New figures released by the Electricity Authority reveal nearly 111,000 electricity customers switched retailers over the winter months from June 1st to August 31st.
Mercury had the largest growth in customers over this period, with over 3,600 new customers over this period. This was followed by smaller retailers Flick (2,813) and Electric Kiwi (2,349). On the other end, Genesis Energy and Contact Energy suffered the largest net losses.
The electricity network experiences the greatest demand in the winter months largely due to heating appliances. To illustrate, the Electricity Authority compared energy consumption on the 8th of August, with energy consumption six months prior (8th of Feb). February electricity consumption peaked at 4,614 MW while August consumption peaked at 6,451 MW – an increase of nearly 40%.
Higher electricity consumption in the colder months sometimes means we get caught out with unexpectedly high electricity bills, which prompts us to get up and compare energy retailers. According to research commissioned by Canstar Blue earlier this year, 35% of New Zealanders don’t believe they’re getting the best deal on electricity, yet only 45% claimed to have compared retailer prices in the last 12 months.
Electricity Authority Chief Executive Carl Hansen says “Customers who switch are not only finding better deals, they are helping to add even more competitive pressure to the retail electricity market.
Electricity retailers work hard to keep your custom, and since our research shows that most kiwis (79%) opt for an open-term contract, retailers must keep on their toes to satisfy customers. To see which major retailers are delivering on satisfaction, you can use our customer satisfaction ratings.
Alternatively, if you’re solely interested in comparing prices, the Electricity Authority’s website WhatsMyNumber is a great resource to see if you can save money by switching retailers.
How do I switch electricity retailers?
Customers often don’t understand how much control they have over their energy bill. So long as you’re not in a fixed term contract, you’re free to switch retailers any time. If you’re unhappy with your retailer, you should first attempt to contact them to see if they can do you a better deal. If your retailer knows you’re considering switching, there’s a good chance they can organise a cheaper offer for your needs.
If after this, you still want to switch, then it’s really as simple as calling or visiting the preferred energy retailer’s website and telling them you want to sign up. It’s that simple, your new retailer will sort out the rest.
The rise of small retailers
The increasingly lucrative energy market has given rise to smaller, innovative retailers. As mentioned, Flick and Electric Kiwi had the second and third largest growth respectively over winter 2016 despite being smaller and younger than most of their major competitors. So who are they?
Flick operates on a different structure to that of other retailers. Flick offers customers the wholesale spot market price for electricity and adds a retailer cost fee on top. Flick says its system is ‘New Zealand’s fairest power deal’ and claim it can potentially save you money. Customers will need a smart meter however as wholesale rates change every half hour.
Electric Kiwi claims it saved its customers on average 18% over winter 2016, which is perhaps a large reason why they received so many new customers over this same period. Labelling itself as the ‘smaller, smarter power company’, Electric Kiwi says its created a system using smart meter information to deliver cheaper prices for customers. Electric Kiwi also gives its customers a whole free hour of off-peak electricity.