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Colin & Julie Crawford-Smith: ACF supporters, Colin and Julie, look back on the campaign to make GreenPower a genuine option for energy consumers.


MANY OF TODAY'S environmentally aware citizens know about and have signed up to GreenPower, an energy scheme that allows users to purchase electricity from renewable sources such as solar, wind, small hydro and bio-energy. But far fewer understand the sustained campaigning that created this consumer utility plan.

In 1995, Colin Crawford-Smith decided to act on his green living philosophies and put renewable energy on the map. With his then business partner Mark Ellis, Colin approached six of the seven previously canvassed energy providers with a view to developing green power schemes.

The NSW Sustainable Energy Development Authority (then SEDA) became interested and Colin and Mark designed the accreditation rules for the National GreenPower Program. SEDA then latmched the National GreenPower Accreditation Program in 1997. Today GreenPower is a major success and is available from all electricity retailers and some independent suppliers across Australia.

According to the NSW Department of Energy Utilities and Sustainability, as at April 2006, more than 250,000 residential and business customers in Australia were purchasing government-accredited GreenPower--that's an increase of 45 per cent over the previous 12 months.

Colin Crawford-Smith and his partner Julie feel an enormous sense of satisfaction at the outcome of all that hard work. Committed greenies, Colin and Julie were both members of the Wilderness Society before joining ACF in 1986.


As with many conservation-minded Australians, Colin and Julie's beliefs were galvanized during the battle for the Franklin River in the 1980s.

Colin remembers: "In 1981, Julie remembers as a young 20-year-old being totally fascinated by the Franklin River issue. She can still to this day literally remember the feeling--the strong pull to find out more about the wild river they were talking about. Some months later, a friend I had made through nursing lost her fiance on the Franklin and she became passionate about saving the river he loved so much and I joined her. The Franklin River campaign was life changing for both of us. Julie's father thought she was being brainwashed but never the less he respected my passion and became very supportive, as did my mother.

"We became involved in big NSW wilderness rally to save the Franklin River. We trained in non-violent action--but got arrested spent time in jail.

"From the early 1980s we did all sorts of things from walking and bike-riding instead of driving. We didn't own a clothes dryer, there were vegies in garden, we've worked from home since 1992 to cut down travelling, we have always recycled everything we can, always recycled our water, and had home births to minimise hospital use. We were part of permaculture group 18 years ago to assist people to be self-sufficient. We moved out to a farm, set up solar PV system in 1995 and lived in an excellent passive solar house," he says.

In 2001 Colin became acutely ill with a muscle disorder. "For the last four months a great focus has been on assisting Colin to maintain his health as the renewable world needs him to keep working," says Julie.

"We are looking at encouraging our two teenage children to use small motors on push bikes to take them to work and the gym as we currently have no public transport were we live. We need a car for Colin, as using a wheelchair to travel five kilometres into town is not practical, so we're keen to buy a hybrid car and solar PV system soon," she adds.

"Our day-to-day dream is to see a shift from being concerned about global warming as being the big issue to promoting zero-emission technology with the application of renewables on a massive scale. We very much believe in the clean energy revolution and are in fact living it. Renewables have to be seen to be capable to provide base load capacity. We need to keep lobbying governments to pump the same dollars into renewables as they do to support fossil fuel industry. And into nuclear research--you guys at ACF are doing such an amazing job," says Colin.
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Title Annotation:SUPPORTER SPOTLIGHT; Australian Conservation Foundation
Author:Davis, Jodie
Publication:Habitat Australia
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Jan 1, 2008
Previous Article:A Slice of Organic Life.
Next Article:Minutes of the ACF Annual General Meeting.

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