Power Supply NZ: What Are Your Rights As An Energy Consumer?

Date Feb 25, 2021
Blog category Power
By Sieg C
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New Zealand households need a reliable power plan for every season. As an essential utility, everyone wants consistent energy to power up all their appliances at home. 

Getting connected to the right power provider is a lot easier these days, as you can simply compare providers online and instantly find the best deal in your area. But even when you’ve finally installed the right power at home, you’re not completely free of troubles with your connection. It can be very frustrating whenever problems arise as of course, you'd want your energy at home to work as efficiently as possible.

Luckily, you’re protected by different New Zealand laws such as the Fair Trading Act and Consumer Guarantees Act, as well as different organisations you can reach out to, such as the Commerce Commission and Electricity Authority. 

If you go through some serious issues in your power plan, here are some of the basic rights to protect yourself as an energy consumer in NZ.

What are the NZ power providers' responsibilities as set by The EA?

To get started with your rights as an energy consumer, you'll need to learn the responsibilities of your provider. This lets you know the scope of your rights as well as what you can actually raise when something goes wrong with your power.

Most providers follow the voluntary minimum terms of the Electricity Authority (EA) whenever they set up your contract. These terms and conditions include different scenarios when consumers don’t pay their monthly billing statements. This also includes guidelines for tariffs and taxes related to your energy.

What should you look for in your contract?

As mandated by the EA, your contract should include the following terms and conditions. If you don’t see this in your power plan, you’re eligible to question your contract or contact the Authority directly.

  • Range of plans, products, and services for consumers
  • Connection, disconnection, and contract termination
  • Supply of electricity and services like metering
  • Fair and reasonable terms and conditions
  • All costs and fees related to your contract
  • Billing and payment terms and conditions
  • Access to remedies whenever you make complaints

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What are the rights of medically dependent and vulnerable power consumers?

Medically dependent and vulnerable consumers have special rights as consumers. EA sets these government guidelines:

  • Regular communication to their amenable payment options
  • Arrange debt recovery if they fall into adverse credit hardships
  • Ensure consumers have the appropriate contracts
  • Identify consumers as medically dependent and vulnerable
  • Visit consumer’s home before final disconnection

The Authority has recently updated these guidelines through extensive engagement processes with concerned stakeholders.

What does the NZ Consumer Guarantees Act say about your rights?

The Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA) protects New Zealanders from a wide array of unfortunate situations including bad services and faulty goods. This includes utilities like electricity and piped gas. 

This guarantees consumers a safe and reliable power supply. For example, you can be sure to get an uninterrupted supply of electricity in the safe voltage that won’t harm your electronics at home. However, do note that this may not cover unpredictable situations such as earthquakes and extreme weather, among others.

What are NZ's common problems with power?

CGA protects you from a wide array of problems you’re likely to encounter in your power supply. Here’s how it can defend you from some of the most common problems in electricity and gas connection in New Zealand.

Against power outages

Power outages may not be as common across NZ, but they can still happen for a variety of reasons. If ever you find your gas or electricity cut off, you have to check with your provider first. There may be some faults, errors, or maintenance works in your address.

If your provider can’t give you a reasonable explanation on why your electricity or gas is cut off, you’re entitled to a remedy according to terms and conditions set by the CGA.

Not happy with your power plan? Time to switch! Use glimp's Power comparison tool to find the best deal in your area.

Against disconnection

Of course, it’s only reasonable to have your power cut off when you fail to pay your dues. However, your provider must issue multiple notices before completely disconnecting you off the grid. You can discuss your payment terms with your provider to know your best options.

Before disconnecting your power and gas, the provider must do the following:

  • Give you at least a 7-day notice before the actual disconnection date 
  • Issue a disconnection notice which includes the complaints process, contact details, and any fees associated with your contract
  • Ways and times you can contact them if you want to get reconnected
  • Alternative payment options

If your provider failed to do all these steps, you can make formal complaints to designated authorities.

Against incorrect billing

If your current billing is higher than usual, you can call your provider to verify this and ask for transparency. If this is because of your provider’s fault such as not charging for standard line fees, then you can negotiate your payment terms.

If your provider doesn’t want to negotiate your payment terms, you can file a complaint to the authorities and make your payments more achievable for your financial situation.

Read: What is the Average Power Bill in New Zealand?

How can you complain about these troubles?

If you need to make complaints about your power provider, you can address your concerns to them directly. They may be able to make amends to your requests if you talk it out. If this doesn’t work out, contact Utilities Disputes.

Utilities Dispute’s main role is to service consumers with resolutions about their power. They can help investigate your complaints and respond to your enquiries. Most of all, they can give you a wide range of options to help you resolve your problems.

How to avoid problems in your power plan?

Of course, this is easier said than done. You’re still likely to experience problems every now and then. However, doing these things will lessen the chances of you having to go through all that trouble.

Read the contract carefully

You can avoid many of these problems if you just read your contract carefully. Read even the fine prints of your contract and don’t rush into signing it. Understand every single detail so you know exactly what you're signing up for.

Get a smart meter reader

Smart meters send accurate records of your electricity consumption data. This sends out information to your provider in real-time, so you don’t have to worry about meter reading. The great news is, it can be installed for free across New Zealand!

Compare your best power options

Perhaps, you’re experiencing problems because you’re not with the right power plan for you. To avoid these problems, switch to the right power provider now using our comparison tool here at glimp!

Get the best power plan for your needs in just a few simple steps.

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