Z Energy's entry into the electricity sector is helping support EV drivers.

Wellington-based Flick Electric was established as an independent electricity retailer in 2014 “to disrupt New Zealand’s outdated electricity industry” using proprietary software and smart meter technology to deliver fairer pricing outcomes for Kiwi. 

Since then, Flick has grown and today powers around 37,000 homes and small businesses across New Zealand. The company has been backed by service station operator Z Energy (Z), after it took a majority shareholding in Flick in 2018 and then full ownership last year. 

Pavan Vyas, Flick chief executive, says his company is “focused on being prepared for an electrified economy and advocating for a fair transition for Kiwi.” 

 Putting customers first, Flick doesn’t enter into fixed contracts or charge an exit fee. They are the only retailer to offer a ‘Best Plan notice’ which reviews their customers’ power plans every 90 days. If there is a different Flick plan that can help save the customer money on their power bill, the Flick team will let them know.      

Their efforts to make it simple for customers have been recognised with multiple industry awards including the 2021 Consumer NZ Energy Retailer of the Year and Canstar Blue’s Most Satisfied Customers Award (Electricity Providers) in 2020 and 2022.           

“We are a small and nimble technology-enabled electricity company that can move quickly. With the backing of Z, and its parent company Ampol, we have greater access to capital, resources and customers.” 

So why does one of New Zealand’s largest fuel retailers want to partner with a relatively small, independent electricity retailer? 

Lindis Jones, Z chief executive, says: “From day one we stated our ambition to be an energy company, not just a liquid fuels supplier. We have the belief that electricity can play a significant role in the energy transition and supporting our customers to go about their daily lives.”

Z recognised Flick would be the right partner as it began its journey in the electricity sector – with the technology, capability and flexibility to adapt as customers’ needs change and evolve. “For instance, a few years ago we trialled offering electricity at home and incentivised this with fuel discounts. It took Flick and Z only 90 days to develop and build this product; we don’t believe we would be able to do that with an arm’s length relationship with another party.”

With more EVs on New Zealand’s roads, and most EV drivers looking to charge them at home, the two companies again took the chance to innovate for customers last year.  

Partnering to develop and launch Z’s home power plans, the teams created an offer tailored to support EV drivers. Flick’s technology and distribution means Z is now able to offer a home electricity plan with free power between 3am and 6am and half price night rates* – a great time to have the car plugged in and charging. 

“Along with launching new offers, we are leaning on Flick’s expertise to ensure we are transparent for our customers when it comes to billing,” says Jones. “The invoices within the electricity industry can be hard to understand. Our customers appreciate the simplicity of the invoice developed by Flick. It shows clearly how much power they use, why and what it costs.” 

And what does the partnership with Z offer Flick? 

Vyas says the backing of Z enables Flick to enter into long-term power purchase agreements where “we buy certain volumes at certain prices. We tend not to rely on the spot or ASX electricity markets.” 

”All the big players have their own wholesale suppliers –– so it can be challenging for a smaller, independent retailer like us. 

“We do a lot of work  to promote greater competition and greater choice for Kiwi consumers. We will continue to be deliberately on the customers’ side and keep our prices transparent and fair.”  

*The free hours or half-priced night rates are not applicable to any separately-priced control meter (such as hot water) but apply to all other power consumption.