Shauni James is a Rotorua Daily Post reporter

More than 9000 switch power companies

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More than 9000 Rotorua households changed power companies in the year to May.  Photo/File
More than 9000 Rotorua households changed power companies in the year to May. Photo/File

More than 9000 Rotorua households changed power companies in the year to May - as residents look to get the best possible deal.

Data from the Electricity Authority from May 1, 2015 to May 31, 2016 revealed 9192 Rotorua customers switched, compared with 9074 in 2014.

That's 32 per cent of Rotorua households with estimated average savings available of $203 per household.

Electricty Authority chief executive Carl Hansen said it was great so many Rotorua consumers explored their options.

"The New Zealand electricity market is very competitive. There are a wide range of deals and plans available to suit different families and lifestyles.

"I encourage all consumers to shop around."


As at the end of May, there were 27,000 residential installation control points in Rotorua on the Unison network.

Installation control points are a physical point of connection on a local network, or an embedded network, that the distributor nominates as the point at which a retailer will be deemed to supply electricity to a consumer.

Figures show Trustpower gained 640 and lost 1146 ICPs; Energy Online, a subsidiary of Genesis Energy, gained 1087 and lost 819 and Globug, owned by Mighty River Power, gained 1196 and lost 750.

Trustpower commercial operations general manager Chris O'Hara said the figures were a sign of increased competition in the market.

Mr O'Hara said this was driven by the increasing number of retailers, and increasing acquisition activity amongst larger retailers in response to this.

"For Trustpower, due to our market share in Rotorua a number of losses is to be expected, but we pride ourselves on our customer service."

Nationally, Trustpower picked up 16,943 ICPs, "so the 500 net losses in the context of our near 280,000 ICPs is very small", he said.

Read more:
Switching not always best option

Genesis Energy and Energy Online public affairs manager Richard Gordon said the market was "extremely competitive", with more than 30 retailers across New Zealand offering electricity.

He said it was competitive, not just on price, but service as well and there was a lot of choice for consumers.

"We've been offering our customers some interesting ways of buying electricity and gas."

Mr Gordon said in Rotorua his company had offered good deals, had been competing and offering new digital services. They had also recently signed up a school to join their Schoolgen programme.

Globug did not reply to requests for comment.

Citizens Advice Bureau Rotorua manager Jane Eynon-Richards said in the 2015/16 financial year the service had 87 inquiries about electricity, whether to change to a different company and help with using pre-paid power companies.

She said this compared to 84 in the 2014/15 financial year.

Things for people to look out for when deciding to change were whether they had signed up to a fixed term with their current provider and whether there would be a penalty or fee to break the contract, she said.

Sometimes the new power company offered to pay any early end fee.

"They need to be assured that if they change the new company will take responsibility for doing all the paperwork around the change, and that the transition from one company to the next is seamless."

She said if people were on both gas and electricity, it was a good idea to have the same provider for both, so they only received one account per month.

Rotorua Budget Advisory Service adviser Pearl Pavitt said she had always encouraged people to be aware of their power use and to consider switching companies if they found one that offered better terms.

Mrs Pavitt said there were people who stayed with companies out of loyalty, but sometimes they had to decide if you would be better off switching.

She said it was also quite easy for people to get lured in, as some companies employed door knockers or cold callers.

Te Runanganui O Te Arawa Budget Advisory Service budget service co-ordinator Kelly Te Ngahue said the service often had people asking for advice around switching power companies, though every whanau and individual were different.

"Every year around the colder months we see an increase of clients wanting advice on power companies.

"It's about preparation and having a good understanding about your current power supplier."

Ms Te Ngahue said an adverse credit history could stop people from changing companies, resulting in the only option being a prepaid system.

"Electricity is a significant cost to any household now that we are in the colder months.

"Shopping around for the best supplier makes good sense for you, your whanau and your pockets."

New Zealand households overpaid for power by more than $300 million in 2015 by not switching to the cheapest electricity deal available, according to the Electricity Authority.

Bay of Plenty households stood to save the most at an average of $331 per household.

Tips for switching:

■ To check your options visit www.whatsmynumber.org.nz and www.powerswitch.org.nz
■ It is free and only takes two minutes for people to check your options
■ Check whether there would be a penalty or fee to break the current contract
■ Try to find out when the new company last put up their rates
■ Include loyalty discounts and prompt payment discounts in any equations for working out which company is cheaper.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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