Wellington, New Zealand --- (METERING.COM) --- February 6, 2012 - Customer switching between retailers in New Zealand is being completed within an average timeframe of less than 4 business days, according to a new study by the Electricity Authority.

This represents a significant advance on weighted average switching times of over 200 business days less than a decade ago.

Notably also this has occurred as the number of switches has increased, exceeding 40,000 in the month of July 2011, compared with an average around 12,000 per month during 2004.

In 2009, the Electricity Commission identified the then length of time allowed for switching non half-hour customers between retailers, up to 23 business days, as undesirable, and it was labeled “a significant impediment to retail competition.” As a result new rules were implemented on October 1, 2010, requiring all non half-hour switches to be completed within 10 business days, with at least half of standard switches to be completed within 5 business days.

According to the review the current switching timeframe is expected to compare favorably with switching times in other markets. When compared with Australia and 19 European and Scandinavian countries. New Zealand’s maximum allowable timeframe of 10 business days ranks second equal (with Finland, Poland, Spain and Sweden) behind Ireland.

The Authority has also concluded that further revision of the non half-hour switching timeframes is not currently required. However, the Authority said it is aware of potential switching issues with half-hour smart meters and intends to consult the industry on code amendments to maintain efficient switching of domestic and SME consumers.

A further review will also be conducted in 2 years to assess opportunities arising from the wider installation of smart meters.