The Electricity Authority is to force major electricity companies to pay compensation during what are known as power supply dry periods.
In the past, the companies have dealt with shortages by means of consumer conservation programmes.
Now the authority says they will have to pay compensation of $10.50 a week to 1.8 million customers in any future electricity crisis.
It says that will be an incentive for the companies to find other ways of dealing with the situation, such as actively using commercial arrangements to manage dry-year risks.
The authority says customers have been asked to save power during public conservation campaigns three times in the past decade and have not been compensated for those savings.
The lobby group Greypower says, however, that people will be no better off financially, because the companies could simply raise prices to cover the cost of compensation
The scheme will apply from next month.