After surveying 1,507 New Zealanders, 17% said that they had difficulty in paying for their electric bills over the past 12 months. Consumer NZ conducted this survey between March and April this year, and as you’ll remember, NZ went into a lockdown from March to April due to the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.
The pandemic caused some economic consequences, with many households having experienced a pinch in their incomes. Now that winter has arrived, Kiwis are finding it difficult to pay their electricity bills, and having their electricity cut off became a concern.
The daunting question, especially now many Kiwis are experiencing a financial pinch: can electricity supply be cut off? Here’s what you need to know...
The Final Principles and Minimum Terms and Conditions for Domestic Contracts for Delivered Electricity of the Electricity Authority confirms that, yes, power companies can cut you off for specific reasons. However, it is not automatic. The electricity disconnection procedure considers both the consumer’s rights, and the supplier’s rights.
Power companies do not simply cut off electricity supply without notice. Electricity disconnection notice is provided to the consumer 7 to 14 working days before the disconnection. During this grace period, the consumer can still settle and negotiate with their power supplier. The power company will also provide another notice 24 hours before the actual disconnection. This time gives consumers the chance to settle their accounts, or to make further arrangements with the supplier.
Thank God It’s Friday applies to the electricity disconnection procedure. According to Electricity Authority guidelines, power companies cannot cut off your electricity supply on a Friday or a day prior to a holiday. And for all the right reasons, as it would be difficult to arrange and to negotiate on a weekend or a holiday.
In sum, yes, power companies can cut your electricity supply off. However, there is an electricity disconnection procedure that must first be followed. This procedure complies with the consumer contract and with the law. You will, and have in your right to, receive a notice of disconnection as well. Power companies will also give you sufficient information about the disconnection, giving you the opportunity to reconnect.
Communicating with your power supplier does both of you a favor. Power companies in NZ have become stricter when it comes to paying the electricity bill, as the Consumer NZ suggests that the number of power disconnections have risen since 2008. However, it doesn’t mean that NZ power companies close the door to remedies.
Providing access to remedies is a fundamental principle. If you are finding it difficult to pay your electricity bill, then best to reach out to your provider. This will give them an update on your situation, and allow them to recommend options on how you can pay the electricity bill, how to get government help, and how to reconnect.
Should you “break up” or should you stay?
Remedies and considerations apply to the COVID-19 situation, and many power companies understand financial difficulties during this period. A general rule of thumb is to simply communicate with your power supplier. Electric Kiwi and Flick Electric, for instance, recommend their consumers to reach out for assistance in paying the electricity bill.
If you need to save on power, and your current power plan isn’t the right deal, Glimp can assist. We’ll help you with comparing prices and services, so you can make the switch to a better power company in NZ.
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