Cheaper electricity prices as competition heats up
A record number of brands available for consumers are driving the price of electricity down.
The latest report by the Electricity Authority confirms 2015 was another landmark year for the residential electricity market.
Chief executive of the Electricity Authority Carl Hansen says all of the market competition measures monitored showed improvement last year.
"There are a large number of engaged consumers. This, coupled with more retailers in the market and more choice from existing retailers, is helping to create an even more competitive residential electricity market."
He says there has been a significant increase in the number of electricity options available in the regions.
At the end of December 2015, 12 of the country's 16 regions experienced an increase in the number of retail brands on offer. This compares to 24 brands backed by 15 parent companies as at December 31, 2014.
Across New Zealand there were 31 retail electricity brands available, backed by 20 parent companies.
Mr Hansen says the growth of independent retailers is driving change.
"While many of these retailers remain small, they are adding competitive pressure from the margins, which means the larger players need to keep innovating in order to maintain their market share."
And as people become aware of their options, a record number them are changing suppliers. In 2015, 417,784 customers made the switch with 384,841 of them being residential.
If customers made the change to the cheapest deal in their area, the average saving made was $175. If all Kiwis switched retailers in 2015 they could have saved a collective $307 million.
However it is not only cheaper prices on offer, retailers are being more innovative when it comes to electricity plans and payment options.
"The number of pre-pay electricity contracts has increased substantially. At the end of 2015 there 43,560 pre-pay accounts, compared with 30,804 pre-pay accounts at the end of 2014" said Mr Hansen.
Other options now available include one retailer offering a 'free hour of power', bundling electricity with gas and pay TV, spot electricity prices and a range of apps and websites to help customers manager their bills.
Mr Hansen says the number of choices mean consumers should regularly check they are on the best electricity option for their circumstances on the What's My Number website.