After only eight weeks in development, Flick Electric Co. released a new app this week, called Choice, that gives Kiwis information about the carbon impact of the electricity they are using in real time.
The app, which is available and free for all Kiwis, including customers of other power companies, uses live generation, price data and alerts to encourage people to use electricity when there is less carbon impact, and cut back their use when non-renewables are high.
Flick customers, who pay the half-hour spot price of generation, can see the interplay between the generation mix and their price. For example, when there’s plenty of wind running, because it can’t be stored, prices tend to be lower; and when supply is constrained and the generators need to turn on the diesel peakers, prices tend to be higher.
“One of our core values is empowering people to make informed decisions about their electricity use,” says Flick chief executive Steve O’Connor. “Our first product, our electricity retail platform, focuses on the spot market price, and delivering that information to people in a way that encourages them to effectively pick what they want to pay for the power they use.”
He says Choice builds on this ethos by adding to its product set information about the carbon impact of electricity so people can move their usage to times of day when these are lower emissions to take stress off the system at times when demand and emissions are high.
“As a team we have seen the information about the mix of generation in the grid that Transpower manages, and it didn’t take us long to see the value in giving that information to people in terms of its environmental impact,” he says.
He says the app will also debunk some myths about ‘green’ electrons.
“Many people think that because they are with a power company that invests in renewable generation that they use all ‘green electrons’ at home. But we all get our electricity from the same system, so if you want to make a good environmental choice the best thing you can do is switch off when there is heavy demand that is causing fossil fuels to run.”
O’Connor says Flick decided to open it up to all electricity users because every consumer can make a choice that helps all of us by reducing our overall carbon impact.
“Every connection in the country draws from the same mix of electricity so we have a collective responsibility to be conscious consumers. We really believe in using technology to make New Zealand a better place.”
He says there is a growing international consciousness about the impact of our consumption choices on climate change, especially off the back of the Paris agreement late last year.
“Research conducted by Motu at the time showed that 60 percent of New Zealanders are concerned about the impact of climate change on themselves and society,” he says.
“And the people who think it is going to have a big impact, are most likely to reduce emissions at home as a way to make a contribution. Accenture research shows that people want their power retailer to help them do this.”
“We think businesses have a real responsibility to give consumers the information, tools and incentives they need to change their behaviour to reduce their environmental impact.”
Choice can be download on Apple's App Store and Google Play.
Scripting and creative direction: Scott Henderson, SAS
Production: Assembly under the guidance of Jonny Kofoed