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Electricity Authority targets SMEs in power saving campaign

Wednesday 11th April 2012

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Small and medium-sized businesses will be able to put their annual electricity consumption out to tender for the best price under the next phase of the Electricity Authority’s award-winning “What’s My Number?” campaign to encourage competition among energy retailers.

The government body responsible for regulating the electricity market, will start targeting small and medium sized businesses in June with the new online tool.

“We want to embed a focus that customers will shop around,” said Carl Hansen, the authority’s chief executive. “We are working on a tool and when we are ready to demo we will start working directly with electricity retailers.”

“Some retailers will be keener than others but if you are losing customers you will have to respond,” Hansen said.

The tool will revolve around SMEs a tender process set up by the authority.

Business owners will be able to input information about their electricity consumption on the ‘What’s My Number?’ website, which will then be sent to all participating retailers, providing them with the opportunity to ‘bid’ for the businesses power supply.

The results will be compiled within 14 days so that business owner can choose the best deal.

The authority has received $10.5 million from the government for the campaign, which is scheduled to run until April 2014. Hansen said the shift towards targeting SMEs wouldn’t affect the residential side of the campaign, which will still continue to receive the same level of funding.

The ‘What’s My Number?’ campaign targeting residential customers pushed monthly average numbers of customers switching their electricity retailer to above 30,000 a month, and produced major cuts in tariffs and special offers from previously high-priced electricity retailers.

Contact Energy, for example, introduced a 22 percent discount for customers paying online and on time, to achieve a highly competitive rating in the “What’s My Number?” rankings, in a move believed to be costing it around $15 million annually in lost revenue.

The projected annual savings from increased switching from June to December 2011 was about $8.7 million, the EA estimates. The campaign has also cut the number of days it takes for a customer to consider swapping electricity providers to 4.5 days, from 200 days previously.

Part of the campaign’s success came from revealing widely that electricity retailer switching is now a simple, short process, in contrast to consumers’ belief it was slow and unreliable.

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