Perceptions of power competition improve

By Brian Fallow

People regard the power companies as less competitive than supermarkets. Photo / Greg Bowker
People regard the power companies as less competitive than supermarkets. Photo / Greg Bowker

Public perceptions of how competitive the retail electricity sector is have improved, though to less-than-emphatic levels.

A survey of 750 people - 82 per cent of them bill payers - by UMR Research, commissioned by the Electricity Authority, found 64 per cent deem electricity retailers competitive.

That was up from 56 per cent in a similar survey two years ago.

But of that group nearly a third, 19 per cent of those polled, rated the level of competition as "just adequate".

People regard the power companies as less competitive than supermarkets, electrical goods stores, phone companies or banks, but more competitive than petrol stations or online bookstores. Perceptions of whether competition among generators ensures they generate power as cheaply as possible, and whether power stations are being built in time to meet growing demand, improved on two years ago, although the largest share of the sample were neutral or unsure.

Meanwhile a separate UMR survey of 81 "stakeholders", or industry insiders, found a bare majority, 52 per cent, consider the electricity market ensures power is generated and supplied efficiently, though that is up from just 40 per cent in 2011.

But the stakeholder survey recorded a decline to 22 per cent, from 30 per cent in 2011, in those who think that the current level of competition among electricity retailers ensures the prices consumers pay rise only in line with electricity companies' costs.

- NZ Herald

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