Give yourself CHOICE

CHOICE is a world-first app that shows Kiwis the real time carbon impact of the electricity we use. This means, for the first time, we can make a Choice about when we use electricity to reduce our environmental impact.

CHOICE is free for all New Zealanders – whether they’re a Flick Electric Co. customer or not – because we reckon everyone should have choice.


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Live carbon emissions

If you're interested in reducing the carbon impact of your household, CHOICE shows you the mix of electricity in the grid at any one time, and it applies to all Kiwis, regardless of the power company you're with. So when the mix is dirty, you can choose to turn things off.

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Live power prices

The price dial on CHOICE is updated with live spot prices every 30 minutes, so you can see the lovely correlation between clean energy and low power prices. CHOICE also gives you a forecast price for the upcoming half hour period, so you can plan your power use in advance.

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Customise your notifications

Get the most from your CHOICE app by optimising notifications on the app, and on your phone.

Read the step-by-step guide.

Where New Zealand's electricity emissions come from

Diesel

Diesel generated electricity is produced by burning diesel. This only happens occasionally in New Zealand - usually at times when conventional generation can't meet market demand because of a constraint in supply.

Diesel generation produces very high greenhouse gas emissions.

Coal

Coal-fired plants produce a lot of greenhouse gases through thermal generation. Some coal plants in New Zealand also burn gas. Emissions calculation for these plants are based on coal.

In recent years, coal has been used to generate around 4% of New Zealand's electricity.

There is some uncertainty about how much coal generation will be used in New Zealand in the future.

Gas

Gas is a type of thermal generation. Burning gas heats water, and the steam produced spins turbines which generate electricity.

Gas makes up around 15% of New Zealand's electricity supply.

Co-gen

Co-gen is the process of using excess energy from industrial sites to produce steam to generate electricity. This is usually then used on-site. When there is an excess of electricity produced, this can be fed back into the national grid. This mostly occurs in the upper North Island.

Geothermal

Geothermal electricity is generated from heat close to the earth's surface. It is not reliant on weather conditions, making it a reliable, renewable energy source.

Around 16% of New Zealand's electricity supply comes from geothermal, which produces some greenhouse gas emissions.

Wind

Wind energy is one of the most environmentally friendly forms of electricity generation, producing no greenhouse gas emissions.

New Zealand currently has 19 wind farms either generating electricity or under construction.

Hydro

Hydro electricity is generated by falling or flowing water that spins turbines.

Hydro is the largest source of electricity in New Zealand at around 57% of total generation and it produces no greenhouse gas emissions.

Are you part of the solution?

"During periods of high demand, sometimes clean forms of generation – like wind and hydro – reach their maximum capacity. That basically means that they can’t produce enough energy to meet demand, and on those occasions, the reserve generators kick in. Our reserve generators are all powered by fossil fuels (coal or gas) or diesel, and they create loads of carbon emissions..."

Learn more about how seasonal demand affects NZ's carbon emissions from electricity.

Questions?

How do you calculate emissions?

We calculate emissions using the emissions factors from a number of sources as no single source exists for all generation types.

  • The 2013 emissions factor for geothermal, coal and gas is published by MBIE.
  • The factor for diesel is unpublished but is based on average diesel emissions over the past 10 years, also supplied by MBIE.
  • The emissions factor for co-gen comes from EnergyLink, and excludes Kinleith’s wood fired station.
  • Hydro and wind are rated at zero.

The classification of each generation station and unit as to generation type is undertaken by Transpower, based on the information available from generators. More information is available here. (PDF)

What’s behind the number on the price needle?

For Flick Electric Co. customers the price needle shows the live variable charges for their electricity, including the spot price of generation which come from WITS (run by NZX), the lines charges at their place based on their meter set up from their local network company, Flick’s variable retailer fee and the Electricity Authority levy. Each person’s price is unique to them because every property is set up differently.

For Choice users who don’t buy their electricity from Flick, the price needle indicates where the current average spot market price is sitting. This information comes from WITS (run by NZX). We don’t put a number on this because we don’t want people to think that the spot market price of generation is the only charge that makes up their power bill, but we do want people to understand the way the types of generation in the mix, and price, interact.

What are the thresholds in CHOICE for low, medium and high emissions?

At the moment the thresholds are set at 350 CO2e for low, 450 CO2e for medium and 550 CO2e for high, but we don’t have a lot of historical data to base these thresholds on, so we might shift them over time, or even seasonally. Our goal is to give users a realistic view of when emissions are at their worst and we should be working together to reduce our demand, and times when emissions are relatively low so we have as small an impact as possible when we use electricity.

Isn’t 350 CO2e still a massive environmental impact?

It sure is, which is why we say that emissions are ‘relatively’ low. We acknowledge that to have security of electricity supply we have to generate electricity from a range of sources, and some of those will create emissions. But we are better to move our demand to times when renewables are more bountiful, and avoid using power at times when heavy emitting sources like coal and diesel are in the mix.

How does the electricity mix affect price?

The spot price of electricity is largely determined by the market dynamics of supply and demand. Lots of things affect supply and demand, including the availability of different types of generation.

For example, when there is abundant supply – there is lots of wind, which can't be stored so has to go straight into the grid; or bountiful stores of water at the hydro stations - prices tend to be at their lowest.

On the other hand, when there is heavy demand that can't be met from renewables, generators run coal and occasionally diesel. They're expensive to run so the market price goes up.