• Max Bradford

Energy Minister Max Bradford today welcomed Contact Energy's announcement that it will be the first to bring competition into the retail electricity market in Auckland.

Mr Bradford was commenting on Contact Energy's announcement this afternoon that it would be offering to supply electricity direct to retail customers in Auckland. Contact is predicting residential customers will save up to 10 per cent, and in some cases more, on their current charges.

"This is further evidence of the benefits flowing through from competition," Mr Bradford said. "We are at the dawn of a new age in the electricity industry as it joins other sectors where competition has made a huge difference for consumers.

"Just look at the way prices have come down and services improved in telephone and air travel, for example."

Mr Bradford said electricity prices in New Zealand are too high, particularly for residential consumers.

"In 1991 the cost of electricity for domestic consumers was 9.71 cents per kWh, but had risen to 11.45 cents per kWh by 1997. This was despite Government reforms which had resulted in price reductions in the wholesale market," Mr Bradford said.

"Bringing competition and through this lower prices - particularly for householders and small businesses - is what the Government's Electricity Industry Reform Act (passed last month) is all about."