Note: The information in this section is provided as a general guide only. Always consider your specific needs when making a decision on provider, and seek independent advice.

Searching around for a power company to provide your business with electricity doesn’t need to be stressful. Use this guide to build your criteria and make an informed decision.

On this page, you'll learn things like:

  • what makes power companies different from one another
  • why going by price alone may not always be the best way to choose, and
  • environmental factors to consider.

If you’re interested in choosing Powershop as your business electricity provider, please give our team a call on 0800 472 952 or email business@powershop.co.nz

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Finding a power partner

Choosing a power provider sometimes happens during a new business set-up or office relocation, when many other utilities need to be organised. This hectic period for a business can mean we don’t set aside time to do in-depth research on which power company is right for us. How much time are you really putting into this decision?

If you rush a decision like choosing the power provider for your business, you can end up with a plan or retailer that just isn’t right for you – and worse, stuck in a contract you can’t get out of without a cost.  You may be okay with the service but find the website or app hard to manage. 

By doing a bit of homework in some key areas, businesses have a good chance of picking a power company that suits their specific needs. We’ll dive into these key areas below, so you’ve got some things to think about during your research.  

Price of business power

Perhaps the first comparison Kiwi businesses do is pricing. It can be tricky at first glance to understand the subtle differences between provider A vs provider B – but price comparison is something we can all understand. We’ll cover some non-pricing relating parts to the provider decision later, but in the area of dollars, you’ll need to consider a few factors:

  • How much is the daily ‘fixed charge’ for the provider
  • How much is the cost per kilowatt hour?

Some power companies may offer a higher fixed daily charge but lower price per kilowatt hours – and vice versa. The other consideration is fluctuations in the wholesale price of power – that is how much us retailers pay to buy it from the generators. For more certainty, you may be able to get a plan that ‘locks in’ your energy rate for a couple of years or so.

It’s likely that companies will have quite a different pricing structure for their business customers compared to what they offer their residential customers. So you’ll need to explore each provider in detail to find out exactly what they can offer your business.

Discounts and promotions

Along with pricing, a common motivator for businesses choosing one power company over the others is current discounts or promotions on offer. 

These discounts may apply for quick bill payments or be part of a promotion incentivising new customers to join. You may see promotions offering large account credit for shifting over. For traditional power companies these are the type of incentives you might expect. 

Understanding your own power usage habits

The truth is that different electricity plans suit different businesses. When you’re searching around for your next provider, it’s a really good idea to build understanding of both your current and estimated future power usage. While you might not nail it, having some information on your power needs and better still, your expected kilowatt hours, will help you and a provider put you on the correct plan. 

Use your old power bills (if you have them)

If you’re an existing business with previous power bills handy, you can refer to the usage report from your old provider to give you the most accurate idea of your consumption. Just consider the old premises and usage vs what you’ll need going forward; a bigger space with more equipment might put you into a different category of power user. 

Try to avoid too much or too little

Many businesses have significant power needs with lighting, heating and electrical equipment in constant use across the day. Some businesses, especially those making a conscious decision to reduce power, may have a much smaller demand potentially putting them on a more cost-effective plan.

If your power requirements are on the heavier side, it’s definitely worth going on a plan designed for this. Otherwise, you may end up paying more in the event you’ve used more electricity than the expected amount within a given billing period.

The contract 

Just like you should expect to know the structure of a power company’s pricing, you also need to have clarity around the contract you’d enter into for a given plan. The contract (if the plan has one) will set out the terms and conditions for everything from payment to supply to termination.

You might encounter a mixture of no-contract and fixed term contract options in your research. It’s quite common to have these options with the same provider. The no contract gives the business freedom to leave the retailer quickly, but means you may pay a higher rate for the power you use. The contract gives more security for the retailer and therefore you can expect a better deal by committing.  You will need to explore each retailer’s options, but here’s a general guide to get you started:

A contract could mean:

  • Better discounts on the bill as a whole
  • A better energy rate for your business
  • Protection against fluctuating power prices with a set cost for kilowatt hours used
  • A break up charge (‘termination fee’) if you want to leave before the contract’s up

An open, non-fixed plan could mean:

  • Freedom to leave to another provider at any time (sometimes paying up to the end of the billing period)
  • No break-up charge
  • Your business is more exposed to variable rates over time – you could pay more or less depending on what power prices do in the market.

You may not have both of these options available – it will depend on the specific retailer’s offering, It’s up to you whether you want complete freedom to move, or have the predictability each month that a fixed term can give you. 

Some businesses prefer to commit to a term (say, for example, 12 months), so that the operating costs in a budget can be relied on with a degree of certainty. If you’re ever unsure about the details of different business plans and what the contract will mean for you, phone or email the provider to get more specific information.

Quick, hassle-free connection

Getting your business connected to power in an existing building should be a fairly simple process, with you providing your address details and possibly a meter reading. 

If the workspace is brand new and has not received power before (or indeed for a long period of time), then you might need to ask your power company for assistance to get connected. If there’s a large office fit-out that involves rewiring or other electrical work to the building, your power company may need to speak with the landlord and/or electrician to confirm a safe, timely connection plan.  

As you look around for power companies, ask them about their connections to businesses specifically – how do they coordinate connections to commercial buildings? As the power retailer, they should provide you guidance to connect up your electricity. 

A business-friendly platform 

In this digital age our power companies are sometimes best differentiated by their online platform. As an account holder with a provider, you will have a log in where you can access an online portal to manage your account details and monitor usage from a computer or phone. Many providers in NZ will have a mobile app for the best possible user experience. 

When searching around for your next power provider, check out their platform and see how easy it is to navigate around. You should be able to get a clear visual of your business’ daily usage. Helping you understand where spikes occur and how you might save on power in the future. 

Companies will usually manage and check power usage from a computer, but anyone who also wants to manage the business ‘on the go’ should look for a provider that offers a really good mobile app for your phone. The app should let you monitor use and communicate with the provider. It should also let you make payments on bills once you’ve loaded up your payment details. 

Chat to potential power providers about their platform, and whether its features will suit your business. 

Billing

You will want to establish the best frequency to pay bills - for many it’s part of monthly accounts payable. Some providers may bill in shorter periods, so be sure to ask about this if it suits you better.  

Late payments

Now we know you’ll be up to date with all your bills, but it’s worth knowing the policy and terms around late payments – sometimes issues arise and they can’t be avoided! Take some time to read power company terms for late payment. Some providers might have more immediate penalties for being late, while others may be more reasonable. This is good to know before you make your decision.

Reliable service and friendly support

We don’t believe there’s any excuse for less than excellent service at all times from a power company. 

It’s quite easy to just think ‘power is power’. While it might feel this way most of the time, you will really feel the value of a good power company when you need help. Look for a provider who’ll take care of you from the initial enquiry. You’re running a business – you want to make sure your utilities are professional and reliable.  

Understanding during billing problems

Friendly staff become even more important should you run into any billing issues. Those late payments we mentioned? Much easier to resolve when you’ve got a supportive provider that doesn’t get hostile straight away.  The power company should work with  you respectfully to resolve problems.

Service support

Once you’ve joined up to a power company, it’s common to need some help to use or get the most out of an accompanying app or platform. Choosing a provider who displays friendly, supportive communication during your enquiries will likely be better at walking you through your account once signed up. 

This can be hard to estimate when you’re shopping around without digging into the details. Don’t be afraid to ask prospective power retailers about how they offer support to customers. Try to have some good conversations on the phone with potential providers. How you’re treated at this stage could be a sign of what’s to come.

Renewable and Green

Where your energy is generated before it comes to you via a retailer like us is something many businesses really care about. You should be able to confidently have utilities running your business that don’t conflict with your company’s environmental values. 

80%+ of New Zealand’s power is from renewable sources. Think hydro, wind and even geothermal energy. Renewable means the source isn’t depleted once used – and Kiwis tend to think that’s pretty important.

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