.
“As we grow the Powershop customer base and therefore have more money to invest back into renewable energy, it’s Meridian Energy Australia that is buying and managing those renewable energy assets.
“The businesses are intrinsically linked to create a better, cleaner energy future that Australians deserve.”
An average day for the CEO begins with an early start checking emails and answering anything that’s urgent.
“I like to get to the gym and get into work by about 8am so at the moment I’m saying good morning to people and getting to know the team,” Jason says.
“Once my family join me over here I am sure I will settle into the usual hectic family morning regime.”
Jason says at this point in his life, he’s really focused on his family and doing things with his kids, and when he was in New Zealand, he said he worked as an “unpaid uber driver on the weekends” ferrying kids to sports, many of which he coached. He expects that to continue when the family cross the ditch.
“I like to think I could still play a season of Rugby and that I’ll do it again one day, although my wife disagrees. I’m also a fan of 80’s music and am reading a lot about WW2 at the moment.”
Back to the office, Jason is often in back-to-back meetings for most of the day–a mixture of one-on-ones with direct reports and getting up to speed on the details of the business,” Jason says.
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“Importantly, I’m enjoying getting to know the 65 people that are in the Melbourne head office, getting to know our customer service teams, the customers they service and the teams who run our wind farms and hydro stations.”
Powershop has big growth aspirations aiming to make a real difference for Australian energy consumers through investing more in renewable generation and giving customers a choice to buy from a company that aligns with their beliefs, or as Jason says, “one they can be proud of”. As he sees it, the more they grow their customer base, the greater potential there is to further invest in renewable energy generation in Australia.
For Australia’s energy industry, he says we need to find a balance between improving the stability of the energy system and helping make energy affordable.
“This will come with a mix of policy stability and more importance being placed on greener energy solutions,” Jason says.
“Meridian Energy Australia and Powershop are committed to continuing to invest in 100 per cent renewable generation, which will add more renewable energy to the energy supply mix in Australia.
“This continued investment will over time, help decrease energy costs for Australian households, which is something we want to see happen.”
As well as its focus on carbon-neutrality, which Jason says “is just the beginning”, the company has a program called ‘Your Community Energy’, which is a way for customers to help support environmental projects around Australia.
Customers who choose to support this initiative are charged a small premium when they purchase their electricity, which is pooled and distributed as grants to projects that have a positive environmental impact.
To date, Powershop customers have raised more than half a million dollars and have supported 33 projects across the country.
“Our most recent Your Community Energy Project has provided the Reef Restoration Foundation (RRF) with a $60,000 grant to build an underwater coral nursery,” Jason says.
“The Powershop Coral Nursery will grow and restore coral on the Great Barrier Reef.
“I’m really proud to report that corals from our nursery are already being ‘out planted’ to the Great Barrier Reef and we’re expecting to grow around 600 corals in total by June this year.”