COMMUNITY INITIATIVE AWARD FINALIST: Pulse Energy – Pay it Forward Programme

10 Jun 2022

Pulse Energy’s Pay it Forward Programme aims to support customers who are experiencing energy hardship. The goal of the programme, the company’s largest community initiative to date, is to provide meaningful support to customers, with minimal barriers to use. 

Pulse hoped it would provide temporary financial relief, while also empowering recipients to maintain their financial and emotional wellbeing going forward.  

Paying it forward  

About a third of New Zealand households experience one or more energy hardship indicators, including damp housing, inadequate heating, or difficulty paying power bills. Almost 8 per cent of households can’t afford to keep their homes adequately warm.   

The catalyst for launching the Pay it Forward Programme was the arrival of Covid-19. During the first lockdown in 2020, the Pulse management team recognised lockdown could cause significant emotional and financial stress for many families, so it held several meetings to discuss how the company could support customers. 

As part of the planning process, Pulse reached out to customers for feedback and received a positive response – more than 40 per cent said they would take part. Two weeks later, the programme was launched.  

Under the Pay it Forward Programme, Pulse customers can choose to add a small monthly contribution to their power bill to support families experiencing energy hardship, with contributions starting at $2 a month. Pulse committed to contributing $150,000 in the first year of the programme.  

There’s no cost involved for recipients and support is provided on a nearly no-strings attached basis.

The one condition is that recipients are open to payment options or being referred to budget support services.  


In 2021, Pulse customers collectively contributed $80,682 towards the programme and supported 1552 households across New Zealand.  

The programme has delivered a range of additional benefits, including delivering wool blankets, wheat bags and Winter Warmer Packs to customers who needed a helping hand. As of February 2022, 2356 customers are contributing between $2 and $50 each month – an increase of 58 per cent from February 2021.  

Heading into the scheme’s third year, Pulse is exploring ways to increase engagement and expand the programme’s impact on its community.   

The Community Initiative of the Year Award category is sponsored by Eagle Technology