01 Jan 2017

Pay As You Go: A Proven Model For Pinergy

  • General Interest

Consumers are talking with their feet. If there’s a saving to be made, they’ll make it. If there’s a deal to be had, they’ll take it. The ‘Holy Grail’ for everyone as pennies are counted and belts are tightened is control, and that’s exactly what Paul O’Connell and PINERGY are bringing to the electricity market.

Enda Gunnell, CEO of PINERGY noted “Pay-as- you-go has long been accepted as the ‘done thing’ when it comes to mobile telephones, and it’s really taking off as a payment method in the electricity market too”. Gunnell, a former partner with Mazars in Dublin, saw a potential market of up to 600,000 households.

“PINERGY commissioned some work in 2012 from Coyne Research. It found that 34% of the total population said they would consider the use of a pay as you go system for their electricity consumption. The passion was there, and we wanted to provide people with a dependable alternative they could trust.”

Pay as you go electricity has proven a success in markets around the world. In Northern Ireland, over 30% of households use the same ‘smart metering’ technology that PINERGY provide in the Republic. So how does it work?

Rather than receiving a bill with a breakdown of your electricity usage over the past 2 months, PINERGY install a ‘smart meter’ in the property, and you never receive another electricity bill again. Similar in size and design to an alarm system keypad, a device (they refer to it as a ‘Freedom Unit’) is placed in a convenient location around the house. The device is then used to manage your spend.

“Once the customer has signed up, we install our technology free of charge, and then you simply ‘top up’ like you would a pre pay mobile phone,” explained Gunnell. “The in-house display lets you know much electricity you are using at that very moment and the cost, so you can turn off any unnecessary lights or devices around the house – and see savings immediately. It will also tell you how much electricity you have used, and most importantly how much you’ve spent, over the past day, week or month, which encourages users to make REAL changes in their energy consumption patterns. It’s good for the bank balance, and it’s good for the environment too.”

PINERGY’s journey to market has been relatively fast. The company started trading in September 2012 with a test group of customers, and the product was then rolled out to the market proper in February of 2013. With an incumbent PAYG provider already active in Ireland, there was ground to make up. But, PINERGY had a 6 foot 5 inch ‘ace in the hole’.

“We approached Paul O’Connell to come on board as a director of the company, and a brand ambassador,” said Gunnell, he himself a proud Munster man. “But before any agreement was reached, he insisted that we install PINERGY in his home so he could see for himself the benefits. When you get the Paul O’Connell seal of approval, you know you’re doing something right.”

There quickly followed an extensive marketing campaign with O’Connell at the helm, and within 6 weeks, a new electricity provider brand was born. So what next for PINERGY?

“There’s no question that there’s a massive opportunity for growth. Energy costs are rising all the time, and consumers are looking for ways to cut costs and take control of their spending. Literally thousands of customers are moving to pay as you go energy services every month; if PINERGY can help take one more bill off the door mat, we’re happy to help.”

First Printed: Winter 2013