Saturday, July 20, 2024

Grey Power Electricity’s 10th anniversary

Grey Power Electricity was launched in September 2013 when the Grey Power Federation formed a partnership with Pulse Energy to bring low-cost, high-value, electricity services to Grey Power members.

The concept had its genesis during development of the 2011 Modernisation Plan which led to the Federation Board being reduced from seventeen to 11 members and future areas of responsibility being redefined.

Voting Delegates at the May 2013 Special General Meeting overwhelmingly approved changes to the Grey Power Constitution. Committee members directly involved in the change process were: David Moffett, Roy Reid, Terry King, Jan Pentecost, Miles Jackson, Don Robertson, Peter Rutledge, Bob Thompson, Pete Matcham and Sandy Feringa,

At that time the Plan author and chairman, former New Zealand Rugby Union boss, David Moffett, said setting up a Grey Power-run power company was feasible. The power company was one of several “Great Big Ideas” suggested in the Modernisation Plan that would enable Grey Power to increase its membership base and influence (banking was another).

Moffett said a Grey Power power company could operate in conjunction with an existing supplier or could potentially set up on its own.

Seeking partners

Federation Board Vice-President Terry King, a former chair of the Energy Committee for the ten years, made enquiries with two major electricity SOE’s without a result. In the meantime the late Bob Thompson reporting to King was in confidential discussion with Bosco Connect Ltd and also Tiny Mighty River over a possible electricity deal. King joined the negotiating team but unfortunately discussions were eventually terminated.

In the meantime the then newly appointed Energy Committee Chair, Allen Davies – with wide experience in the electricity industry and Local Government – had approached several of the major energy retailers, two of which showed interest in a deal with Grey Power, but were not prepared to have the Grey Power name used in conjunction with any special tariff.

Undeterred Davies continued in his quest and approached several of the smaller energy retailers one of which was Pulse who were quite receptive to the proposition of a Grey Power electricity tariff.

There ensued a few months of confidential talks after which a basic contract was prepared and at that point Terry King joined the negotiating team which eventually led to the signing of a Partnering Agreement between Pulse Utilities New Zealand Limited (trading as Pulse Energy) and Grey Power NZ Federation Inc.

Previously, as a result of Grey Power Energy Committee representations to the Minister of Energy, the Hon. Pete Hodgson, the Labour Government in its September 2003 Government Policy Statement (GPS) on Electricity Governance, included transparency of charge components on Domestic consumer contracts.

Members of the 2003 Energy Team were Terry King (Chair) Les Howard, Ian Taylor and four retired Electrical Engineers who had held senior management positions in the electricity industry, namely, Peter Rutledge, Graham Stairmand (G.P.Federation President) David Berry, John Irving and John Noble. A formidable lobbying team.

Industry resistance

At the time there was strong industry resistance to any proposal covering transparency of charge components, and remains so to this day.

In negotiations with Pulse Energy CEO Gary Holden, Grey Power Energy Committee members King and Davies said two positions were non-negotiable, firstly the name of the new entity should be Grey Power Electricity and secondly there should be transparency of charge components on the electricity account.

Gary as CEO of Pulse Energy agreed with both requests.

Today Grey Power Electricity remains a market leader due to the easy-to-read pricing information presented to its customers on the monthly electricity account.

Members are able to see a clear breakdown of charges for energy, metering, network charges, discounts, billing and administration. It is important to know what you are paying for.

Grey Power National President Jan Pentecost said Grey Power Electricity has been an outstanding success and that she was delighted with the close partnership with Pulse Energy. Across the country thousands of existing and new members signed up and switched supply companies to take advantage of the Grey Power Electricity scheme.

Within 12 months of signing the deal Grey Power Electricity had more than 3,000 customers. Pulse Energy Marketing Manager Sharnie Warren (now Pulse CEO) played an important role in this growth by working closely with Grey Power Associations throughout the country and with Janice Harding from Federation Office.

Pentecost said the Pulse Energy partnership was working very well. It had achieved the goals which were very important to GP members, and “we are looking to further growth in the years ahead”.

It was timely to acknowledge the contribution of Energy Committee members Allen and Terry for their early initiatives, she said.

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