The Blog

We’re walking the walk - Steve O'Connor

Holding the big guys to account on wholesale electricity prices.

A couple of weeks back we put a stake in the ground, saying that we would take on the big guys and fight for a better electricity market for New Zealand energy consumers.

Yesterday we lodged a claim with the Electricity Authority, asking them to review price conditions since mid-September. We think the wholesale prices we have seen are much higher than the cost of making electricity justifies, and someone needs to ask the hard questions about this.

We’re not alone in thinking something has been amiss - Electric Kiwi, Vocus, Pulse and Vector have all joined us in making this claim to the Electricity Authority (we’re calling ourselves ‘The Rebel Alliance’ 😂). Together we represent 148,000 Kiwi customers, and we’re asking these questions on their behalf.

Our claim sets out a number of actions we believe the Authority should take so the generation market operates better, and retailers like us, who are trying to create fair, innovative, transparent products for consumers, can keep doing this.

We have already seen one independent retailer fold as a result of current market conditions. Payless Energy had been serving Dunedin for more than seven years. It is a bad outcome for energy consumers when a good, competitively priced, independent retailer has to exit the market.

If there aren’t independent retailers in the marketplace, there won’t be innovation, there won’t be true consumer choice, and there won’t be downward pressure on prices.

The most important things we’re asking for are:

  • Electricity prices since 15 September to be set at a more reasonable level (they have the power to retrospectively reset prices);
  • Large generators being required to offer hedge contracts on fair terms, and also limits on how high they can price power
  • Electricity generators to comply with their responsibilities to disclose important information to everyone in the market; and
  • Better monitoring of the market, especially gas supply.

The media have been very interested in what we’re saying. If you want to follow the story in more detail, have a read, watch and listen of The Spinoff, NZ Herald, Stuff, Newshub, Morning Report and Nine to Noon.

If you’re a Flickster reading this, a big thanks from all of us for your support in these tough times. Our team love getting your messages and are working hard to get the answers you deserve.