• Max Bradford

"The significance of Contact Energy's entry to the retail electricity market seems to have been overlooked," Energy Minister Max Bradford said today.

"This is huge and exciting news for Aucklanders particularly. For the first time hundreds of thousands of householders will have real choice about who they buy their electricity from.

"It is also clear evidence of the benefits of competition in the electricity industry - benefits that are being delivered more quickly than the Government had even dared to hope for when the Electricity Industry Reform Act was passed by Parliament just a matter of weeks ago."

Mr Bradford was commenting on Contact Energy's announcement yesterday afternoon that it would be offering to supply electricity direct to retail customers in Auckland. He has welcomed the news, particularly Contact's prediction that residential customers will save up to 10 per cent, and in some cases more, on their current charges.

"Consumers have benefited greatly from competition the Government created the environment for in other sectors already," Mr Bradford said.

"Think of the difference competition has made in telecommunications and air travel, for example. The same sort of price and service choices will soon be available to electricity consumers.

"Contact Energy will be remembered for kicking off what I am confident is just the start of this new age of real competition in the electricity sector."