10 Jun 2022

UK-founded power company enters electricity market with smart technology

6:41 am on 10 June 2022

An overseas player has entered the country's retail electricity market, with the hope of luring electric vehicle owners.

Power supply for electric car charging.  Electric car charging station. Close up of the power supply plugged into an electric car being charged.

Photo: 123RF

UK-founded Octopus Energy said it's aiming to take advantage of the high levels of smart meters in the country by using smart tech, and will offer heavily discounted night rates that are half the price of peak rates.

It will also offer a separate off-peak rates that are in between.

The company is majority owned by its British parent Octopus Group, with recent investment from Australia's Origin Energy and Japan's Tokyo Gas.

Octopus local chief customer officer Margaret Cooney said in a few months time it will launch a plan specifically for EV's, using smart technology developed by the company.

"What a customer does is they set their preferences around when they want their EV charged, they plug it in when they arrive home and we take care of charging that at the cheapest time on the grid, taking into account what's happening in the market.

"In return, our customers get really great rate for charging their EV's," Cooney said.

Octopus' local chief customer officer Margaret Cooney

Octopus' local chief customer officer Margaret Cooney. Photo: Supplied / Steve Montgomery

Octopus said it will also offer the country's best solar buy-back rate, at 17 cents per kilowatt hour excluding GST, and won't have daily fixed charges for low users.

It was also guaranteeing customers will spend less money on power in their first year compared to their previous retailer. If they failed to meet the guarantee the company would credit the difference and add in $50.

Octopus said it will not offer wholesale based plans, saying it's the company's job to deal with the wholesale electricity market's volatility, and is entering into hedge arrangements with mainly renewable generators.

Octopus Energy was founded in the UK in 2016 and has more than 3.5 million customers across nine countries.

In the UK the company is known for providing its customers with electricity from 100 percent renewable sources. This was not possible in New Zealand as local electricity retailers use the national grid system, which is not 100 renewable.

Cooney said Octopus is in New Zealand for the long haul, and did not rule out branching out into power generation.

"At the moment we're focused on retail but we're open to opportunities so we'll consider them as they present themselves."

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