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Fair Go: Is too much choice in the electricity market sometimes a bad thing?

Far too many people are paying way too much for their electricity, and you could be one of them.

That's the view of Sam Koster from Opotiki, a retired GP, who's taken it on himself to get his community a better deal.

He says there's a little known power plan called the low user rate, that could benefit all sorts of households.

The low rate was set up by Helen Clark’s Labour-led Government as a fair deal for people that use less than 8000 units a year in their primary residence, that ends up being most elderly people and those who live by themselves, and even some families whose energy usage is low.

Tracey Bettridge, is one of those people. Before Sam got in touch with her, she was paying the standard rate for her daily charge which is over $2 a day.

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We asked viewers and it turns out Kiwis want to know why power costs so much. Source: Fair Go

Sam told her she could have that slashed to $0.33 a day. Tracey told us, that like many people, she'd never thought to look at her bill to see if she was paying too much. But after Sam's prompt, she rang her company saying she wanted to switch.

It saved her almost $80 a month.

Sam says so many others could save that kind of money but there's a problem. In his opinion, after talking to many locals, no-one seems to know about the low-user option.

Cameron Burrows from the Electricity Retailers' Association of New Zealand disagrees.

He says all power companies are required to inform their customers about the low-user rate when they first sign up, and tell them about it again, at least once every year after that.

He said he'd follow up to ensure this was happening, but added that a major challenge was getting people to engage with their electricity bills.

After all, there are websites such as powerswitch.org.nz and whatsmynumber.org.nz that customers can use themselves to help.

Sam accepts there are things customers can do, but believes power companies should also step up, give more advice, and help people save money.

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We’re in Opotiki as we investigate why some people are on low user plans and others not. Source: Fair Go