While you don’t need to know all the ins and outs of the Australian electricity industry, it’s a good idea to get at least a basic understanding of how the system works, so you can at least use it to your advantage.
For one, doing so allows you to make a more informed decision about which energy provider you should use, which in turn can help you save money on your power bill or minimise the impact your energy use has on the environment.
Find out if off-peak electricity is suitable for your household, develop a better appreciation of the regulations surrounding Australian electricity prices and learn more about possible electricity concessions you may be eligible for.
Who is responsible for setting electricity tariffs in Australia?
As the Australian Energy Regulator explained, electricity tariffs can be broken down into two parts:
- Fixed charge: Regardless of how much power you use, you’ll need to pay your energy provider a standard fixed tariff. This is a pre-determined amount and is not influenced by your usage. It’s typically charged in cents per day, though may also be displayed as a lump sum for a billing period.
- Variable charge: This is based on your usage. The more electricity you use, the higher your variable charge will be. However, it’s worth noting that this tariff is not necessarily linear, and can fluctuate depending on a range of factors.
The exact amount you’ll need to pay depends on where you’re located. For example, in New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria and Australian Capital Territory, the electricity markets are deregulated and energy providers are free to set prices at their discretion.
This encourages competition, which can result in better prices for consumers, as well as empower them to select a retailer that meets the specific needs of their household. If you live in one of these regions, it’s important to compare energy providers, as you may find that switching to a new supplier could allow you to save big on your power bill.
In Queensland, Tasmania, Western Australia and Northern Territory, the electricity markets are more tightly regulated. Essentially this means the state governments of these regions are responsible for setting electricity prices, which energy providers must abide by.
Understanding electricity concessions
A key component of Australia’s energy industry is electricity concessions. These rebates provide financial support to in-need and low-income households who might otherwise struggle to afford their utility bills.
To receive this concession, you typically need to be in possession of a Pensioner Concession Card, Health Care Card or DVA Gold Card, according to the Department of Human Services. However, keep in mind that the specific terms of eligibility, as well as the amount of money you could receive, varies between regions. Be sure to check out our state-specific electricity pages for more information, or get in touch with your energy provider to find out if you could be entitled to a rebate.
What is off-peak electricity?
As you can imagine, the vast majority of residential electricity use takes place early in the morning before work, and later in the evening when people return home. The demand for energy spikes dramatically during these periods and, conversely, slumps outside of these hours – otherwise known as off-peak times.
How can you benefit from this? Well, some energy providers across the country offer very competitive off-peak electricity pricing plans. If you’re in a position to use the majority of your electricity outside of conventional peak-use times, you could save substantially on your power bill.
The process of moving to off-peak electricity is fairly simple. As the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science noted, it may require you to an install an interval meter, which measures your energy usage in 30 minutes blocks, eliminating the need for manual meter readings and minimising connection and disconnection fees.
However, before committing to a smart meter and an off-peak electricity plan, you need to consider if you’ll realistically be able to stick to using energy during low-demand times. You’ll often face higher tariffs if you fail to do so, and could end up paying more on your power bill than you would under a regular plan.
The Australian electricity industry is made up many different elements, and we’re only beginning to scratch the surface here. Nevertheless, armed with this information you’ll be better poised to make an educated decision when it comes to switching to a new energy provider.