A surge of new electricity retailers is offering serious savings and consumers are laughing all the way to the bank. But can it last?

Contact Energy executives based at its Wellington headquarters could be forgiven for taking the long way home. In January 2016, Flick Electric Co. put up a billboard that for the following year loomed above one of the main routes south from Contact HQ. Since the ad appeared, Flick has doubled its market share to more than 19,000 connections, while Contact saw no growth in its 365,000-strong customer base.

Flick’s growth is the biggest of any of the new, independent power companies. But it’s not the fastest. That title goes to Paua to the People, a Wellington-based retailer that grew by nearly 5000% in 2016. However, it started with just 13 households, so that staggering growth only nets it 537 connections.

It’s not just Flick and Paua to the People poaching customers from established powercos. According to the Electricity Authority, 29 “small- to medium-sized electricity retailers”, defined as everyone except the big five (Genesis, Contact, Mercury, Meridian and Trustpower), won 50,000 new customers in 2016. Meanwhile Trustpower, the fastest-growing incumbent, achieved 11% connection growth after diversifying into bundled broadband, power and phone services. New Zealand’s biggest retailer, Genesis Energy, returned the worst performance, dropping more than 14,000 customers.