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Western Australia’s (WA) sheer size, combined with a smaller population than Australia’s eastern states, means its energy sector is a bit more complicated than elsewhere in the country.

Don’t worry, though; we’re here to keep things simples.

Electricity providers in WA

a mother reading her daughter a story by lamplight

There are a few electricity providers (also known as retailers) available in Perth and other parts of the region, but you have to have a contestable meter to choose your own provider and energy plan.

A contestable meter simply means energy companies can see you’re available as a potential customer, and you can choose your energy provider. To become contestable, you must live outside the South West Interconnected System (SWIS), or if you live within the SWIS area, you must use 50MWh of electricity per year or pay more than $15,300 a year on electricity.1

Let’s be real; that’s a crazy high amount for the average household! As such, residential customers almost never get to choose their electricity provider. Businesses, however, are a different story as they use much more electricity and account for virtually all contestable electricity consumers.

WA’s electricity market is broken up into multiple areas:

  • South West Interconnected System, or SWIS (the south-west region of the state),
  • the Kimberly Region,
  • the Pilbara Region,
  • the Gascoyne/Midwest Region, and
  • the Goldfields/Esperance Region.

If you are in the SWIS area and are a contestable consumer, you may be able to choose electricity plans from the following companies (availability can differ depending on your exact location):

  • A-Star Electricity
  • Advanced Energy Resources
  • Alinta Energy
  • Amanda Energy
  • Blue Star Energy
  • Change Energy
  • Clear Energy
  • Horizon Power
  • Kleenheat
  • Perth Energy
  • Shell Energy
  • Synergy

Information accurate as of 5 March 2021 but is subject to change.

Non-contestable customers within the SWIS area are supplied by Synergy and electricity prices are regulated by the Western Australian Government.1

A note on electricity deregulation and WA

Typically, in a functional and competitive market, there are benefits to energy deregulation. It gives consumers the power of choice, and competition between energy companies can help drive prices down. Electricity providers may even offer other perks like discounts on movie tickets or other incentives.

However, there is no getting around the vast distances in WA.

These distances would normally drive up the cost of electricity. However, the market is regulated, so prices are similar whether you’re in Perth, Broome or all the way out at Balgo. This means you won’t be penalised for electricity use based merely on your geography.

Gas providers in WA

WA’s gas market was deregulated in 2004, meaning private gas companies can enter the market and set their own prices. The free market (under the watchful eye of the state’s energy ombudsman) maintains healthy competition between gas providers. This benefits you as a customer as gas providers that excessively charge risk losing all their customers and business.

All gas customers can choose their own retailer, however, some retailers (Synergy) can only supply gas if you use a set amount each year.

Additionally, in areas around Perth, Albany, Geraldton and Kalgoorlie, there is a gas price cap on what providers can charge ‘small use’ customers (such as households and small businesses), set by the state.2

Frequently asked questions

Which energy concessions are available in WA?

The Western Australian Government has a number of concessions available:

  • Hardship Utility Grant Scheme (HUGS): consumers experiencing financial hardship who have exhausted other strategies to pay overdue bills may be eligible for HUGS.
  • Energy Assistance Payment: concession cardholders with Horizon Power of Synergy may be eligible for an annual payment divided into daily amounts. This payment is then credited to the energy provider, who apply it to your energy bills (effectively reducing the overall cost).
  • Energy Concession Extension Scheme: this payment is the same as the Energy Assistance Payment and is designed to reduce the overall cost of electricity. It applies to concession cardholders who are with an electricity provider besides Synergy or Horizon Power.
  • Cost of Living Rebate: WA Senior’s Cardholders can apply for a payment to assist with the cost of living. Each July, the Western Australian Government deposits the payment into the bank accounts of applicants who have been approved to join the scheme.
  • Life Support Equipment Electricity Subsidy Scheme: Those with a Pensioner Card, Health Care Card, or a Health Care Interim Voucher who need life support equipment may be eligible for financial assistance to help cover their electricity bills.
  • Dependent Child Rebate: concession cardholders who have children living at home may be eligible for a rebate to cover their child’s energy needs.
  • Air Conditioning Rebate: concession cardholders may be eligible for a rebate to cover air conditioning costs during the hot summer months, depending on where they live in the state.

N.B. Information collated March 2021

Read more about rebates and concessions you may be eligible for and senior discounts you could be entitled to. Concession cards can include Pensioner Concession Cards, Senior’s Cards, Commonwealth Seniors Health Cards, Health Care Cards, and Department of Veteran Affairs Gold Cards. You can learn more about these concessions, and other utility concessions, with the state government’s list.

How much renewable energy is used in WA?

In WA, energy mostly comes from fossil fuels. In 2018-19 the state’s energy consumption consisted of:

  • Gas: 53%
  • Oil: 34.8%
  • Coal: 10.1%
  • Renewables: 2.1%3
Are solar feed-in tariffs available in WA?

Yes, there are solar feed-in tariffs available for those with solar energy at home. There are eligibility requirements to access these tariffs, which are part of the state’s Distributed Energy Buyback Scheme (DEBS).

How often will I receive an electricity bill in WA?

Typically, electricity customers in WA receive their electricity bills once every three months, though you may be able to choose to be billed monthly instead.

How often will I receive a gas bill in WA?

Gas customers will typically receive their bill every 105 days.

Can I compare gas providers in Perth?

You may be able to choose your gas provider, certainly. You can choose gas plans from the following providers (depending on your location, not all plans or providers may be available):

AGL
Alinta
Kleenheat
Origin
Perth Energy
Simply Energy
Synergy (if you use more than a set amount each year)

N.B. Information accurate as of March 2021.

Who is Western Power?

Western Power is the distributor that manages the network of powerlines within the SWIS region. In the SWIS region, electricity is generated by Synergy, transferred along the network operated by Western Power, and then sold on to customers by Synergy or other providers (if the consumer has a contestable meter).

Outside of the SWIS region, Horizon Power is responsible for generating, distributing and selling energy for consumers.

Who is ATCO?

ATCO operates three gas distribution systems across Western Australia and provides gas to 750,000 homes and businesses across the state. These distribution systems include The Mid-West and South-West systems, the Kalgoorlie Gas Distribution System and the Albany Gas Distribution System.4

Through 140,00km of pipeline, ATCO already services parts of Perth, Geraldton, Kalgoorlie, Albany and Brunswick, with gas connections soon to be available to other communities, including Upper Swan, Whitby and Two Rocks.

Gas retailers including Synergy, AGL and Alinta Energy sell this energy to homes and businesses across the state and manage your gas account.

Turn up the heat on your gas bills

Do you use natural gas at home in WA? We may be able to help you search for available gas plans and see if you can find savings. Our free comparison service makes it easy, and in minutes you could see available gas plans by usage and supply charges in minutes.

 

Sources

1. Electricity industry – Western Australian Government. 2020
2. Household gas pricing. Energy Policy WA, Government of Western Australia. 2020.
3. Can I choose my retailer? Economic Regulation Authority. 2018.
4. Atco – About the network – Accessed 07/04/2021

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