Consumers flock to Pulse survey's free electricity offer

SideBannerConsumers flock to Pulse survey's free electricity offer  - Felicity Wolfe Tue, 29 Apr 2014

Pulse Energy is giving away electricity and promising one person free electricity for life in a bid to attract as many respondents as possible to an online survey.

The Great New Zealand Energy Survey is open to all residential energy customers and covers topics from home heating to insulation, and interest in smart appliances and electric vehicles. It also tests opinions about electricity retailers, billing and the future of the industry.

The prize - a ‘lifetime’s supply’ of energy valued up to $5,000 per year for 35 years – is intended to attract as many responses as possible, Pulse chief executive Gary Holden says.

“We just launched the survey and thousands have already entered. We are hoping to get a large number – thus the size of the prize.”

Non-Pulse customers completing the survey are also given 250 kW of energy to be credited onto their account if they switch to the firm and stay for six months.

Holden says the survey data will be shared with respondents to raise the awareness of the electricity industry’s issues and challenges in the public domain. “The promise is we will share the results with everyone who enters,” Holden says.

Real concerns

Auckland-based Pulse has grown its customer book to just over 47,300 customers, from around 35,000, since September after partnering with Grey Power to form a new retailer to provide the elderly with cheaper electricity.

The company also launched its Freedom Plan at that time.

Last month, 59.5 per cent shareholder Buller Electricity released an economic study showing that Pulse's entry into its network had increased retail competitiveness in the region. Residential consumers in the area had saved around $2.5 million over five years, the report stated.

Pulse says its survey, which runs until the end of August, will provide respondents with more insight into the New Zealand residential energy market. It aims to address consumers’ “very real concerns and curiosities”.

The questions were created after asking a sample group of families what areas they wanted more insight into. Energy efficiency, competition, pricing and the future of electricity were among the subjects identified.

The survey results will also help Pulse improve its customer service, develop better offers and improve its understanding of what product features different customers are looking for.

Annual plan

Survey participants are asked about the size of their home, the make-up of their household and how they use energy. There are also questions about respondents’ perceptions of energy retailers, how they view the industry’s competitiveness and what their view of the future outlook is.

It is the first year Pulse has run the survey, which Holden plans to run annually. He says the data will always be available to respondents, with new questions likely to be introduced over time, depending on what is happening.

“This is a new thing for Pulse and the New Zealand market. Hopefully it becomes a tradition.” Holden expects that energy policy makers will also find the responses useful. “It should all work towards improving the market overall.