||This article appears to be written like an advertisement. (December 2011)|
|Headquarters||Wellington, New Zealand|
|Area served||Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Rotorua, Taupo, Napier, New Plymouth, Wanganui, Palmerston North, Wairarapa, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Queenstown, Invercargill|
|Founder(s)||Ari Sargent, Simon Coley|
|Key people||Ari Sargent, CEO|
|Products||Electricity, gas (planned)|
|Slogan(s)||Same power, different attitude|
Powershop is an online electricity retailer that is known for revolutionising the way people interact with their power company. Powershop is a 51% New Zealand state-owned enterprise and claims to be the first electricity company in the world where consumers can choose between different brands of electrical power listed on the website and switch between them with the click of a button. Different brands of power may offer lower prices, sponsorships or environmental benefits. Users can either let the system automatically buy power from the cheapest supplier, or log in regularly to take advantage of specials. Powershop initially claimed it would always be the cheapest company for the "typical" consumer in New Zealand. This claim was later dropped.
Powershop was found to be the cheapest electricity retailer for the typical consumer in the main centers by the Ministry of Economic Development. It was the best company in Consumers' Institute of New Zealand's 2011 survey of electricity companies. 96% of Powershop customers found it 'good' or 'very good'. Powershop was rated 96% again in 2012.
Meridian traditionally had been a major electricity generator, but only a small retailer. In 2006, Ari Sargent, an electricity industry veteran, had an idea to increase Meridian's market share in the retail market: turn electricity from a utility into a consumer good. Initially, it was planned to sell electricity tokens in supermarkets, but that idea was scrapped due to cost and they turned the idea to the Internet.
Sargent, together with Simon Coley, a design specialist, founded Powershop in September 2007. In September 2008, Powershop bought its predecessor, Meridian Energy's Marketplace Innovations Business Unit, for NZ$1.26 million in stock. After 14 months of private beta, it officially launched to the public on 22 February 2009 and was unofficially available in the weeks prior.
Once a user signs up to Powershop, there is no need for them to visit the Powershop website anymore. Powershop will buy the cheapest "Everyday" electricity for them automatically. However, users that do visit the Powershop website can take advantage of the "Specials" and "Powerpacks" that are on offer from time to time.
Powershop will read the electricity meter once a month, but users are encouraged to read the meter themselves more often to understand their power usage more. Graphs and charts of power usage are provided to the customer. (2014-03-04 'Smart' meters seem to be read daily, and provide usage figures each half hour.)
All power buying must be performed via their website and payment made by credit card, direct debit or online banking. Phone, Skype and Twitter support are available. Customers can also credit their account at PostShops. As a launch promotion, a signup pack was sold at The Warehouse.
There are three main types of products:
- Everyday - can be used immediately, valid for 2–3 months, sold in blocks of 1 kWh.
- Powerpacks - electricity futures that must be used later.
- Specials - Sold in blocks of approximately one week's usage. Limited quantity available.
Prices for power are given as a single cents per kilowatt-hour, and are customised to the customer based on their location, metering configuration, usage and time of year. There are no separate tariffs for separate meters, with the single price per unit adjusting based on the types of meters at the property (anytime, controlled, day/night, etc.), and the usage on each meter (e.g. a cheaper price will be offered if more electricity is consumed on controlled or night). There are no separate fixed daily charges, with the daily charges charged by Transpower and local lines companies to connect the property to the national grid incorporated into the single price per unit, meaning low-use customers will pay more per unit to cover these charges.
In contrast with fixed year-round price or split winter/summer prices charged by regular New Zealand power retailers, electricity prices on Powershop vary month-to-month with seasonal variations in the wholesale electricity price, meaning customers generally pay less per unit during spring and summer and more during autumn and winter. This does have the unfortunate consequence that customers will have to pay more per unit if there is an electricity shortage, such as years with low hydro lake levels or a failure in a major piece of electricity infrastructure, whereas a company charging fixed prices can mostly absorb the costs of these shocks from the extra money earned over summer.
Currently, there are several brands of power available on Powershop.
- Standard Power - Powershop bulk standard electricity (Everyday and Powerpacks) Powershop also offer specials during holidays.
One cent per unit will be donated to the rugby team. Rebadged Powershop.
- Crusaders (Powerpacks nationwide with chance to win a signed jersey, Everyday at Christchurch)
- Otago Rugby (Only available as Everyday at Dunedin)
Meridian is a state owned enterprise, the parent company of Powershop.
- Meridian - CarboNZero certified carbon neutral electricity by Meridian Energy (Everyday and Specials)
- Meridian Crimson - CarboNZero certified carbon neutral electricity, with pohutukawa and rata conservation sponsorship (Everyday only)
PowerKiwi is a new power company started by a group of New Zealand bloggers. Currently, they buy electricity wholesale from Powershop.
- Flower Power - cheap power "you can be happy with" (Everyday and Specials)
- The Green Power Company - Voluntary Carbon Standard carbon offseted electricity (Everyday only)
- Tree Power - a tree is planted for every 30 kWh purchased (Everyday only)
Airshed is a specialist carbon management company.
- Airshed Energy - CDM Gold Standard carbon offseted electricity (Everyday only)
- Airshed Energy for Business - CDM Gold Standard carbon offseted electricity pre-approved by CarboNZero (Everyday only)
All customers with a normal non-prepay electricity meter and an internet connection can join Powershop, no special equipment is needed. For maximum effectiveness, customers have to read their power meter often and enter the readings into the website. This can be annoying. Powershop will automatically get readings from customers with smart meters, but only for customers who already have one. It will not install smart meters for customers. Customers with Arc Innovation brand smart meters can get their readings updated daily. All customers in Christchurch with a smart meter receives a rebate of 5c/unit (a discount of around 20%) for power used in weekends.
Powershop planned on 4-50,000 customers in its first year. Powershop achieved 5000 customers in October 2009, and 10000 customers in February 2010. CEO Ari Sargent blamed this on inertia and general distrust of power companies. Energy expert Molly Melhuish claims that because "people are so terrified of their power bills", "a majority of people" wouldn't want to try a new concept like Powershop. The Consumers' Institute of New Zealand welcomes initiatives to increase retail power competition.
In a survey by the Ministry of Economic Development, Powershop was found to be the cheapest electricity retailer for the typical consumer (one who consumes 8000kWh/year) in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Manawatu and New Plymouth. It is the second cheapest in Wanganui and Wairarapa.
In Consumers' Institute of New Zealand's 2009 survey of electricity companies, Powershop gained the highest rating ever in the history of the survey. 92% of Powershop customers found it 'good' or 'very good'. It did not receive a single poor rating from any of its customers. In 2010, it again received a 92% satisfaction rating. In 2011 and again in 2012, it gained a 96% customer satisfaction rating.
- Du Chateau, Carroll (2012-11-01). "CEOs Uncovered 2012: Generally electric". Unlimited. Retrieved 2012-11-01.
- "Better power deal just a click away". TVNZ. 18 February 2009.
- Churchouse, Nick (2 October 2009). "Powershop shown to be the cheapest". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
- Quarterly Survey of Domestic Electricity Prices: Updated to 15 August 2009
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- http://www.electricitycommission.govt.nz/pdfs/opdev/retail/regstats/regstatspdfs/percenticps/Oct09-Appendix1.html ICP per retailer October 09 - Electricity Commission
- Juha Saarinen (17 February 2009). "Website plans to disrupt the power supply market". NZ Herald.
- Powershop website
- Powershop on Twitter
- Harvey, Sarah (2009-05-12). "Generator encouraged to look at local sales". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved 2009-05-12.
- "This Way Up: Powershop". Radio NZ. 21 February 2009.
- Gorman, Paul (24 August 2009). "Power deal chops 20pc off prices". The Press. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
- "Slow take-up to Powershop services". NZ Herald. 26 March 2009.
- "New power company promises no contracts, no line charges and no hassle". Campbell Live. TV3. 2009-04-20. Retrieved 2009-04-20.
- "New way to buy power". Consumers' Institute of New Zealand. 2009-02-25. Retrieved 2009-06-10.
- Stuff:Powershop shown to be the cheapest
- "Gay billboard complaint rejected". 3 News NZ. January 10, 2012.