Moving to a different power company might sound like a hassle, but the good news is retailers make it very easy for customers to have a seamless transition once they’ve decided to make the jump. But how does the process work?
On this page, you'll learn things like:
- The process of moving from one power company to another.
- How the switch between retailers works.
- Who you need to inform.
Why do people switch power companies?
Utilities like power and internet can go months without being thought about (apart from bill payment time, and even then many Kiwis simply have an automatic payment going out).
When someone switches from one power company to another, there can be a number of reasons that trigger this, including:
- a poor customer experience
- a massive power bill
- interruption to the supply of power (without warning)
- a good promo, deal or better standard price from another retailer
- moving house – with the admin of switching to a new address, you may as well look around!
- other attractive features of another retailer such as a useful app or lower rates at off-peak times.
Do you have another reason that makes you look elsewhere? We’d love to hear about it!
Process of changing from one power company to another
It’s always good to keep an open mind about your options with power providers – switching is usually pretty straightforward, although there are cases where it’s a bit more complicated – more on this in a bit.
Usually the steps to moving across to another power company look a bit like this:
- You, the customer, contacts the new power retailer you’ve decided on.
- The retailer will check they can supply power to your address and work through a sign up process with you. This might include an activation date, your billing details, plan type and help with your online account set up.
- The new retailer will then tell your current/old energy company that you are switching over to them.
- You keep paying your old company for power supply up until the date and time the new company takes over. Usually you’ll get a text from the provider and a final bill from the old company.
- Depending on your meter, there may be an onsite reading required (smart meters send this information automatically).
- You’ll start paying your new power company at the frequency agreed. Your first bill might be a bit smaller if you start using the company partway through a set billing cycle.
Important – be up to date with payments
We usually expect your old power company to complete their part of the switch within 10 days (it’s usually less time than that). But if you’re not up to date with your payments with your old company, you likely won’t be allowed to switch until this is sorted.
Breaking a contract with your power company
While at Powershop we don’t have fixed term contracts for residential customers, you may be with a power provider that does have you in a 12 or 24 month contract. In these cases, breaking early will likely come with a termination fee.
Before making the switch, go and check the terms of your current engagement. If you’re on contract, check how much the cancellation penalty is going to be before you shop around. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look for alternatives – but you should tell potential new providers about this fee, so they can consider this as part of a wider savings calculation.
How the switch between power companies works
As power retailers, we need to make switching as seamless as possible. All power companies are in frequent communication with each other to advise of these switches. In most cases it is reasonably simple – a final reading and bill is generated by the old retailer, and your new provider picks up billing from that date.
When the switch occurs, power supply isn’t usually interrupted. That only happens in cases where a home has been vacant for a period of time with no customer paying a bill to a retailer. Or, if there’s a fault or maintenance being done by the lines company. If you need to get power reconnected to a house there may be a charge, depending on the property.
A meter reading counts the kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity used by the home. If you’ve got a smart meter, this will send reading information to your retailer daily, helping to bill you accurately for your usage. Some homes still have an analogue meter which doesn’t send usage information out automatically. Instead these meters need to be read manually. You can supply your old and new companies with this reading, which can help speed up the process of the switch. Analogue meters will mean you’re billed on an estimate with adjustments made when actual readings can be done.
Even if you’ve got a smart meter, go and record the reading at your switch over date just to be safe. Then check your final bill to make sure everything lines up.
Let your new power company do the hard work
It can confuse things if you try and manage a disconnection personally with your old company. It’s easier for everyone if you just sit back and let the switch get managed for you. You’ll be contacted if there’s anything more you need to do.
Should I commit to a fixed term contract?
This is entirely up to you. Powershop isn’t a fan of fixed term contracts for our residential customers as we know circumstances can change. By having the ability to stop with your retailer after the billing cycle, you have that extra peace of mind.
If you do commit to a fixed term contract with a new company, be sure to understand what the costs involved with cancelling early are. If you signed up and received a ‘free’ gift, check you won’t be up for paying the cost of this back if you exit early.