The final Electricity Price Review recommended prohibiting prompt payment discounts but allowing “reasonable” late fees. The findings of this review was welcomed by the Coalition Government, but they hope companies will follow through with its recommendations without regulations needed to be passed.
Meridian Energy had already stopped prompt payment discounts, with their chief executive Neal Barclay accepting that these were unfair on the poor. When the power company did this it handed $5 million back to consumers, and the Coalition Government expects other companies to follow suit.
This review was agreed in New Zealand First’s Coalition Agreement with the Labour Party in 2017, and is a response to residential prices for power rising by 48 per cent since 2000 – faster than other OECD countries.
Work will "start immediately" on setting mandatory minimum standards to protect vulnerable and medically dependent consumers, as recommended in the review. Officials will also start developing "statistical indicators of energy hardship" to assist in measuring and tracking it over time and assess the measures taken to help people.
To strengthen competition in the sector, the Government expects the Electricity Authority - an independent agency - to make it easier for customers to request consumption data.
That could make it easier for new retailers to enter the market because customers might want to seek a better deal if they can see they're being ripped off.
The Electricity Authority will examine the security and resilience of electricity supply, and the Government will ask them to report back on its solutions within 18 months.