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Progress toward improving information on consumers’ bills

Progress toward improving information on consumers’ electricity bills

The Electricity Authority’s Retail Advisory Group (RAG) is in the final stages of a review of information on electricity bills, which includes the issue of whether lines charges should be separately itemised on bills. The review has been underway since April 2013.

The RAG provides independent advice to the Authority Board, has an independent Chair, and includes consumer and industry representatives.

It issued a consultation paper on this topic in July 2013. Following submissions, research was conducted to ensure the views of consumers were heard and understood. The consumer research, conducted by UMR Research, included six face to face sessions in various locations and a quantitative survey of 1000 consumers.

The UMR survey asked consumers a range of questions, including what information they needed to understand their electricity bills, understand price changes and make choices about retailers. It also asked what channel they would prefer to receive this information through.

Carl Hansen, Chief Executive of the Authority says, "There has been recent discussion about whether electricity bills could be used as a way of showing more clearly the cost components that make up final electricity prices and, in particular, the split between the energy and lines components of the price.

"Several retailers already itemise the lines charges, and one of the issues the RAG is considering is whether to recommend making it compulsory for all retailers to do this."

The RAG will make recommendations to the Authority Board within six weeks.

The Authority is also currently working on a project to make it easier and quicker for consumers to find the best deals in the market and to make it easier for retailers and other parties to inform consumers of opportunities to switch to better deals.

The retail data project is investigating how to provide consumers with better access to both retailer prices and their own electricity consumption information. This project will also be informed by the RAG's work and UMR survey findings.

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