Media release

Amended Electricity Industry Participation Code comes into force from 1 April 2021

1 April 2021

From 1 April 2021, a new amendment of the Electricity Industry Participation Code (the Code) comes into force. 

This amendment is to support consumer awareness of both Utilities Disputes and Powerswitch and what services are available for the consumer.   

The 2019 Electricity Price Review and other research undertaken by the Electricity Authority, highlighted that members of the public have little awareness of the Utilities Disputes services or of Powerswitch. 

Both Utilities Disputes and Consumer NZ support the Code change as it means electricity companies have to inform their customers about both organisations. 

Utilities Disputes provides a free, fair and independent dispute resolution service to help consumers to resolve electricity, gas and water complaints with their provider. 

Powerswitch, managed by Consumer NZ, is an independent energy price comparison website which helps consumers work out which power company and pricing plan is best for their specific needs.

In today’s environment it is vital that consumers are well informed and empowered to make the right choices for their circumstances. This encourages electricity retailers to improve their products and services for consumers. 

The Code change means that all electricity retailers and distributors must provide customers with clear and prominent information about Utilities Disputes and Powerswitch. 

“Every initiative to increase awareness of our free, independent, and fair service is welcomed,” says Utilities Disputes Commissioner and CEO, Mary Ollivier. “These changes will help us to support customers with any disputes they are unable to resolve directly with their company. Increased competition in the energy market means it is more important than ever that consumers have access to the assistance they need to voice their concerns, and to ask for extra help if they need it.” 
Powerswitch provides independent information to help consumers shop around and look for a better deal, which can only be good for the consumer as they can compare process and switch to save money on their power bill. 

You can read more about the Code change here.

Background and contact information

Note on Utilities Disputes
Utilities Disputes has been responding to electricity and gas complaints since 2001. Utilities Disputes offers a dispute resolution service that is free, independent and fair. Together with resolving complaints, the Utilities Disputes team responds to enquiries, clarifies issues, talks through available options, and guides people to the right place. Utilities Disputes welcome calls, emails or online enquiries. 
Ph: 0800223340, Email: info@utilitiesdisputes.co.nz, Website: www.utilitiesdisputes.co.nz

Media contact
Diana Wolken
Communications Manager
Email: d.wolken@utilitiesdisputes.co.nz
Phone: 021 288 0552

Note on Electricity Authority
The Electricity Authority is an independent Crown entity responsible for promoting competition in, reliable supply by, and the efficient operation of the electricity industry for the long-term benefit of consumers.

Media contact 
Sally Taylor-Phillips
Principal Communications Advisor
Email: sally.taylor-phillips@ea.govt.nz                       
Phone: 0210 737 777
  
Note on Consumer NZ and Powerswitch
Consumer NZ is a non-profit organisation, with 60 years of helping New Zealanders get a fairer deal. In addition to product tests, they investigate consumer issues, campaign to improve consumer rights and run Powerswitch a free and independent service that helps consumers work out which power company and pricing plan is cheapest for them.

Media contact
Gemma Rasmussen 
Head of Communications & Campaigns 
Email: gemma@consumer.org.nz
Phone: 021 891 985

Powerswitch
1. Consumer NZ’s Powerswitch website has helped New Zealanders check for potential savings, compare plans and switch their power deals since 1999.
2. Consumer NZ receives funding from the Electricity Authority to provide all New Zealand consumers with a free and independent electricity and gas price comparison service. Some additional funding is received from Electricity and Gas Retailers, The Gas Industry Company and MBIE.
3. The Electricity Price Review recommended merging the Electricity Authority’s previous What’s My Number website and Powerswitch together to create a more advanced single comparison website.