Whether you’re a newcomer to the region or simply want to gain more insight into the various factors that impact your power bill, it’s important to have a good understanding of how electricity works in Northern Territory.

Don’t have time to do your own research? That’s fine – consider this your cheat sheet. We’ve broken down everything you need to know about the territory’s energy sector to help you make a better decision when it comes to your household bills. From industry regulations to renewable energy and everything in between, we’ve assembled the most important information right here on this page to get you up to speed on the Northern Territory electricity sector.

A brief outline of Northern Territory’s energy sector

In years gone by, the government-owned Power and Water Corporation was responsible for providing energy to the vast majority of electricity customers across Northern Territory. In 2014, however, the company was split into three separate corporations: Power and Water, Jacana Energy and Territory Generation.

According to the Government, it is now the latter that generates the lion’s share of electricity in Northern Territory. In fact, Territory Generation boasts 592 megawatts (MW) of installed capacity, and contracts a further 114.5 MW from Independent Power Producers in order to meet the demands of its customers.

Prior to 1986, oil and diesel were the sources of choice for electricity generation. However, since then, there has been a shift away from these unsustainable resources in favour of natural gas. It’s estimated that Northern Territory may be home to as much as 200 trillion cubic feet of prospective shale gas resources, which could prove to be instrumental in helping the region reduce carbon emissions and move towards a more environmentally friendly future.

So, how does the above affect you at home?

How are electricity prices in Northern Territory regulated?

As the Northern Territory government’s Department of Treasury and Finance explained, full retail competition was introduced to the state in 2010. What does this mean? Well, this arrangement usually encourages more competing businesses to enter the market, which typically results in more competitive pricing.

  1. However, in Northern Territory, this hasn’t been the case. Despite the establishment of full retail competition, substantial competition from a range of brands is not yet commonplace. There are a few reasons behind this trend: The lack of a wholesale electricity market, which has resulted in a level of ambiguity in terms of pricing
  2. Concerns among potential newcomers to the market regarding the differences between the territory’s regulations and those of wider Australia
  3. Existing systems for regulating retail energy tariffs

Source: Department of Treasury and Finance, Northern Territory Government, 2014

It’s clear there are a few obstacles discouraging new energy providers from entering the market. However, things could be set to change in the years to come, with the government committing to further deconstruct the current regulatory systems that impede competition. In the future, it’s possible that you will have far greater choice of electricity retailers in Northern Territory, which may enable you to save significantly on your power bill and reduce your overall cost of living when you decide to switch.

How will renewable energy influence Northern Territory’s electricity industry?

As the cost of technology continues to decrease and the need for a sustainable way of living becomes increasingly pronounced, many states across Australia are investigating more environmentally friendly ways of generating electricity. Northern Territory is no exception.

Specifically, the Northern Territory government aims to meet national renewable energy targets by encouraging electricity retailers in the region to generate 20 per cent of their power from renewable resources by 2020.  The government will achieve this objective in a number of ways, including:

  • Introducing renewable energy targets for key principal power grids
  • Teaching electricity consumers about the incentives surrounding renewable energy
  • Facilitating the growth of geothermal and solar energy
  • Establishing goals for the amount of renewable energy produced and consumed in the state

Source: Northern Territory Government, Strategic Plan, 2009

The Northern Territory government also seeks to have the highest proportion of households in Australia generating their own power. This power could then be leveraged for personal use, or fed back into the grid.

Through a combination of these strategies, it’s likely that renewable energy will have a positive effect on the electricity industry, as well as on your household’s power bill. Whether or not it will bring more competition to the market remains to be seen, but by staying on top of developments you’ll be better able to better understand why switching providers can be a smart move.

How can an electricity rebate help you?

The state government has a number of concessions in place to help low-income and at-risk households deal with the cost of electricity. The Northern Territory Pensioner and Carer Concession Scheme provides financial support to eligible card holders for utilities, transport and a range of other essential services.

As the Department of Health explained, you may be entitled to this concession if you:

  • Have a concession card issued by the Commonwealth Department of Human Services
  • Hold a concession card issued by the Commonwealth Department of Veterans’ Affairs
  • Are a carer and are entitled to the Commonwealth Carer’s Allowance from Centrelink

With the government committed to fostering greater competition within the electricity industry and more renewable energy on the horizon, the future looks promising for energy customers in Northern Territory.

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