Genesis Energy

Finalist
2012

Genesis Energy customers on a multi-rate tariff trial in Auckland are reducing their electricity consumption by an average 8 per cent and their bills by about 10 per cent.

The trial, involving 225 account holders in the Waitemata area, hasn't even included any new tools to help customers change their use. Genesis Energy expects the savings being made will "significantly increase" once they are available.

The trial is one of a string of initiatives the state-owned generator has underway as part of a strategy to put its customers at the forefront of the business.

The move is a fundamental change of the way the company - the country's biggest electricity and gas retailer - operates. Its goal is to cease being an engineering-driven provider of a commodity energy product and instead focus on the retail energy needs of its 676,000 customers.

In the past year it has replaced almost its entire senior management team and is reorganising the business in order to deepen its connection with those customers by becoming more useful and relevant to them.

By having the most effective customer focus in the industry, it aims to differentiate itself from its rivals and reduce costs from the high rates of churn the sector is seeing.

Technology

In the past year Genesis Energy has installed 100,000 advanced meters, taking its total smart meter count to more than 260,000, offering 54 per cent of its customers the chance to save money through better management of their power consumption.

And the company is now developing a deeper range of products to help its account holders do that.

Earlier this year Genesis Energy launched a Smartphone application that allows its customers to view their energy usage anytime, anywhere, and measure it against their average monthly use or their own pre-set budget.

The company has also signed an agreement with Ecospring to promote hot water heat pump technology. Customers are able to save between 50 and 70 per cent on water heating costs when they buy into this technology and receive a $300 credit on their power bill.

And in April the company established a partnership agreement with California-based GreenWave Reality to distribute its plug-in home energy management tools. The units, currently being tested as part of the company's 15-home Tomorrow Street trial on the North Shore, could be available later this year.

The new approach appears to be paying off. Despite the high customer churn rates seen during the Electricity Authority's switching campaign last year, Genesis added 10,000 new accounts. Its churn rate in the year to March averaged 18 per cent - 3 percentage points below the industry average.

In the period under review it increased its share of the retail electricity market to almost 27 per cent, and lifted its share of the gas market to almost 44 per cent. The LPG customer count almost doubled to 6,684 at December 2011.

Customer satisfaction has also improved, with 95 per cent of users rating the service good, very good or excellent in April, up from 91 per cent a year earlier.

And the company's earnings have also improved. In the six months to December 31, net profit doubled to $38.8 million while EBITDAF increased 37 per cent to $190.5 million.

The Overall Energy Company of the Year Award category is sponsored by Port Taranaki.