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October rollover set for retailer billing

29 June 2021

The Lines Company’s (TLC) much anticipated transition to a single energy bill is set to take place on 1 October 2021, with customers across TLC’s network region due to benefit from retailers billing both lines and electricity charges.

The decision to move to retailer billing was confirmed in October 2020 following a comprehensive evaluation of options, sustained feedback from customers, and recommendations in the Government’s 2019 Electricity Pricing Review.

TLC’s review process required the business to thoroughly understand the implications for customers, retailers, staff and the wider community and incorporated workshops with TLC’s Customer Service Panel and Waitomo Energy Services Customer Trust (WESCT) to validate the benefits and risks of changing TLC’s billing practice.

“Customers have been telling us for a while they want one bill incorporating both their lines and energy charges because it’s more convenient– and we’ve listened,” said TLC CE Sean Horgan.

“The change puts full control in customers hands to manage their total energy costs and get the best deal from their retailer.

“Some people also want to continue to see their detailed lines charges.”

TLC confirmed the lines business is actively encouraging retailers to listen to feedback from customers and provide a detailed breakdown of lines charges on their bills.

“Outside of what our retail partners do, we’re developing a tool on our website for customers to estimate their lines charges,” commented Horgan.

The rollover to retailer billing will bring the Company’s billing practices into alignment with the rest of New Zealand’s electricity industry, with the majority of meter cutover reads taken at midnight on 30 September 2021.

Most TLC customers will receive their last lines bill from TLC in October, except for some large industrial sites whose draw on the network necessitates a continuation of direct billing.

Horgan said part of preparation for change would see WESCT Customers receive payment of the TLC Discount in September so their last TLC bill would have the discount applied, reducing the amount owing. TLC will also refund any credit balance once the final bill has been paid. He also confirmed a range of services and support would be provided in the lead up to the rollover including making payment plans with customers who are in arrears.

“Our customers will receive ongoing communication from us, so they’re prepared for the change.

“We’ll be running roadshows and community meetings to ensure everyone across our network understands the change.

“The good thing is most customers on our network won’t need to do anything. They’ll simply start receiving one bill from their electricity retailer from 1 October.

“For others like landlords and farm owners, they may need to renegotiate with their tenants or workers if there is a situation where the landlord pays the lines charges, but the tenant pays the energy charges. Customers who are medically dependent on electricity will need to register with their electricity retailer if they haven’t already. And vacant properties will no longer be billed if there is no associated retail account,” said Horgan.

TLC has a range of retailer billing information available on their website. TLC’s customer experience team will actively support customers across the King Country, Ruapehu District and Central Plateau through the change via their call centre, in person, and online.

For more information on retailer billing click here.

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