Meridian Energy seeks to provide retail offerings that are tailored to its customers’ needs, whether they be in the residential, small-medium business, agribusiness or corporate sectors.
The company is the only retailer in New Zealand with a dedicated agri-business unit, which aims to help rural customers to reduce their energy costs and improve their environmental performance.
Credibility with the farming community - thanks to an understanding of their customers’ businesses – is seen as a key to success in this area. And that credibility comes from having all of Meridian’s agri-business team go through Industry Training Organisation qualifications in farming and agriculture. Many already have a background in rural communities.
In the corporate sector, Meridian installed smart meters at 180 of Westpac’s banks in 2012. This has enabled Westpac to monitor its energy consumption and identify areas for improvement. An example of this was at Westpac’s Kilbirnie branch in Wellington, where average weekly energy use was reduced by 47 per cent after smart meters detected a usage abnormality.
Residential customers on Meridian’s Orion network have also benefited from smart metering. A pricing pilot delivered average savings of 9.8 per cent in the year to June 30, 2012, and was forecast to deliver 10.5 per cent savings in the June 2013 year.
Meridian recently launched an off-peak tariff offer to customers of Hamilton-based WEL Networks. It followed an earlier, similar offer on the Orion network.
Before the Orion offer, Meridian identified 25,000 customers would be better off on a different plan, while the remaining 7,000 would also be better off if they could move some consumption out of peak periods. Based on the customers on the two smart energy plans, Meridian says average users could save between $100 and $360 a year on the new tariffs.
Meridian is also trialling an in-home energy management tool that aims to give customers more control of their energy consumption through usage monitoring, comparison options and budgeting features. As of 31 March, the Cortexo system had been offered to 6,000 customers in Christchurch.
In the year to June 30, 2012, Meridian’s average retail contracted price was 10.7 per cent higher than the year before. Meridian’s underlying profitability in the retail segment improved by $5.90 per MWh - using a fixed input purchase price of $85/MWh.
This upward trend continued in the six months to December 31, with an increase of $11 per MWh compared with the year before.
Meridian’s market share continued to hold steady last year at 11 per cent amid a high level of competition. This was despite a one-off transfer of pre-pay customers to Mighty River’s GLO-BUG brand, and the end of its contract to supply the customers of Wanganui-based Energy Direct.
The losses were offset by gains in the small-medium business sector, where Meridian recently gained 500 customers in just one month.
The company also came in first equal with TrustPower out of the big power companies in terms of overall consumer satisfaction according to Consumer NZ’s 2012 survey.
The Energy Retailer of the Year award category is sponsored by Chapman Tripp.