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Help To Find The Cheapest Power Deal

Hon Max Bradford
Minister for Enterprise and Commerce

MEDIA RELEASE
June 22, 1999
Help To Find The Cheapest Power Deal

Help is on the way for consumers trying to get the cheapest power deal, Enterprise and Commerce Minister Max Bradford announced today.

Mr Bradford announced that the Consumers' Institute had won the contract to establish an electricity consumers' information service.

The service, which will be called Consumer PowerSwitch, will be launched on 29th July and will operate until at least 31 December 2000.

Information will be available through the internet and by phone.

Consumers using the service will be asked to submit specific information relating to their location and electricity usage.

A calculator will automatically determine the 'best retailer' based on the information provided. The calculation will not be based solely on price. Other considerations, such as tariffs and onerous terms and conditions in contracts will be made clear to consumers.

Consumers will receive a list of competing retailers, sorted from most expensive to least expensive.

Where there is no competition between electricity retailers, consumers will be able to obtain information about the different ways in which power prices are structured and how the consumers can use different power price options in their area to minimise their power bill.

Mr Bradford said the new service would help many consumers exercise the greater choice of retailer provided by the power reforms.

Through having better information, consumers could play a stronger role in keeping power prices down by forcing retailers to remain competitive.

"Under the reforms 55 per cent or almost one million electricity consumers are paying or, through switching companies, can pay lower power prices than they were paying a year ago.

"This service will make switching easier and in doing so help consumers have more in the bank at the end of the week."

Consumers' Institute chief executive David Russell said today he was absolutely delighted to be in a position to offer this service to consumers in New Zealand.

There will be a small cost recovery charge for non-internet users, however the institute is discussing with Citizens Advice Bureau the possibility of consumers obtaining information through their local CAB.

The cost of establishing the service is $70,000 (excluding GST), $50,000 of which is being contributed by the Ministry of Commerce.

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