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Growing Consumer Power

Hon Max Bradford Minister for Enterprise and Commerce

MEDIA RELEASE

September 19, 1999

Sixty per cent of households now have a choice of electricity retailer up from 51 per cent in May, Enterprise and Commerce Minister Max Bradford announced today.

In addition, 62 per cent of households can now pay less for their electricity than in April 1998, up from 56 per cent, he said.

The steady increase in consumer choice was highlighted in a revised Schedule of Domestic Electricity Prices issued this afternoon by the Ministry of Commerce.

Mr Bradford said he was delighted that competition for the household consumer was continuing to spread throughout the country as a result of the electricity reforms.

'An increasing number of households can, if they choose their cheapest available supplier, pay less now than they would have done in April 1998, when the reforms were announced.

The latest Ministry of Commerce information shows that at 15 August 1999:

­ 60 per cent of households now have a choice of supplier - up from 51 per cent as at 15 May 1999; and

­ allowing for some households that do not have choice, but whose tariffs have reduced, 62 per cent of households can now pay less for their electricity than April 1998 when the reforms were announced ' this compares with 56 per cent as at 15 May 1999.

Mr Bradford said the recent entry of Fresh Start into the Taranaki, Manawatu and Wairarapa areas was further evidence that retail competition was spreading.

'The joining forces of Meridian Energy with SKY Television in a power supply offer to attract new customers is an innovative approach to electricity retailing.

'I have no doubt that the future will see more creative deals being put together by suppliers in their competition for the household consumer.

'Of course, it is very much up to consumers to exercise their choice. This is the best way that they can ensure that they will get lower prices now and in the future.

'The Consumer PowerSwitch information service provided by the Consumers' Institute provides an excellent way for domestic electricity consumers to check the best deal available to them.'

The service is available free over the Institute's Website, www.consumer.org.nz, or through an 0900 telephone service, 0900 POWERSWITCH (0900 76 9370).

'I encourage consumers to use this service,' Mr Bradford said.

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