And their customer service may outshine established retailers. In our last energy providers survey, the big five all rated below-average for customer satisfaction. Smaller retailers consistently rate above-average in the survey and have low customer churn, with Flick Electric Co. achieving an overall satisfaction rate of 96% in 2015.
Electric Kiwi (878% growth in 2016, 5901 new customers in 2016) offers a flat rate but lets you nominate an hour of free power each day during off-peak times (9am to 5pm and 9pm to 7am). Chief executive Luke Blincoe says Electric Kiwi won’t raise prices this year. It guarantees you’ll save in your first year compared with your previous retailer or it will credit you the remainder. Customer service is email- and livechat-only. Available throughout New Zealand as long as you have a smart meter. No fixed-term contracts or break fees.
Ecotricity (494% growth in 2016, 780 new customers in 2016). A “carbonZero certified” electricity retailer, meaning it offsets all carbon emissions from its operation by investing in renewable energy and electric vehicles. It also only enters into contracts with generators of renewable energy. Unlike many smaller retailers, Ecotricity will buy back power from grid-tied solar PV systems. Its solar buyback rates are comparable to the big five retailers (approximately 7¢/kWh). Offers contracts with a 3-year energy price freeze. Available throughout New Zealand as long as you have a smart meter.
Wise prepay energy (859% growth in 2016, 1908 new customers in 2016). A prepaid electricity service requiring no deposit, credit check or fixed contract. Aimed at those who have been disconnected by other powercos. If your balance hits $0 your lights will go off that same day. Offers a customer-only app to monitor your balance, power consumption and top-up your account. Has traditional low and standard user flat rate plans. Available in Auckland, Hamilton, Hawke’s Bay and Wellington as long as you have a smart meter.
P2 SolarShare (156% growth in 2016, 78 new customers in 2016). New Zealand’s only “peer-to-peer” energy provider. Attracts customers with grid-tied solar PV systems with significantly higher buyback rates for their surplus energy than other retailers (16c/kWh vs around 7 to 8¢/kWh for other retailers). Offers its non-solar customers cheaper power when solar customers are feeding surplus energy back into the grid (14¢/kWh vs 18¢/kWh for grid power when no solar is available). Allows you to support solar if you’re a renter or otherwise lack the ability to invest in a system. Guarantees 7% of your power will be charged at the lower solar rate, but only during summer. No fixed term contracts or break fees. Only available on Auckland’s Vector network.
Electra Energy (99% growth in 2016, 499 new customers in 2016). Operated by Kapiti-Horowhenua lines company Electra and only services customers in that region on the Electra network. Offers a fairly standard suite of fixed and day/night tariffs. Customer-owned with profits going back into the community. No smart meter required.
megaENERGY (37% growth in 2016, 985 new customers in 2016). Services the Auckland region with a standard suite of fixed rate plans. Targeted at the Asian market with customer support in Korean, Chinese and English. Bundled landline, broadband, mobile and TV streaming plans, in addition to electricity, are available from parent company megaTEL. Offers free smart meter upgrades.
Payless Energy (27% growth in 2016, 142 new customers in 2016). Dunedin-based retailer catering to residential and industrial customers throughout Otago and Nelson, and currently expanding into Southland. Offers traditional, though competitively priced flat rate and day/night plans. No fixed-term contracts. No smart meter required.
Pulse Energy (5% growth in 2016, 2867 new customers in 2016). Community-owned retailer offering electricity and gas (both natural and LPG) nationwide. Offers a plan with a commitment not to increase your bill at greater than an agreed fixed rate for 3 years. 30-day notice required before switching but no contract break fees. Pulse also operates Grey Power Electricity, available to members of Grey Power.
Note: Property Power and Pacific Energy Alliance (formerly Body Corporate Power) also experienced strong growth in 2016, but these retailers serve customers in apartment complexes who often have no choice but using this retailer. Developers defend these arrangements on the basis they can use their buying power to get good deals. But we’ve raised concerns about these arrangements in the past as they deny owners the opportunity to choose retailers for reasons other than price.