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Mercury encourages joined-up response to energy plans

Mercury encourages joined-up response to Government’s energy initiatives

03 October 2019 – Mercury will work with all participants in the electricity sector to support the outcomes sought by the Electricity Price Review (EPR).

The Government today announced a range of initiatives, and outlined a plan for action in different areas, in response to recommendations from the independent review.

Mercury’s retail and digital general manager, Kevin Angland, said that one of the challenges of such reviews, and initiatives that follow, is that parties retreat to their corners and fight on narrow interests.

“While views on how to sustainably achieve the outcomes highlighted in the review differ in some areas, Mercury will continue to embrace the intent driving the initiatives and work towards delivering better outcomes for all New Zealand households,” Mr Angland said.

“We will closely review the range of actions outlined by the Government to see how we can continue to contribute our knowledge and expertise to achieve the best balance of outcomes. We will also continue to engage with agencies directly involved in implementing or overseeing certain actions, such as the Electricity Authority and the Commerce Commission, along with communities and our customers so that the sector’s status as one that is highly regarded globally, is sustained and enhanced.”

In summary:

we support the establishment of a consumer advisory council, noting that consumers are at the heart of all electricity retailers’ operations and that retailers can and should constructively contribute to such a group;
we support a cross sector energy hardship group, as energy hardship is, from our experience, most often a symptom of other challenges within households that requires a broad, multi-agency and even community response;
we are pleased that action has been signalled to phase out low fixed charge tariffs, the shortcomings of which are acknowledged by the Government in its response to EPR recommendations;
we support transparent standards to protect vulnerable and medically dependent consumers, and we will always seek to exceed minimum standards using the insights and experience we have through being active in communities who work day-to-day with these consumers;
we embrace competition and agree that there are benefits to consumers through it, noting smaller retailers seeking “an even playing field” will also have to step up how they support vulnerable customers;
· we support transparency on costs for consumers as well as the need for fees to be cost reflective. We have invested millions over recent years in technology to give customers that greater visibility of their cost and how to best manage their electricity usage, and will always review our offers so that vulnerable consumers are not excluded from accessing the best deals;

we welcome the directive to the gas industry to work with the Electricity Authority to close gaps in information disclosure and improve transparency;
a well-functioning electricity sector with a stable regulatory environment is crucial for ongoing investment in renewable electricity generation that can and will displace the use of fossil fuels, so we support the direction that has been given for a Government Policy Statement to guide the Electricity Authority and the Commerce Commission to facilitate alternative models and initiatives that support a low-carbon future.

“Mercury has been working consistently and over a long period to distinguish itself in how it serves and supports all of its customers. We will apply that lens to our approach to these initiatives,” Mr Angland said.

Ends.

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