Consultation overview

The Electricity Authority is seeking feedback on options to update and strengthen the Consumer Care Guidelines, which were introduced in 2021 to improve protections for electricity consumers. 

The Authority recently completed a review of the guidelines. The results of the review showed that:

  • retailers are not applying the guidelines consistently, and
  • some of the guidelines' intended outcomes are not being achieved.

New Zealanders rely on electricity and expect that retailers will adhere to basic levels of care. In addition to our review, we’ve listened to stakeholders, including consumer advocacy groups, who’ve told us that these Guidelines are sometimes not being followed.

Sarah Gillies, Chief Executive of the Electricity Authority

At present, the Consumer Care Guidelines are voluntary. 4 options are being considered to update and strengthen them, 2 of which are looking at making parts, or all, of the Guidelines mandatory.

Submissions on this consultation closed on 2 October 2023.

Electricity Authority consultation: Improving the Consumer Care Guidelines(external link)

Our recommendations

In our response to this consultation, we stated that we would like the Authority to make the Consumer Care Guidelines mandatory, not voluntary. We believe this would deliver the best outcomes for electricity customers, by ensuring a robust consumer protection framework is in place. It would also provide certainty to retailers on their obligations.

We also noted that we would like to see the Authority strengthen the guidelines’ provisions in relation to:

  • medically dependent consumers (MDCs)
  • disconnection
  • prepay electricity
  • billing, and
  • bonds and fees.

In particular, we would like to see the Authority:

  • strengthen prepay protections for MDCs
  • expand protections for consumers in energy hardship
  • strengthen protections for prepay customers
  • require bills to display a 'best plan' message at least every 3 months
  • require retailers to pay interest on bonds.

As part of our submission, we included:

  • a research report we commissioned, 'Consumer protections in the electricity sector' which assesses the current consumer protections in the electricity sector, and identifies gaps and opportunities to improve them
  • our model electricity bill, which shows how power bills in NZ could be presented so they're easier for consumers to understand.

Consumer protections in the electricity sector

Developing a model electricity bill