Electricity Price Review Recommendations


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Electricity Price Review Recommendations

Almost one year later, the independent electricity review endorsed by the Labour, NZ First and Green parties has issued their recommendations about New Zealand’s electricity industry.

The review panel, comprised of both consumer and industry representatives, was asked to evaluate whether the current electricity market is delivering fair pricing to consumers and whether the existing structure will be able to handle new technologies.

The almost 40-page long document supports eliminating low-fixed charges and prompt payment discounts in addition to improving the disclosure of the retail/power generation company profit split.

The Electricity Review panel’s recently released review outlines 41 options from seven themes:

  • Strengthening the consumer voice
  • Reducing energy hardship
  • Increasing retail competition
  • Reinforcing wholesale market competition
  • Improving transmission and distribution
  • Improving the regulatory system
  • Preparing for a low-carbon future

Panel’s Ideas to Improve New Zealand’s Electricity Sector

The panel’s interim report issued in September resulted in no evidence that electricity retailers and network companies were making excessive profits.

However, the report did cite concern regarding the development of a “two-tier” retail market which hurts citizens who do not have the means or ability to find the best energy price.


Energy Hardship Identified as a Matter of Priority

The panel endorses a cross-party working group dedicated to energy hardship that would clearly define energy hardship and its drivers.

In addition, the group would establish community-level support services that would offer advice on budgeting, energy efficiency and switching so that electricity prices are more affordable for all.

The group suggests banning prompt payment discounts which they believe also negatively affect low-income consumers. A cap would be added at the retailer’s actual cost or saving for late-payment fees and discounts for bundled services and direct debits.

Win-backs are also suggested to be banned even though both the Electricity Authority and many retailers believe that individual customers have benefited from the resulting lower prices. The panel believes that this practice could also be contributing to the “two-tier” nature of the market.

The panel wants to make mandatory voluntary market-making services that major generators provide for the ASX futures market. This would help existing arrangements become more stable.

In addition, the panel wants to see better disclosure of information that could affect wholesale prices and more enforcement by the Electricity Authority regarding existing disclosure rules. The panel suggests that the Electricity Authority is provided with the ability to monitor wholesale prices against actual costs in the sector.

A government policy statement on distribution pricing is recommended to help reduce the impact on households.


The Electricity Review’s Unsupported Recommendations

It does not support caps on retail prices, separating generation and retailing activities, the forced amalgamation of distribution companies or a regulated decrease in the asset values of the network companies and national grid operator Transpower.

The full document can be viewed online by going here.

Switchme can help you achieve cost savings on your energy bill starting now! Check out our convenient, simple switching process by visiting our website.

Consider These Before Installing Solar Power


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4 Things to Consider Before Installing Solar Power

Are you thinking about installing solar panels at your home?

The energy savings and ability to help the environment may be tempting reasons enough to install some panels on your roof.

But before you make the installation appointment, here’s how to ensure solar panels are suitable for your household.

2016 Solar Trial Provided Insight into NZ’s Electricity Needs

Eastland Network’s 2016 solar trial gathered data to prepare for the future electricity needs of the Gisborne, East Coast and Wairoa regions.

During the trial, nine residential properties received solar systems ranging in size from 2.5kWh to 4.16kWh to validate the economics of residential solar. Properties were chosen depending on the number of occupants, roof pitch, system size and building age.

Although full trial results are still being assessed, some feedback has already been garnered to help people make an informed decision around solar installation.

Is Your Roof Going to Last?

Homeowners considering installing solar panels should ensure their roof is going to last the next 25 years.

When roofs require repairs or a full replacement, solar panels will need to be removed – which could potentially void the manufacturer’s warranty.

Is Your Roof Easily Accessible?

Yes, the majority of work will be completed at the beginning when the solar panels are installed on your home.

However, regular maintenance will be needed on an ongoing basis. In order to do so successfully, your roof needs to have easy access.

Your solar panels will need to be cleaned off regularly. If the pitch is too dangerous or other barriers prevent you from climbing onto your roof safely, then solar panels may not be a great idea.

Are You Located where there’s Optimal Sunlight?

Your solar panels will only generate a successful amount of sunlight if your home faces the proper direction. Optimal roofs are north-facing and not shaded by trees.

An online tool such as Google Maps can identify the direction your roof faces to see if a suitable amount of sunlight would be available.

Can Your Household Maximize Electricity during Peak Sunshine Hours?

Without battery installations (which are an expensive addition to a solar installation), unused electricity is exported back to the grid immediately. So for solar power to be most effective, a household must use as much electricity as possible during daylight hours.

The trial showed that the minimal amount of power that homes should use is 5,000kWh for solar panels to be a great investment.

Other than installing solar panels, looking for ways to save on your energy costs? Switchme offers a free, online platform that enables Kiwis to easily switch to a more affordable energy supplier. Check it out today!

Government’s Electricity Industry Review


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Low Submission Results for Government’s Electricity Industry Review

Only 108 survey submissions on New Zealand’s electricity industry were recently received by the Government.

The low number of responses indicates one of two extremes: either Kiwis are confident with their country’s electricity pricing system, or the lack of industry understanding led to a low number of surveys being completed.

Graeme Peters, Chief Executive of the Electricity Networks Association, read each submission received. Although he notes that several improvements could be implemented, he is hopeful that the low number of responses means that consumers view the industry favorably.

Jessica Wilson, head of Consumer Research, believes differently. She thinks that the low level of responses shows that the issues are complicated for the average electricity consumer.

She stated that the lack of responses does not show that consumers are content with their power bills or with how the pricing is calculated.

The Demographics of Survey Respondents

The majority of the 108 submissions were by industry participants or large companies.

Private submitter's may have found the enormity of the survey along with its format difficult to navigate – thus giving up on the survey before truly even beginning.

Other Recent Surveys Showed Kiwis’ Concern with Electricity Pricing

Other surveys recently conducted did show that Kiwis are concerned with their power bills.

The annual cost of living survey showed that almost 70 percent of consumers were concerned with their electricity costs. Plus, almost 20 percent of Kiwis reported recent financial difficulty paying for their power.

Survey results also showed that the majority of Kiwis were trying to reduce their energy costs.

Final Report Due in Coming Months

The review on the country’s electricity industry is being completed by a panel under the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

The final report is expected in May 2019.

You don’t need to wait until the Electricity Industry Review is over to potentially save on your energy costs! Use Switchme’s free, online energy comparison today to see if you could be saving on your monthly energy bill.

Contact us today for more information about our energy switching services!

Faulty Smart Meter Readings


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Incorrect Smart Meter Readings: What is the True Cause?

If you received an abnormally high power bill, what would you think is the cause?

For many Kiwis, the reliability of their smart meters is questioned after they receive expensive power bills. But in many cases, the smart meter is actually not the problem in the end.

Wondering what is to blame for these inaccurate readings? We have the details for you here!

Customers Report Suspicions About Faulty Smart Meters

Jackie Tangata is one customer who, even after changing energy suppliers, was experiencing abnormally high bills.

Independent tests confirmed that her meter was accurate. Authorities suggested that the problem may instead stem from an electrical item in her home.

During the summer, Bradley Tuhi from Christchurch reported his concerns about a potentially faulty smart meter to his energy supplier Genesis.

The company initially denied his allegation but eventually got the meter tested. The investigation resulted in his meter being declared faulty, consequently explaining why the customer had been overcharged by 66 per cent.

A refund and further discount was offered to the customer.

Computer Problems, Not Smart Meters, Are Sometimes to Blame

Other customer complaints about high energy bills are a result of computer problems.

Hanmer Springs’ resident Gemma Brown was told that her expensive August bill was due to ineffective communication between her smart meter and the energy company’s main computer.

The Majority of Smart Meters Are Not Faulty

According to Utilities Disputes, of the approximately 70-80 smart meter complaints that are investigated yearly, less than five of them involve a faulty meter. Instead, most complaints stem from customers not completely understanding their electricity use.

Vector AMS, a company that owns/manages 1.3 million smart meters throughout New Zealand, reports that problems with the meters are very rare. Tests conducted on suspected-faulty units are completed by a certified testing company. These meters are stored unused for another six months in case further testing is necessary.

All electricity meters must comply with the Electricity Industry Participation Code and meet international standards.

How to Get the Best Rate on Your Household’s Energy Costs

Whether your smart meter has been problematic or not lately, it’s always a good idea to scrutinize your power bill. Regularly checking to see if you’re receiving the best rate on your household’s energy costs can save you money!

Shop around other energy companies quickly, efficiently and easily using Switchme’s two-step online process. Contact us today for more details about how to save more money on your energy bill!

Record Number Of Switches


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Record Number of Power Company Switches in October 2018

Did you recently switch your power company provider?

If so, you’re not alone.

October 2018 saw a record-breaking number of switches made from one power supplier to another. Reports from the Electricity Authority showed that 38,870 households decided to go with a different energy supplier, an increase of 6,000 from September.

Wondering why so many Kiwis made the switch? Curious about which companies gained the influx of customers? We have all the details about the recent spike in power company switches!

The Reason Behind the Increase in Energy Company Switches

By the end of October, wholesale energy prices increased to $1,000 a MWh for certain parts of New Zealand.

The majority of NZ households wouldn’t have noticed the price increase. However, the one per cent of New Zealand customers that are on variable plans that follow spot prices definitely would have. Some of these customers saw their energy bills increase to hundreds of dollars per week.

Since variable-price providers’ prices can change at any time, choosing to use a spot-based retailer does have some risk. While having the ability to lower your energy cost, this spring’s energy market also shows that spot pricing can negatively affect your energy bill almost overnight.

Meridian Energy Customer Base Soared in October

Meridian Energy, the country’s largest renewable energy company, added 1,249 new customers during October.

The most popular switching region was Canterbury, which had over 2 per cent of its residential, industrial and commercial customers changing energy suppliers.

Wholesale Price Increase Results in Energy Companies Closing

Citing unsustainable funding pressures, PowerDirect and Payless Energy recently announced they were exiting the market.

The Electricity Authority (EA) is currently reviewing a joint complaint from Pulse Energy, Electric Kiwi, Vocus Communications and Flick Electric about wholesale market conditions. The complaint claims that the unjustified, non-transparent spot prices are threatening independent competition in the energy market.

Too Many Customers Switching from Variable-Price Providers

There were so many customers trying to switch from spot-price providers that some energy companies had to turn customers away. Electric Kiwi and Nova Energy for example had to refrain from taking on additional customers trying to move from spot-price providers.

Are You Using the Best Energy Company?

At Switchme, we pride ourselves on staying abreast of the latest news in New Zealand’s energy sector. Doing so helps us provide our valued customers with the best energy deals. Check out our website to learn more about how we can help you find the best power company for your household’s needs!

Volatile Spot Market


Volatile Spot Market Causing Retailers to Leave Market

The increase in power prices have hurt more than Kiwis: they’re causing certain electricity retailers to leave the industry.

Three independent electricity retailers are predicted to close in the near future due to the recent exceptional increase in wholesale electricity prices. The situation has seen energy prices spike from less than ten cents per kilowatt hour to over 100 cents. October 2018 saw the highest October whole price average ever recorded at $300 per MWh.

Wondering why there’s been a price increase and what’s being done about it? We’ve got the answers for you about the current energy price spike.

Retailers Lacking Enough “Hedging” Are Suffering the Most

Wholesale prices have more than quintupled recently. Since lake levels persist to be low and gas production has been reduced, wholesale prices are expected to remain high.

Since smaller retailers have limited amounts of power that have been locked in at a guaranteed price, they are the ones most likely to suffer from the price increase.

Power Direct Encouraging Current Customer Base to Switch Retailers

Nelson-based retailer Power Direct is no longer accepting new customers and is urging its current customer base to switch to another retailer.

Otago power retailer Payless Energy also blames market volatility for its departure from the energy market.

Other retailers are making changes, too. Flick Electric is now offering its 24,000 customers a “fixie” contract with a six-month term. One-fifth of their customer base opted for the fixed contract within the first week it was offered.

Manipulation by the Big Five Power Gentailers?

Both the Electricity Authority and the Government have been asked by certain retailers to investigate the current price spike.

Four independent power retailers are concerned that independent competition is being threatened. As a result, householders are losing out as wholesale prices continue to rise.

Complaints from independent retailers Pulse Energy, Electric Kiwi, Vocus Communications and Flick Electric have included concerns that gentailers aren’t transparent or justified.

The price increase is similar to 2008 when there was a genuine shortage of electricity due to the unprecedented dry winter.

Although the Electricity Authority is monitoring the situation, no intervention is currently suggested.

Switchme Ensures You’re Not Paying More than Necessary on Your Energy Bill

With the current energy price spike, it’s more important than ever to ensure you’re getting the best rate on your energy costs!

Use Switchme’s free, online comparison calculator to get the best energy rates. Contact us today for more details!

Are you really that Green


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Is Your Power Really that “Green”?

If you have chosen a certain power retailer because it advertises itself as being a provider of clean, green energy, then you may have to think again! Although certain providers promote their commitment to being environmentally-friendly, they can not guarantee you will be using this power exclusively.

Renewable energy sources like wind and hydro are carbon-free producers, yet geothermal (another renewable type) still emits carbon.

Plus, New Zealand’s national power supply is a mixture of different energy suppliers.

This means that there really is no control over what type of energy ends up being delivered to your household.

Different Energy Sources Used when Renewable Power Sources Get Low

Sometimes, there simply is not enough renewable power sources to generate the amount of power needed by Kiwis.

It’s during times like these that thermal electricity is used as a source, regardless of which electricity provider you use.

Time of Day Matters for Electricity Supply

Where your household’s power comes from depends on what’s being generated at the time you use it.

Since there are both renewable and non-renewable sources constantly supplying the national grid, you could end up with a mixture of sources when it’s delivered to your home.

The majority of electricity does come from hydro. However, when a year is exceptionally dry or if certain hydro plants are not in use, non-renewable sources would then supply the bulk of energy to consumers.

A Mixture of Energy Sources in Nation Grid Leads to Customer Confusion

If this is all news to you, then know that you’re not alone!

In a recent survey conducted by Consumer NZ, 33 percent of consumers consider a company’s commitment to green energy when they choose a retailer.

But depending on how interested and engaged a consumer is with their power account, some consumers may be getting the wrong impression about where their power supply is coming from.

Majority of NZ Supplied from Renewable Sources

New Zealand’s renewable sources deliver around 85% of our country’s electricity.

So even though it’s impossible to ensure you’re only using green energy at all times, the majority of the time you end up doing so.

Even though you may not have control over only receiving green energy, you do have control over which energy provider you use! To ensure you’re getting the best energy rate available, use Switchme’s free, online comparison calculator. Contact us today for more details!

No more PPD for Meridian


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Prompt Payment Discounts No Longer Offered by Meridian

By recently ending their prompt payment discounts, electricity retailer Meridian Energy is bringing more fairness to the electricity retail market.

Wondering why the sudden change and what that means for you? Here’s what you should know about why Meridian has stopped offering a prompt payment discount.

Recently Implemented Change Will Result in More Fairness

The recently released first report of the Electricity Price Review prompted the energy giant to quickly implement the change. The discount ended as of October 1.

Meridian Energy Chief Executive Neal Barclay admitted that the change was long overdue and that the discounts were not as they appeared. Barclay also admitted that the prompt payment discounts were actually penalties charged for late payment of bills.

The discount, which was normally 10 to 20 per cent of a consumer’s bill, could be as high as 26 per cent – which was much higher than the power retailers’ cost of capital.

The prompt payment created an unfair environment since they hurt those who already struggle to pay for their energy bill.

Penalties Created Large Profits for Meridian

Meridian will lose $5 million annually in revenue with the cancellation of the prompt payment discount. Although power companies don’t make excessive profits in New Zealand, prompt payment discounts were a big money generator. Even so, Barclay is happy to see that they will no longer be punishing the customers that need support the most.

Although the system was being reviewed by Meridian for 18 months, the Electricity Price Review is what prompted Meridian to take action.

The preliminary review found that after inflation, residential prices were 79 per cent higher than in 1990. Over the last 18 years, New Zealand’s residential prices have increased quicker than most other OECD countries.

Guaranteed Discounts will be Implemented Instead

Prompt payments were initially introduced with good intentions. However, they eventually disproportionately affected those who could least afford their energy costs. Customers who were already struggling to pay their energy bills, such as seniors or single parents, were missing out on prompt payment discounts because they paid their bills late.

The loss of this discount could add large penalties for consumers who weren’t able to pay on time.

Instead of a prompt payment discount, Meridian will be offering everyone “guaranteed discounts”.

Switchme Makes Energy Savings Easy!

Looking for more ways to save on your energy bill? Check out Switchme’s free, online comparison calculator to see if switching retailers could bring you savings. Contact us today for more information.

New Electric Vehicle Subscription


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New Electric Vehicle Subscription Offered with Mercury

Energy retailer Mercury is taking tips from Netflix and Spotify by offering a subscription service to electric vehicles.

Through a partnership with rental company Snap Rentals, Mercury’s newly launched vehicle subscription service allows customers to rent an electric vehicle (EV) for a certain period of time. The cost for electricity is the only additional fee on top of the subscription fee.

When the time commitment is up, customers simply return the vehicle.

The flexibility associated with the membership is already making this subscription service popular to Kiwis. Here’s what else you should know about Mercury’s new EV subscription!

New Service Proving Popular Right from the Start

This newly launched project has already proved successful!

With the service’s reasonable prices and the ability to swap out a vehicle for another model if desired, it’s no surprise that Kiwis are excited to use this service.

In fact, most of the EVs available are booked by customers within only a few hours.

Electric Vehicle Subscription Service is Appealing to Many

This new offering by Mercury will appeal to a range of Kiwis!

Interested in purchasing an electric vehicle, but worried about having buyer’s remorse? This subscription service enables you to experience what owning an EV will be like, without the financial commitment of purchasing one!

Are you someone who doesn’t require a vehicle on a regular basis, but when you do, you want the vehicle to be environmentally friendly? The subscription service allows you to have an environmentally-friendly vehicle on an as-needed basis.

Know that you’ll need a vehicle for a period of a few months but don’t want to pay for an expensive rental car? With this service, a second-hand first-generation Nissan Leaf costs $469 – which is much less than a mid-range vehicle from a traditional rental car company. Plus, even cheaper rates are available for customers who agree to a minimum six-month term on the EV subscription.

How the New Electric Service Subscription Works

The monthly fee included with the subscription includes comprehensive insurance, maintenance, unlimited kilometres and roadside assistance.

Another advantage is the concierge service that accompanies the subscription service. Delivery and pick-up for your rented EV is conveniently done from your location.

Besides the second-hand first-generation Nissan Leaf, other vehicles available include the Tesla Model S and the Gen 4 Leaf. Future plans by Mercury include stocking the Volkswagen e-golf and the Renault Zoe.

The service, currently only available in Auckland, will be available in other cities soon.

Besides saving on your vehicle costs with this subscription service, how about saving on your household’s energy costs? Contact Switchme today to learn more about our energy savings services!

Electricity Market Welcomes Its Newest Player


Electricity Market Welcomes Its Newest Player, Z Energy

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With a $46 million investment in Flick Electric, Z Energy has made its entrance into the retail electricity market.

As New Zealand’s largest petrol company, Z Energy will have a 70.1 per cent stake in Flick Electric, a four-year-old privately-held power retailer.

Z Energy executives say its recent purchase will help its company’s long-term sustainability and growth. The investment will aid Flick with its future growth plans, too.

Future of Flick’s Growth is Stronger with Recent Investment

Research completed by Flick over the past four years showed that there was a need for a new engagement model in energy retail. Z’s investment will play a large part in helping Flick with future growth.

The investment will benefit Z Energy, too. Besides maximising the innovation potential of the energy sector, Z Energy executives will be focused on the contribution it can make to a lower carbon transport future.

The investment will also help Z extend into one of their three preferred market spaces – future fuels, mobility and the last mile.

Z Energy Will Own Almost Three-Quarters of Flick Electric’s Total Shareholding

Two payment instalments will be made before Z-Energy owns almost three-quarters of Flick Electric’s stake.

Initially, twenty-two per cent of Flick in new issued capital will be paid by Z Energy at the cost of $15.6 million.

An additional 48.1 per cent of existing shares will be purchased for $30.4 million. This will result in Z Energy holding 70.1 per cent of the total shares.

Eastland Group, Evander Management and Angel HQ are other investors with Flick. Flick’s revenue, which totalled $43.4 million in the year ending March 31, is expected to be earnings positive for Z Energy within four years.

Flick’s Technology Development Attracted Z Energy

Flick’s start-up mentality along with its use of technology was an investment attraction for Z Energy.

Through the use of smart metering technology and proprietary software, Flick is able to offer customers electricity based on half-hourly wholesale rates, plus a margin.

Couple Flick’s assets with Z Energy’s innovation and marketing experience, operational scale and resources, and a successful future is predicted for both.

Wondering if you’re currently getting the best rate on your household’s or business’ energy costs? Check out Switchme’s free, online energy comparison calculator to find out today! Contact us today for more details.

Five Power Hungry Home Appliances


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Reduce Electricity Bills by Targeting these Five Power Hungry Home Appliances

It’s always a good time to save money, but especially so during New Zealand’s colder months when heating bills are high. The good news? By targeting five different home appliances, you can start experiencing money savings today! Here’s how:

Clothes Dryers

A clothes dryer is indispensable – especially during the colder months when we can’t hang clothes outside to dry! Since you’re using it so regularly, this appliance is a great place to start applying money-saving tactics.

When using your clothes dryer, keep a close eye on it so that it doesn’t run any longer than necessary. Consult your owner’s manual for tips on load sizes to avoid overloading.

Want to really experience savings? Purchase a new model that is vented since they’re cheaper to run. Make sure that your new dryer is the most energy efficient that you can buy by comparing energy ratings.

Computers and Other Electronics

Spending more time inside during the cooler months usually means more time spent on electronics, too. Each piece of technology you own produces its own heat, which can quickly rack up your energy bill.

If you use your computer or another electronic device intermittently, start turning it off or using the “sleep” mode at least. At the end of each day, unplug them from the wall, too.

Electronics such as TVs and music systems are easy to turn off using their remotes. Although that will reduce your power consumption, they are still using electricity if the little red light remains on. Be sure to turn the device off at the wall for maximum cost savings.

Fridges and Freezers

Many of us keep our fridge or freezer open while searching for something to eat, which makes all the cold air pour out. Prevent this from happening by having a meal idea in mind before you open the door, which you should close as quickly as possible.

When shopping for your next fridge or freezer, avoid buying the wrong size since overfilling it will use more energy.

Washing Machines

Like your clothes dryer, an inefficiently run washing machine quickly racks up your power bill!

Take care to avoid overloading the machine so that less electricity is used. Your owner’s manual will help you choose the appropriate settings for each load, ensuring only the necessary amount of power and water are used. Using only cold water with an excellent detergent will mean less money spent on each load, too.

Reduce the time your clothes will spend in your dryer by using the highest spin cycle on everything except delicate items.

Thinking of replacing your machine? Keep in mind that a new washing machine should be energy efficient, be an appropriate size for your household’s needs and have high spin speeds.

Televisions

When shopping for a new TV, remember that the bigger the screen is, the more power it will require.

An even better way to reduce your energy costs related to watching TV? Reduce your screen time!

By implementing our tips above, you will experience some cost-savings right away. To experience even greater savings, ensure you’re not overpaying on your energy costs. Use our free, online comparison calculator to find out if you could be saving more on your energy bill!

Gisborne: Tops Switch List


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Gisborne: The Current leader for Power Supply Switches

In New Zealand, we have choices when it comes to choosing an energy supplier. And with more than 40 energy retailers providing Kiwis with their energy supply, it pays to shop around!

New Zealand’s competitive energy market has numerous retailers each offering their own discounts and pricing to compete for your business. Although many Kiwis country-wide realize this, the Gisborne region saw the highest number of switching rates this past June.

Gisborne Region’s Recent Record High Number of Power Company Switches

With 15 energy companies to choose from in the Gisborne region, many customers decided to recently make the switch to a new electricity supplier.

June’s highest number of power supply switching rates in New Zealand occurred in this region, where 2.31 percent of consumers switched.

Whether Gisborne region’s Kiwis tired of paying high energy rates or dealing with poor customer service, many of them decided to try out a new electricity company.

Electricity Authority Encourages Consumers to Do Their Own Research

You may think that you are getting the best energy deal possible, but how do you know that for sure?

According to the Electricity Authority, you should be doing your research to ensure that what you’re paying for electricity actually is the best rate that you can get.

With New Zealand’s highly competitive energy market, retailers are forced to offer incentive deals to consumers – or risk losing their business.

Consumers: Get Involved in Your Electricity Billing!

Consumers should take an active role in the electricity market by researching other providers’ rates or by asking for a better deal from their current retailer.

New customers aren’t the only one to get discounts! Ask your retailer about available discounts for being a loyal customer or for making the switch to a more efficient payment or mailing method.

Energy Switching Company “Switchme” Makes Switching Energy Easy!

As a consumer, it pays to do your research! Who knows? You could end up with more money in your pocket at the end of the day.

Whether you’re looking for a lower rate or better customer service, it’s not difficult to shop around other electricity suppliers.

Energy switching companies like Switchme make switching energy retailers easy. Within only a matter of minutes, find out what other energy rates are available to you. Check out our free, online comparison calculator today for more details!

Can You Read Your Power Bill?


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Can You Read Your Power Bill?

When temperatures started to plummet, what do you reach for first?

Most likely, it’s a blanket or extra sweater. If so, you’re not alone!

Instead of cranking the heat during New Zealand’s winter months, almost half of Kiwis add extra clothing layers for warmth. With our power bills already being so high, most Kiwis try to keep thermostat changes as the last resort. But what if there were other ways to keep your power bill costs low?

Understanding Your Power Bill is the Key to Saving Money

Recent research from Canstar Blue also found that three in ten Kiwis do not understand their power bills.

That means that 30% of Kiwis may be paying more money than necessary for their household’s energy costs. How do you know if you’re getting a good deal or not if you don’t understand what you’re paying for in the first place? The short answer: you don’t.

A Breakdown of Your Power Bill

Besides reflecting your household’s power usage, your power bill includes when you use your power, too. The rates included on the bill include costs from power generation to delivery to your door.

The first part of your bill, the daily fixed charge, is the amount that covers the generation and transportation costs of power to your home.

There will also be variable charges or costs that change depending on your usage. These are made up of Kilowatt per hour (or kWh). Taxes will also be included on the total amount of your power bill.

Ways to Save on Power Costs

After understanding what you’re currently paying for, it’s time to see if there are ways to save on your household’s energy costs!

Spot Price Contracts

For disciplined Kiwis that use off-peak times for the majority of their energy usage, spot price contracts may be the way to go.

This type of billing arrangement has you pay less than the retail market rate for your power. However, if you’re on a spot price contract and you use your appliances during peak time, you could end up paying much more.

Low-User Tariffs or Controlled Plans

For smaller households, there are cost-savings plans that involve a meter supplying electricity to appliances for a specific time each day. A great way to save on washing machine, hot water cylinder and heat pump operating costs!

Payment Arrangement Discounts

Many energy providers offer discounts to efficient customers. Inquire about whether you are eligible for a prompt payment, direct debit, dual fuel or email correspondence discount.

Other Ways to Save on Energy

With over 40 energy companies competing for your business, it pays to spend some time researching whether you can get a cheaper rate elsewhere!

Easily utilize Switchme’s free, online comparison calculator to immediately see if you’re getting the best rate on your energy costs. Contact us today for more information.

Increased Number of Energy Disputes


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Increased Number of Energy Disputes

Over the past year, more than 5,500 people contacted Utilities Disputes, a free and independent complaints service. As released in the organization’s 2017-18 Annual Report, most of the complaints were regarding electricity or gas.

Complaints…By the Numbers

Out of a total of 5,528 people who contacted Utilities Disputes last year, 5,232 were about electricity or gas. The remainder was about broadband shared property disputes (236) and water (3).

The majority of the complaints were about billing, which increased by approximately ten percent compared to the previous year. Other issues included customer service, disconnections, meter issues and supply issues.

Genesis Energy had the most complaints but also has the greatest market share.

Utilities Disputes Works Hard to Keep the Energy Market Fair for Consumers

Although the organization has nothing to do with setting energy market prices, Utilities Disputes does work diligently to ensure citizens are treated fairly.

The organization can investigate issues such as billing problems (including whether the person is on the most appropriate plan), customer service experiences and lack of notices.

It’s those issues and more that can create considerable stress, causing people to reach out to Utilities Dispute for assistance.

Poor Communication is One of the Biggest Concerns

Often times, better communication is needed between power companies and consumers. Many complaints received by the organization involved communications’ matters including placement of equipment on property, inadequate communication about tree trimming, promised rates not being received and phone calls not being returned.

Since there are so many different providers offering various energy plans to consumers, energy companies need to practice effective communication methods.

Better Awareness of Utilities Dispute is Needed

Recent consumer surveys revealed that general awareness of Utilities Disputes’ services was low. The organization is working hard to change that perception.

Last year, Utilities Disputes won a Plain English award – a huge step towards building better visibility for the organization.

People are encouraged to complain first to their energy company, giving them an opportunity to resolve the matter. If unresolved, the complaint can be brought forward to Utilities Disputes.

Complaints can lead to Positive Change

The complaint process handled by Utilities Disputes often leads to proactive change by utility businesses.

For example, better complaint management and more proactive customer service are two ways that complaints can lead to businesses improving their practices. The process assists consumers with making more informed choices, too.

Switchme, New Zealand’s largest, non-government funded switching site, also helps consumers make smart energy choices! Complete a comparison on our website today to see the retailer options available.

Switchme welcomes Flick Electric Co


Flick Electric Co are now available on Switchme

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Giving you power over your power.

Flick's pricing is totally different to other power companies. Instead of charging you a fixed rate, they pass through all the wholesale costs of getting electricity to your place without any mark-up. Which saves their customers an average $350 annually!

"Our goal is lofty - to help bring an end to energy poverty in Aotearoa. Too many Kiwis ( <http://www.otago.ac.nz/centre-sustainability/otago055642.pdf> 20% according to MBIE) are subject to energy choices that impact on their wellbeing. Like choosing between food on the table and adequately heating their home. And that plain ain't right. But there's a way to reduce power bills without cutting back on the power that keeps Kiwi homes safe and comfortable. Six Wellingtonians launched a tech-based power company in 2014 to disrupt the status quo, by offering a fair and transparent way to purchase power through the wholesale electricity market. From those humble beginnings, the Flick family has grown in size, but our core values remain the same. We're built on the bones of fairness, honesty and transparency. And that's something we're flickin' proud of."


As the wholesale market pricing can change every half hour, you must already have a smart meter to be a customer with Flick so they can determine when the power is used to match with the wholesale rate at that time. The pricing we have loaded is based on the average wholesale rate from the last 12 months. This means there will be periods where the rates are higher, but also when they are lower. By using the App you can determine what the rates is at any given time, and you can choose when the best time is for you to use your power. You can take power over your power.



Warming Kiwi Homes


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New Grant Programme Launched to Help Keep Kiwi Homes Warm

Even though winter may be about the end here in New Zealand, the cold temperatures will continue to be felt by many Kiwis – especially those with low-income.

But thanks to the government’s new “Warmer Kiwi Homes” insulation programme, low-income homeowners can soon receive assistance with keeping their home warm for future winters.

$142 Million Investment into the New Kiwi Homes Grant Programme

The new grant programme can cover two-thirds of the cost of ceiling and underfloor insulation and ground moisture barriers for eligible homeowners.

The program helps to meet the promises outlined in the Coalition and Confidence and Supply Agreements with New Zealand First and the Green Party.

Grant Program Will Help Kiwis Enjoy a Warmer, Healthier Winter

Managed by The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), the four-year government grant programme is designed to help keep Kiwi homes warmer, drier and healthier.

Because the EECA is encouraging community organisations to contribute funding, the overall costs for homeowners will be as low as possible in many areas.

Although the grant’s first year is focussed on insulation costs, heating grants will become available in July 2019.

Grant Programme Will Help Ease Health System Pressure

Not only do cold temperatures bring health conditions that are costly to families, but they add strain to the country’s health system, too.

Recognizing the need for a solid solution to this problem, the government raised the level of funding per grant from 25 percent to cover two-thirds of the cost.

Are You Eligible for a Grant?

The grant programme helps bring warmth to cold, damp homes that lead to rheumatic fever and asthma – thereby targeting Kiwis who need it most.

Designed to help people who live in low decile areas or have a health condition, the grant eligibility criteria (as listed on the EECA’s website) includes:

  • Being the homeowner (owner-occupier) of a home built before 2008 AND
  • Having a Community Services Card or SuperGold combo card OR
  • Owning and living in a home in an identified lower-income area OR
  • Be referred by the Healthy Homes Initiative

To find out if you’re eligible for a grant, visit https://www.energywise.govt.nz/funding-and-support/funding-for-insulation/.

In the meanwhile, want to ensure you’re saving as much money as possible on your energy costs each month?

Complete a comparison on Switchme today to compare and switch energy providers. Contact us today for more details about our services!

2018 Entrust Dividends


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2018 Largest Dividend Process Begins this Month by Entrust

If you’re one of 327,000 Kiwis who is an Entrust consumer, you’ve probably received your dividend payment preference form by now.

The form allows people to receive a payment option that they prefer for the annual dividend which will be paid in late September.

Last year, the dividend was $350. Not only did the amount help support many households, but it also boosted Auckland’s economy by more than $110 million.

Do You Qualify for an Entrust Dividend Payout?

If your name was on the August 2 power bill for a home and/or business in the Entrust district (encompassing Auckland, Manukau, northern parts of Papakura and eastern Franklin) that is connected to Vector’s electricity network, you will probably be receiving this year’s dividend.

Entrust has a 75.1 percent shareholding in Vector. When Vector pays a dividend, almost the entire dividend is passed on to Entrust consumers.

Choose the Payment Option that Suits You Best

Payment method options on the form include cheque, direct credit to your bank account or a credit to your electricity bill. The most convenient way, via direct credit, allows consumers to receive the money without waiting for a mailed cheque or visiting the bank.

For the most part, only people who want to change their payment method will need to respond to the letter.

Ensuring the Payment Process Goes Smoothly

Want to guarantee that the payment process will be a smooth one in September? Check that the following two tasks are completed:

  • Ensure the name of the Entrust form matches the name on your bank account. If it doesn’t, get your electricity retailer to update your account name.
  • If you want to change the payment method, return the form by Monday, August 6.

What Will You Do with Your Dividend Payout?

What to do with your dividend, which is normally a significant amount for most households, is entirely up to you!

Whether you choose to pay off a bill, put it aside for Christmas or enjoy a weekend away, go ahead – enjoy!

Any Questions?

If you have not received your form by now or have any questions regarding the dividend process, check out the help page found here.

As the payment comes via the lines company, it is not affected by the retailer you use. So ensure you’re paying the best rate for your household’s energy costs! Contact Switchme today for a comparison and more details about our energy switching services.

Do Loyal Customer Pay More?


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Are Loyal Power Customers Paying More?

When was the last time you switched power companies?

If it was any longer than two years ago, then you may not be getting the best pricing option currently available.

Since the best prices and offers are usually only being offered to customers who switch to a new electricity provider, those who remain loyal may end up being the ones who pay the most.

In many cases, these customers are elderly or low-income; in other words, they are the ones who could benefit from power savings the most.

Are You Ready to Switch?

If you want to ensure you’re getting the best power deal possible, check with a website such as Switchme.

As New Zealand’s largest, non-government funded switching site, Switchme provides thousands of Kiwis each year with the best help and advice navigating the switching process.

By using the online comparison calculator, you’ll know right away if a better power deal is available. If it is, you can easily switch to the new company without having any interrupted service!

Other Options to Switching

If you’re not quite ready to switch to a new retailer but want to receive new incentives from being a loyal customer, there are options available.

First, contact your current power company and inquire about the plan you’re on. Find out if the price and service you’re receiving is actually the best one for your household’s needs.

Depending on what you require from your power company, there may be more suitable plan available. For example, is Standard or Low Using pricing the best option for your consumption? Can you get more incentives by having a direct debit or getting correspondence via email? Are you able to bundle more than one service (such as electricity and gas)? These can make a difference in cost.

Research Special Incentives

It’s also worth asking if your current power company offers any special incentives. For example, do you use a bicycle or own an electric vehicle? If so, your provider may offer you a discount or special rate.

Then, compare what you’re currently paying to what you could get from other power companies. Utilize the Switchme website to compare prices and available offers. Do your research to check and compare or call us to discuss the options.

If you’re tempted by what you see but still want to remain loyal to your current power provider, give them one last attempt. Contact them and tell them about the other company's deal and see if they are willing to offer you anything to keep you around as a customer.

Why wait any longer? Start saving money today! Contact Switchme for more details.

Win Backs and Saves


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“Win Backs” and “Saves”

We’re lucky in New Zealand. Whereas other parts of the world have monopolized electricity markets, we have the choice of almost 50 different electricity retailers. And because of the fierce competition in New Zealand’s electricity market, retailers work hard to keep us happy.

But with many retailers offering incentives to prevent customers from leaving or tantalizing deals to draw them back, the way New Zealand’s electricity retailers remain competitive is starting to be questioned.

Electricity Market Regulator Investigating Fairness of Current Market Practice

In many cases, customers who do not shop around end up paying more than customers who do – a problem identified by New Zealand’s electricity market regulator, The Electricity Authority.

“Saves” are identified as customers who are prevented from leaving before the switching process has completed. “Win-backs” are customers who return to their old retailer after the switch has gone through.

Statistics show that by offering a discount or credit on their power bills, some retailers can win back up to 40 per cent of its customers.

Although The Electricity Authority implemented a “save protection scheme” in January 2015 that provided winning retailers with the option of being protected from saves, it did not regulate win-backs. Doing so has resulted in many retailers waiting until after the switch is completed before trying to win the customer back.

The current review, led by the Market Development Advisory Group, will review the entire customer acquisition process (both saves and win-backs) and scrutinize the resulting competition effects.

How the Switching Process Works

When a customer decides they would like to shop around for a new electricity retailer, the first step is to complete some research. Switchme, New Zealand’s largest, non-government funded switching site, provides helpful information and assistance with all aspects of the switching process, and comparing the power providers.

Once a customer has switched to a new retailer, the switch is recorded in a registry. This ensures the customer receives a smooth, uninterrupted power supply and pays the correct amount to both the old and the new retailer.

The Effect on the Non-Switching Customers

Concern has been raised that loyal customers are not being offered anything for their loyalty. In fact, while on the companies default rates, they may be spending extra, which the retailer uses to offset the cost of winning back customers, or acquiring new ones. New offers with lower rates may only be available to new customers to the retailer, while existing customer are not eligable.

In many cases, customers who switch only enjoy the new, lower rates for a short period of time, too.

The Bottom Line

With its main focus on fairness, the forthcoming power review will determine if we are being well-served by the current market practice.

If it determines we’re not, the review will uncover the changes that need to be implemented.

Government’s Review of Electricity Prices


The Importance of the Government’s Review of Electricity Prices

Prior to last year’s election, Labour, the Greens and NZ First government parties all promised thorough reviews of the country’s energy sector.

And now’s the time that we see those promises come to fruition.

The New Zealand government announced that it will be conducting an energy sector review. This review will examine the price of electricity and determine what (if any) changes need to be made to keep the market fair for customers.

The Importance of a Review

Have you been noticing your power prices steadily increasing over the last several years?

If so, you’re not alone.

Over the last few years, New Zealand’s power prices have increased faster than inflation – a cause for concern to our country’s leaders.

The problem has been recognized for some time and certain solutions have been implemented already. For example, the “winter energy payment” option that the government implemented has helped lower-income New Zealanders heat their homes during the winter.

However, the reason why power prices continue to increase has never really been thoroughly examined, which is what this review intends to do.

What's Involved in the Review?

Even though you pay only one price on your energy bill, the cost of getting that power to you is much more complicated!

Power costs arise from various stages: generation (hydropower, geothermal or wind), transmission, distribution, retail and consumption. The review’s main purpose – to investigate the causes of the rising electricity costs – will examine all five of these stages.

At the same time, the review will determine if changes need to be made to the rules and regulations surrounding the energy industry.

The review will also look at how new technologies such as electric vehicles and solar panels can be better managed by the sector.

The Implications of the Review

With the increasing use of these new technologies, the government needs to ensure that our energy sector will be able to successfully handle the influx.

Plus, the review aims to ensure there is greater transparency surrounding energy bills and fair pricing for customers.

More competition and consumer benefits will also likely be a result of the review.

Getting Ready for the Future

The last decade alone has seen New Zealand make huge advances in the energy sector. Having a review completed at this stage will help ensure we are prepared for the future!

To see if you’re currently getting the best price for your household’s power consumption, check out Switchme and complete a comparison today.