Many electricity users switching suppliers

New Zealanders are switching electricity companies in record numbers as competition in the market increases to levels never seen before, the Electricity Authority says.

More than 440,000 ''switches'' between electricity companies were made last year, beating the previous record of 417,642 switches in 2015 by more than 5%.

Authority acting chief executive John Rampton said it was pleasing to see consumers exercising choice and shopping around for better deals.

''Competition in the retail electricity market is continuing to grow, which is positive for consumers. It means both incumbent and new entrants need to innovate on things like new and different price offerings, consumer control and transparency in order to win and retain customers.''

According to authority data, there were now more than 40 retail electricity brands to choose from across New Zealand, up from more than 22 five years ago.

Small or medium-size retailers - those outside the largest five retailers by number of customers - now accounted for more than 10% of the retail market, he said.

More than 40,000 households were buying electricity products in ways that did not exist five years ago, including consumers choosing spot-priced contracts or paying through bundles - including gas and broadband, Mr Rampton said.

Forsyth Barr broker Damian Foster said this year, the small start-up retailers would continue to grow faster than the big five.

Flick Electric and Electric Kiwi growth might slow due to wholesale prices being negative for Flick and the need for Electric Kiwi to move to break even quickly.

Genesis, Contact Energy and, to a lesser extent, Trustpower ended 2017 with electricity customer loss momentum. Mercury and Meridian consistently gained customers during 2017, he said.

Genesis was expected to continue to lose customers during 2018, and the customer bases of the other large retailers would largely stay flat, Forsyth Barr forecast.

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