Abolishment is when your home or business is completely removed from the electricity and gas network (e.g. your meter is removed).
This process is different from de-energisation (or disconnection) in that when your property is de-energised, it remains physically connected to the network; your meter has simply been turned off, or the fuse removed. Abolishment is a complete removal from the network.
Accumulation meters (also known as basic meters) measure how much electricity you’ve used since the meter was installed. The quantity used in any given period is determined by subtracting the previous reading from the current reading.
However, this means you’re charged one, peak only rate for all the electricity you use, no matter what time of day you used it. You’re also charged a peak only rate for your gas consumption, although in some states this rate can change depending on how much gas you use during a period. Prices can also change depending on the seasons.
Actual read/actual bill
As its name suggests, the actual read is your bill for the actual amount of electricity or gas you’ve used during a given period. Providers are sometimes unable to provide actual bills (usually because the distributor or meter reader wasn’t able to read your meter), and so they’ll send you an estimated bill instead.
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)
The ACCC is a government regulatory body that supports competition and fair market trade, protects consumer rights and enforces consumer law.
Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC)
The AEMC is the independent body responsible for making and amending the rules of the National Energy Market (NEM) and advising the COAG Energy Council.
Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO)
The AEMO manages Australia’s electricity and gas systems and markets, ensuring that all Australians have access to reliable, secure, affordable and sustainable energy.
Australian Energy Regulator (AER)
The AER ensures energy companies comply with the National Energy Retail Law. Some of its duties include providing market reports on the performance of the industry, ensuring providers (retailers) abide by relevant legislation and more.
Average daily load (ADL)
The average daily load is the amount of electricity (in kWh) you use on average each day.
Baseload is the minimum amount of steady supply of electricity over a period required to maintain everyone at that network.
A basic meter (also known as an accumulation meter) is a meter that accumulates usage over time. Typically, these are analogue and need to be read manually by you or your energy provider.
Basic Plan Information Document (BPID)
A BPID is a document that contains important information about an energy plan, like how much your daily supply charge will be and any discounts you may receive. Ensure that you read this before you purchase a plan, so you understand what it entails. The BPID can usually be found alongside a Detailed Plan Information Document (DPID).
The benefit period is the set time a particular benefit (e.g. discounted rates) applies to your energy contract.
A billing cycle is how frequently you’ll receive a bill from your energy provider.
Victorians receive gas bills every two months and electricity bills every three months. Those in NSW, ACT, WA, QLD and SA get their electricity and gas bills every three months.
For electricity accounts, if you have an interval meter, you may be billed monthly depending on your provider and distributor combination.
Biomass is any organic material derived from plant or waste streams;1 this includes wood, oilseeds, algae and other matter left over from agricultural processes. Currently responsible for generating around 12% of Australia’s renewable energy (May 2020), biomass helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and is what biofuel is produced from.
Black energy is generated by burning coal and other fossil fuels.
Some energy providers offer Centrepay, which allows you to pay your energy bills directly from your Centrelink payments.
A charge point is where an electric car can be recharged. You can generally find charge points at a home, worksite or in a public place (such as a carpark).
The Climate Council is an independent organisation providing valuable reports, data and insight into climate change and renewable energy.
Concessions and rebates
State and territory governments offer a range of energy concessions to help low-income households deal with the cost of electricity and gas. Your eligibility varies between regions, and the exact amount of money you could be entitled to depends on your circumstances. Check out our state energy pages for more information.
The connection date is the scheduled date a connection point (e.g. a house) is connected to the electricity network. You can arrange a connection by contacting your provider or distributor.
Your distributor may charge you a connection fee (although your provider may collect this fee on behalf of the distributor) to connect the energy at your property.
A controlled load tariff is a charge applied to you for some appliances that use a large amount of energy (e.g. underfloor heating, electric hot water systems). Your provider charges a rate just for that appliance and the energy it uses. Controlled load tariffs are generally a lower rate than other tariffs, as these appliances typically operate during off-peak times (e.g. overnight).
A cooling-off period (generally 10 business days) applies when you sign up to a new energy contract. This period allows you to cancel the contract and not pay any charges or exit fees.
Daily supply charge
The amount you pay per day to have your electricity or natural gas connected is called the daily supply charge. This charge goes towards things like infrastructure (e.g. electricity poles, lines or gas pipes) maintenance.
Decentralised electricity is electricity that’s been generated from a source not on the main grid, located close to where it’ll be used (e.g. solar photovoltaic – or PV – panels and cogeneration plants).
Default Market Offer (DMO)
The DMO is an annual price cap in NSW, SA and south-east QLD, and is based on your area’s yearly typical supply charges and electricity usage against standard meter types. This cap protects consumers on standing offers (a basic plan with no extras or discounts) from paying excessive prices by ensuring providers can’t charge them more than this price.
De-energisation is the process of the distributor turning off your energy supply at the meter. This can happen if, for example, you move out or you haven’t paid your bills (though there is a strict process providers and distributors must follow before they can de-energise your home or business). This is also referred to as disconnection.
Detailed Plan Information Document (DPID)
The DPID contains detailed information about an energy plan. Be sure to read this before choosing a plan.
Your energy distributor may charge you a fee charged for disconnecting or de-energising electricity or gas at your property. Your retailer would typically pass this fee on to you through your first bill.
Disconnection for non-payment (DNP)
Providers can disconnect your energy supply if you’ve failed to pay your bill, and this is known as a DNP. However, there are several steps they must take by law before they can do so, including:2
- sending the bill again, outlining your owing amount, when it needs to be paid and how you can do so
- sending a reminder notice and a disconnection warning
- contacting (or trying to contact) you before they disconnect your energy.
If you’re unable to pay your bills due to financial hardship, the first thing you should do is call your provider.3 They can help by evaluating whether you’re on a suitable energy plan, different ways you can repay your bill, directing you to financial counselling services or informing you on the various government concessions and rebates available.
Energy providers sometimes offer discounts on their plans, such as an ongoing discount, pay-on-time and online sign-up discounts. Discounts can be conditional or unconditional.
A conditional discount means you have to meet requirements (such as paying on time each bill or paying by a specific payment method) before you can receive the discount. An unconditional (or guaranteed) discount just means you don’t have to do anything to receive the discount – it’s applied regardless, or whether you pay on time or with any payment method.
Distribution network service providers (DNSP)
The DNSPs are responsible for building, maintaining and operating the electricity distribution networks. Services provided include:
- new connections and disconnections
- energisation and de-energisation
- meter installation and configuration
- upgrades and investigations
- installation and maintenance for under and above ground poles, wires and cabling.
Distributors are the companies responsible for building and maintaining the infrastructure necessary to distribute energy, including power lines, gas pipelines and electricity poles.
Distribution companies operate within set geographical areas around the country, so you can’t choose your energy distributor regardless of whether retail prices are deregulated in your area or not. They can also install meters (all kinds), check if they’re functioning and safe, and read them on behalf of providers.
Electric vehicle (EV)
EVs are vehicles powered by electricity and are rechargeable at charge points.
The electricity grid (or just ‘grid’) is the interconnected network that carries electricity from generators, via distributors, to your home or business.
Embedded Electricity Network (EEN)
EENs are private electricity networks that serve multiple premises, like residential apartment blocks or shopping centres. Instead of each residence having its own meter, the whole building’s electricity is monitored from the one meter.
An end user refers to you – the person who uses the electricity provided from generators via the transmission and distribution networks. It also refers to industries and businesses who use electricity.
Energisation occurs when a connection point is turned on to the energy supply for the first time (e.g. when you’ve built a new house).
The Energy Ombudsman is a free and independent dispute resolution service for energy customers – both residential and small business – who have an unresolved issue with their energy provider. There’s a specific ombudsman service for each state and territory.
Energy Rating Label
Nowadays, you’ll find that many new gas and electricity appliances have a red and yellow Energy Rating Label. These labels give you an idea of the appliance’s energy efficiency and let you compare the energy efficiency of similar appliances (e.g. two different televisions). The more stars on the label, the more efficient the appliance.
Essential Services Commission (ESC)
The ESC is an independent Victorian regulator promoting the long-term interests of consumers in terms of the price, quality and reliability of services like energy and water. It regulates Victoria’s energy, water and transport sectors.
Estimated read/estimated bill
Your provider issues an estimated read/estimated bill if your distributor couldn’t read your meter (e.g. your meter was blocked by a gate or a pet in the yard). This estimation will be based on your past usage or the usage of comparable households.
If you provider issues a bill based on an estimated read, it will be clearly marked on your bill.
If your provider overcharges or undercharges you, they should adjust this in your next bill. Your provider can base three consecutive bills on estimated reads but must arrange for an actual meter if they still can’t access your meter after 12 months.
An exit (or cancellation or termination) fee is sometimes charged by your provider when you exit your energy plan before your contract ends.