22,000 make power switch

By Kiri Gillespie

More than 22,000 people switched power companies in the Bay of Plenty in the past year, that's more than 16 per cent of all electricity consumers.

The figures reflect rising competition as consumers shop around.

In total, 22,079 people switched power companies in the Bay - 16.7 per cent of all power consumers - in the year to March 31, 2013.

Tauranga energy heavyweight TrustPower lost 2645 customers.

Electricity Authority figures show TrustPower lost those Bay of Plenty customers, or Individual Connection Points, while MightyRiverPower gained 2204 in the region.

TrustPower had about 60,000 customers and spokesman Graham Purches told the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend the loss of 2645 was "peanuts".

"Out of 60,000 [Bay customers] it's neither here nor there. That's 2645 who won't get a Tect cheque."

Mr Purches said some companies were operating at a loss in order to gain customers.

Genesis Energy gained 1232 new customers on top of about 10,000, Contact Energy gained 927 to 6950, and Meridian Energy gained 422.

Nova Energy (formerly Bay of Plenty Electricity) lost 2018 of its 22,835 Bay customers.

Tauranga MP and Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges said: "People have choices in terms of their power retailers and one of the things the Government is most proud of is the Powerswitch website, where you can clearly find out if you can save money by switching power companies.

Labour's energy spokeswoman Moana Mackey said the cost of power was already too much and the party planned to bring prices down.

Shopping around brings big savings

  Chelles McIntosh knows all too well how much money can be saved by switching power companies.

The Gate Pa mother of four had enough of paying too much on a plan that was not working for her, she said.

Ms McIntosh had been a Contact Energy customer on one of its Smooth Pay services.

Smooth Pay is an agreed amount paid weekly that contributes to the monthly power bill.

"They kept changing the goal posts on me," Ms McIntosh said.

Now the family are with Mercury Energy (part of MightyRiverPower) and saving about $45 a week, she said. Mercury was the second choice recommended by the Powerswitch website. Contact Energy was first.  

- Bay of Plenty Times

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