Consumer NZ’s Survey of Energy Retailers

Consumer NZ’s Survey of Energy Retailers

A recent Consumer NZ survey on energy retailers involving 1,500 customers revealed information about the country’s power plans. From customer satisfaction levels to certain plans that are the most popular prepaid power option, here are three of the biggest results from the survey’s data.

Globug Most Used Prepaid Power

Operated by Mercury Energy, prepaid power provider Globug is the most popular prepaid power option currently available. Its 25,400 customers are comprised of people who typically lack adequate credit histories needed to receive a standard power account with another retailer.

The survey results showed that one-third of Globug prepaid power customers have had to borrow money from family and friends to pay their bills. An additional twenty percent had to take out a loan.

As a pre-pay service designed to target customers that need help with managing their household’s energy costs, the results from Globug are not surprising according to Mercury officials.

Globug’s Customer Base Unhappy with Value for Money

Globug’s overall customer satisfaction levels had increased and were above 60 percent. However, the customer base was most likely to be dissatisfied with the value for money they received.

Mercury officials understand that value for money is of high importance to Globug customers which is why this a focus area for the company, too.

To keep electricity costs fair for already financially strapped prepay customers, Consumer NZ is requesting improved customer protections. Currently, one of the more affordable ways to top up is with internet banking – yet many prepayment households lack home internet. Completing the top up in-store costs 75c.

Better consumer protections would increase fairness for prepay customers, who pay additional fees and comparatively higher rates that non-prepayment customers.

Overall Customer Satisfaction Levels

The survey also displayed that just over half (51 percent) of Kiwis thought they were getting good service from their energy companies.

Although most of the content customer base was with Genesis, Contact, Mercury, Trustpower and Meridian, the smaller brands received the highest customer satisfaction ratings. Powershop followed by Nova Energy were the best ranked.

Costly Energy Rates are Worrisome for Kiwis

Over 30 percent of New Zealanders are worried about their household’s power costs and some of our homes aren’t as warm as we would like.

About 15 percent of customers are trying to save money by reducing their heating costs.

If you’re interested in saving on your energy costs in a simple, convenient way, check out Switchme’s services today.

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.

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.

Switchme welcomes Flick Electric Co

Flick Electric Co are now available on Switchme


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 ( <> 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.

clubenergynz is now on Switchme!

Here is another reason to check out Switchme, New Zealand’s non-government funded energy switching site. clubenergynz has now been launched on the site.

energyclubnz is a brand new electricity provider, launched to give kiwis a fair deal and is proud to be a trusted Stuff business, who house other Kiwi brands like Stuff Fibre, Neighbourly and Done Health Insurance. energyclubnz delivers electricity at cost for a small weekly club fee, we keep it simple with no fixed term contracts, no risk, no paperwork, no break fees and no surprises. Enjoy the right rates for your property and great customer service all while we try and save you a few dollars to keep those lights and smiles on.

energyclubnz is the only retailer in New Zealand that doesn't profit from you using more electricity - join the club to help you save and manage your home energy.

energyclubnz can currently supply in, Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, and Hamilton.

Mercury is Now Available on Switchme!

If you’ve been waiting for even more reasons to check out Switchme, New Zealand’s non-government funded energy switching site, here’s one more: Mercury has now been launched on the site.

The company provides nationwide energy supply, and offers both electricity and dual-fuel options. With 13 power stations in its operation (all within Auckland, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty), the company has a total of 1,638MW of generating capacity.

Not only is Mercury one of New Zealand’s biggest electricity retailers, but it is a company that is committed to supporting the community that supports them. Through many sponsorships and partnerships – such as with Rowing New Zealand and Starship – Mercury plays a vital role in supporting the wellbeing of New Zealanders.

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The Benefits of Joining Mercury

With almost 400,000 users, there are clearly reasons why customers are choosing Mercury as their power provider. The reasons are plentiful! Mercury is dedicated to rewarding customers that choose them for their electricity, gas or solar for their home, business or farm.

They offer the following rewards for choosing them as your energy provider:

  • Earn AirpointsTM: By being rewarded with Airpoints Dollars when you pay your Mercury bill, you’ll now be that much closer to taking that dream trip!
  • Wonderful E.Bikes: Join the thousands of other Kiwis who see the benefits of using e.bikes! Save up to $500 on an as a Mercury customer.
  • Great Self-Service Tools: Update your personal details, review and pay your bills, check your energy usage and more 24 hours a day using the “My Account” feature.
  • Service with a Smile: An award-winning contact centre is happy to help you with any question or concern you may have.
  • Be Part of the Magic: As a 5-star sponsor of the Starship Foundations since 2001, Mercury and its customers have donated more than ten million dollars to the foundation’s cause!

Start Saving on Your Energy Bill Right Away with Switchme!

Interested in seeing what kind of energy deal Mercury can offer you? Check out Switchme’s free, online comparison calculator to see what type of energy rate Mercury Energy can offer you! In only three easy steps, you can quickly and easily find out how your current energy rate stacks up against other power providers.

Check out Switchme today to start saving on energy costs!

Making an Electricity or Gas Complaint

Not happy with the electricity or gas services being provided to your home or business and wondering what to do next? Follow the tips below to learn how to make a complaint about your energy provider.

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Navigating the Complaint Process

The first step in the complaint process is to contact the company directly that is providing you with the services. Check your bill for a free phone number or e-mail address to direct your complaint to. Writing “complaint” in the email subject line or stating it right away when calling ensures you are directed to the right resource. Contacting the company first will hopefully result in a quick solution and prevent the need of going any further with the complaint.

Contacting Utilities Dispute

In general, the provider has 20 working days to resolve the complaint with you. If your complaint is still not resolved, Utilities Dispute can look into it for you. They will first need to ensure that your complaint is about something they can look into and is at proper stage for their involvement. If Utilities Dispute is unable to look into your complaint, they will refer you to the agency that can.

Utilities Dispute Works with You and Your Provider

By working closely with you and your provider, Utilities Dispute will hopefully find an outcome that suits both parties. Usually, an in-person or telephone meeting is arranged between you and the provider (facilitated by a Utilities Dispute conciliator), or information is passed between the two parties by Utilities Dispute. If technical or legal information is needed, Utilities Dispute can get expert advice.

Getting a Recommendation from the Commissioner

If the complaint is not resolved, the Commissioner can be referred to for a proposed recommendation. This recommendation is then given to you and your provider along with the opportunity to comment. If both parties accept the proposed recommendation, it becomes binding; if you or your provider does not accept the proposed recommendation, comments can be submitted.

Seeking a Solution

If you do not accept the Commissioner’s final recommendation, Utilities Dispute will close the file. In this case, you may have the option to take the complaint to another forum such as Disputes Tribunal or district court. If you accept, but the provider does not, a determination will be made by the Commissioner. If this is the case, the provider must comply with the Commissioner’s recommendation.

Switchme Can Help You Switch Energy Companies!

Even after completing a complaint, are you still unhappy with your energy provider? If so, Switchme can help! Use our free, online power comparison calculator or phone line support to easily compare and switch energy providers. Let us help you find the best energy deal! Contact us today for more information.

What’s in Your Power Bill?

Even though your power bill includes a ton of information, understanding it can be a whole other matter! Not only does your bill include how much power you have used, but it also includes how much you need to pay and more importantly, explains where that fee goes. Understanding your bill will give you a better idea of what your hard-earned money is going towards each time you apply a payment!

Fixed Versus Variable Charges

Most power bills will include two different costs: fixed and variable. A fixed rate is charged on each bill and does not depend on how much power is used. On the other hand, variable charges encompass the amount of power you do use. This charge is based on the kilowatt hours consumed and is charged at the rate you've set up with your retailer.

Electricity Authority Levy...Explained!

Also included on your bill is an "Electrical Authority Levy" charge, which is normally based on the amount of power utilized. This charge covers the cost of the Electric Authority, which regulates the power industry.

Breaking Down Each Dollar on Your Bill

You work hard for your money, so you deserve to know exactly what your money goes toward each time you pay your power bill. Every dollar on your bill is used wisely; see below to learn more about where each dollar of your bill goes:

  • Power generation, or making electricity, accounts for over 30%
  • Almost 10% goes towards covering the cost of building and maintaining the national grid
  • Building and maintaining the power lines that transport electricity from the national grid to your house accounts for just over 26%
  • The retailers’ operating costs (whom you purchased electricity from) account for approximately 16%
  • 13% covers the goods and services tax
  • Slightly over 3% covers the cost of reading and maintaining electricity meters
  • Just under 1% covers market governance and market services. The market governance fee provides energy efficient programs, as well as cost coverage for running organisations that regulate the electricity industry. Market services money goes towards covering the operating costs of the organisations that manage the day-to-day management of the power market.

Try Switchme's Free Comparison Calculator!

Now that you understand more about your power bill, are you wondering how you can save money on each bill? If so, Switchme can help!

We at Switchme work hard to let you know if there is a more economical solution available for providing your power! Contact us today to learn more details and to utilize our free comparison calculator to compare power companies.