There is a new name in electricity retailing, promising to give it to you straight.
Frank Energy tells its potential customers that there are no contracts or discounts or what it calls "gimmicks, fluff or guff".
"We believe in selling it to you straight. That's being frank."
Exactly who is behind the company was initially opaque for the uninitiated, simply referring to a rebrand of Energy Online.
Prior to the Herald asking questions, Frank's website failed to mention that it was owned by Genesis Energy, a company 51 per cent owned by the Government with roughly, 500,000 customers, more than any other company.
A spokeswoman for the owner of the Huntly Power Station said Frank does not mention its ownership because it did not see the need to do so.
"We wanted to keep the website as straightforward as possible for customers," the spokeswoman said.
Initially, Genesis made a strangely circular promise: "If customers tell us they would like to know that Frank is owned by Genesis ... we'd be happy to include that information on Frank's website." How would they tell Genesis that unless they already knew?
By Monday, though, Frank decided it would, indeed, be frank, adding that it was "proudly powered by Genesis" on its website.
"We felt it was the right approach given Frank's name and ethos about being upfront," a spokeswoman said.
Almost all of the major electricity retailers, and New Zealand's biggest petrol company, do this.
Powershop, which created headlines for its edgy advertising, is part of Meridian Energy another majority state owned generator. In Australia, Powershop is being sold to oil giant Shell, which is reportedly leading to customer unrest.
Globug is part of Mercury (the company that is in the process of buying the retail customers of Trustpower).
Flick Electric, once a Wellington start-up which allowed customers to play the wholesale market, is majority owned by Z Energy, New Zealand's largest motor fuel retailer (which itself is in the process of being taken over by an Australian fuel giant, Ampol).
Electric Kiwi, another retail electricity brand, says the strategy is one of cynicism.
"They know their brands are old and tired (which is true) or just not very consumer friendly. So they think creating or buying smaller, newer, fresh-looking brands, talking about keeping things simple and throwing a few asterisks around in swear words will change perceptions of them."
Whether this is the case or not, we should not be surprised that it is Electric Kiwi delivering the message.
Describing itself as a company that started up as "three friends who wanted to shake up the power industry", Electric Kiwi has won consumer awards, but gathered far more attention for its attacks on its rivals.
In 2020 it successfully forced a Meridian advertisement to be pulled off air after convincing the Advertising Standards Authority. While Meridian is by far New Zealand's largest generator of renewable energy, the ASA decision found it cannot reasonably claim that the electricity it sells to customers is cleaner than anyone elses, as what comes down the lines cannot be traced back to a particular generator.
Electric Kiwi has also complained bitterly about events in the wholesale electricity market, and to the Energy Minister about the collateral its larger rivals were demanding for hedge contracts.
Is it quite what it seems?
Electric Kiwi (and its holding company, The Energy Collective) might have been founded by three friends from Whakatane. But it is majority owned by Peter Brewer and Stephen Brosnan, two UK-based founders of what was Cumulus, a hedge fund that used weather forecasts to make energy market trades. At one time Cumulus reportedly managed billions of dollars.
Electric Kiwi chief executive Luke Blincoe said one of the company's founders had worked at Cumulus; Brewer and Brosnan backed the company when it was started and was looking for capital. He did not see the company's ownership as being at odds with its branding.
"Until someone can tell me the exact percentage of the state-owned companies that are held overseas ... I'm certain that there is more foreign investment in Genesis than Electric Kiwi."
The backing has allowed the Energy Collective to also launch in Australia (as Re Amped, which now has 55,000 customers compared to Electric Kiwi's 70,000) and Blincoe said it is investigating launching in two Northern Hemisphere markets.
In New Zealand, the collective also owns Haast Energy Trading, which describes itself as "a boutique trading firm with a focus on wholesale electricity and gas markets in the Asia-Pacific region".
Electric Kiwi's rivals which it is so quick to criticise say Haast makes money speculating in the very wholesale market which its sister company so often complains about.
The state of the wholesale market may not be the fault of Haast, and The Energy Collective's growth internationally should be celebrated. But, frankly, the story that Electric Kiwi is just a few friends being played by the giants is a stretch.