Western Australia’s electricity sector might seem complex to the uninitiated. Never fear, we’re here to shed some light on the industry and help you make a better decision when it comes to your energy bill.
We’ve put everything you need to know about Western Australia electricity suppliers into one handy guide. Gain a better understanding of how the industry works, find out if you’re eligible for a rebate and learn more about how proposed legislation might impact you as a consumer.
A quick look at Western Australia’s electricity industry
According to the state government’s Department of Finance, most of Western Australia’s electricity is generated via traditional means such as coal and gas. Diesel and renewable sources such as biomass, solar and wind also play a role in producing energy, though their share is relatively small in comparison.
There are three key government-owned generators in Western Australia. The energy they produce is distributed to retailers, who sell the electricity to commercial and residential consumers across the state. They are:
- Horizon Power: Generates, distributes and sells electricity in regions beyond the South West Interconnected System (SWIS).
- Synergy: Takes care of generating and selling energy within the SWIS.
- Western Power: Accountable for the construction, maintenance and day-to-day operation of the power chain within the SWIS.
Is electricity regulated in Western Australia?
In recent years, many states in Australia have made moves to deregulate their respective electricity industries, which allow energy providers to set their own prices. Regular Aussies typically benefit from this arrangement, as companies often introduce competitive pricing plans in the hopes of gaining more customers.
Despite the advantages of full retail competition, the state government continues to impose electrical regulations on the Western Australia energy sector. In effect, this means that you as a consumer have less power to compare electricity suppliers, as competition is stifled and prices are similar across the board.
However, such a system does come with some benefits. As the Western Australia Department of Finance noted, the state’s regulated industry means that Horizon Power and Synergy must charge small-use consumers and some large customers at the same price, regardless of where they’re located. This means that if you live in a remote part of Western Australia, where the cost of electricity distribution is significantly higher than metropolitan areas, you won’t be penalised based merely on your geography.
Instead, the state government makes up the difference. In the 2012/13 financial year, for example, the government paid a subsidy of around $371 million, ensuring that electricity users in remote areas did not have to pay more than those living in high population density areas.
What is the ‘Western Australia Electricity Market Review’ all about?
The Western Australia electricity market may be regulated, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the industry will stay that way forever. In fact, the government has taken a fairly progressive approach and is open to making modifications to the electricity sector where necessary.
One example of this is the Electricity Market Review. What’s it all about? Well, as the Department of Finance explained, it’s essentially an assessment of Western Australia’s energy industry which, among other things, evaluates how effectively current incentives are at encouraging electricity suppliers to minimise costs.
It’s hoped that after the review has been carried out, the government will be able to:
- Attract private electricity providers to Western Australia;
- Minimise its exposure to risks associated with the electricity sector; and
- Reduce the overall cost of electricity generation and distribution in Western Australia.
All of these objectives will help foster more competition within the state’s energy industry, which will ultimately provide consumers with more options in terms of retailers and electricity pricing plans.
By keeping an eye on the latest developments of the review, you’ll be in a strong position to switch to an energy provider that meets your needs when the opportunity arises, and understand fully why you should.
How can a Western Australia electricity rebate help you?
If you’re struggling to cope with your utility bill, you’ll be pleased to learn that there are a number of rebates in Western Australia that may be able to provide you with financial assistance.
Once such concession is the Energy Assistance Payment, which provides eligible electricity customers with up to $227.14 split into daily amounts credited to their energy bills. According to the Department of Finance, you may be entitled to this rebate if you hold one of the following:
- Veterans’ Affairs Pensioner Concession Card
- Centrelink Pensioner Concession Card
- Veterans’ Affairs Gold Card
- Centrelink Health Care Card
Alternatively, if you have dependent children and are in possession of one of the aforementioned cards, you may be eligible for the Dependent Child Rebate. This concession provides you per day with 75.66 cents for one child, 95.49 cents for two children, 115.32 cents for three children or 135.14 cents for four children.
To find out if you’re eligible for these or other rebates, get in touch with your energy provider.
The electricity industry in Western Australia has historically been tightly regulated, but it’s possible that we could see things change in the future. Armed with this information, you’ll be better poised to make a more informed decision when it comes to comparing energy providers in Western Australia when the time is right and be able to unlock greater savings on your household power bill.