Liam Butler interviews Carl Hansen Chief Executive of the Electricity Authority
Carl, the Electricity Authority has found that people aged 60 years and over are the least likely to switch electricity providers.Â How much money can older people save by switching and who can help them with this?
Â Carl Hansen:Â The New Zealand electricity market is very competitive, and we encourage all consumers to shop around. There are more electricity retail brands in the market than ever before, and there are a wide range of deals and plans available to suit different families and lifestyles.
Our research does show, however, that older New Zealanders (the over 60s) are the least likely to switch electricity providers, and so many could be missing out on a better deal.
There are good savings to be achieved by switching retailers. Last year, if all eligible Kiwi households had switched to the cheapest electricity provider they could have collectively saved $281 million, or an average annual saving of $162. The other major reason why we encourage people to regularly check they are on the best electricity deal is that it helps keep competitive pressure on the retailers.
The actual switching process is very straightforward. In fact according to our research, 90% of New Zealanders who have switched found it to be an easy or very easy process.
All you need to do is to head to www.whatsmynumber.co.nz where you can check if you are on the best deal. If you identify an option you are interested in, simply click on through to Consumer NZâ€™s www.powerswitch.org.nz, to start the switching process. You can undertake the switching process online, or contact the provider directly and they will sort it for you over the phone.
If you are not confident using a computer, perhaps you could ask a member of your family or one of your friends to help you, or to punch in your details for you.
Alternatively you can visit your local Citizenâ€™s Advice Bureau. CAB staff have been trained to use the www.whatsmynumber.org.nz and www.powerswitch.org.nz websites and assist people to switch electricity providers if they want to. People can call 0800 FOR CAB (0800 367 222), or pop into their local Citizens Advice Bureau branch.
You donâ€™t necessarily need to switch electricity providers if you donâ€™t want to. If you prefer, you can simply call your current provider on the telephone, and negotiate a better deal with them. There are a total of 29 retail electricity brands operating in New Zealand with at least seven different brands on offer in every region. All providers offer different deals to suit different people. When you look at the options available youâ€™ll see there are also additional services, loyalty programmes, and other rewards to consider.
Itâ€™s important to realise that the choice of retailer makes no difference to the reliability of your electricity supply â€“ those outcomes are affected by the performance of the local distribution network and by Transpower.Â The electricity supply to your home stays the same regardless of which retailer you choose.