Meridian Energy launched has its online energy retailer, Powershop, in NSW, marking the New Zealand renewable energy giant’s latest challenge to Australia’s incumbent gentailers, with promises of instant 20 per cent savings on electricity bills.
The online product, which can also be accessed through a smartphone app, will give NSW customers the opportunity to “proactively budget” for their power costs, by shopping around for the best available – and/or greenest – electricity deals.
Powershop says its customers can also use the online program as a sort of energy management too, to work out how much electricity they’re using, where they’re using it, and how much it’s costing.
The move up the east coast on Wednesday follows Meridian’s launch of PowerShop in Victoria last year, where the Wellington-based company says it now has more than 35,000 customers. Powershop predicts newcomers who switch from the Big Three utilities – AGL, Origin Energy and Energy Australia – will save more than 20 per cent on their power bills.
Of course, soaring power bills have had the overall effect of making Australian consumers more conscious of how much electricity they’re using, and what they’re paying for it – all of which is good news for a “protest” offering like Powershop.
The company has already named south east Queensland and South Australia as their next target states, where they expect to roll out their product by the end the year.
In south east Queensland, local network operator Energex has been one of the few in Australia to acknowledge the changing shape of the power market.
Back in September 2013, the company noted in its annual report “a trend toward energy management options for customers.”
“As energy management options such as smart appliances, energy management software, in-home generation and battery storage become more available and affordable, we expect to see a significant change in the way customers use energy and our network,” the Energex report said.
“This will have wide-ranging implications for the way the distribution network is planned, built and operated, as well as for our ongoing business sustainability.”
Powershop CEO Ben Burge says customers now have an advantage over their electricity retailers. “They are smarter, have better information (through social networks and online tools) and have a choice to reject the traditional retail model by switching to a modern power company,” he said in a statement (he did not return calls).
“Powershop was born out of protest. Everything that annoyed us as customers – outrageous prices, lock in contracts, exit fees, hidden costs, bad customer service and jargon-filled, confusing information – has been dumped from our business model.
“It means people can manage their power consumption – and ultimately, their bill – all from the palm of their hand,” he said.