5 Mar 2015

Energy analysts advise shopping around

5:54 am on 5 March 2015

Consumer advocates say tit is worth shopping around for electricity despite a seeming preference among New Zealanders to let retailers come to them.

power pylons

Photo: 123RF

The Electricity Authority's survey on consumer switching behaviour shows only 35 percent of consumers would proactively approach power retailers.

Consumers spoken to by Radio New Zealand said they had checked out the savings they could make by switching providers, but did not believe the savings were worth it.

It comes as no surprise to Electricity Authority chief executive Carl Hansen that consumers are waiting for the power companies to come to them.

He said it was a sign of a competitive market and that electricity was just like any other service where people remained with the same provider because it was easiest.

Consumer New Zealand's Sue Chetwin believes it is still worth people having a look at their options, especially with so many retailers out there.

She said the market could be more competitive still, with the big five electricity companies still dominating the minnows.

The Electricity Authority has invested heavily in their "what's my number" marketing campaign, resulting in more than 1.4 million people switching companies since it began in 2011.

Energy analyst Molly Melhuish questioned whether it had been worth it, pointing to the survey showing people are not actually acting on the advice to shop around.

She said switching was being driven by companies, not consumers, which costs the companies money.

Ms Melhuish feared they then passed on that cost to their customers.

The Electricity Authority's Carl Hansen insisted the campaign had helped bring prices down and increased competition.

The "what's my number" campaign hits TV screens again on Sunday to remind people to at least think about shopping around.