You’ve probably heard the news that retail electricity prices will be deregulated in South East Queensland from 1 July 2016. But what does this really mean for households in the Sunshine State and how is it going to affect your electricity bills?
Read on as we answer some of the common questions around electricity deregulation and how Queenslanders can use the competitive energy market to their advantage.
In simple terms, deregulation of electricity prices in South East Queensland means that energy retailers will now have complete freedom to compete on power prices in the region. As far as households are concerned, this increased competition in the energy market could lead to three things:
1. Cheaper electricity prices. With a wider range of energy plans in the market, electricity retailers will try to out do each other and lure new customers by offering lower electricity prices.
2. More discount options. Lower electricity costs are likely to be accompanied by more discount offers for customers to choose from.
3. New energy providers. Now that energy retailers will be able to offer more price options and discount offers in the state, Queensland is likely to see new and innovative providers enter the market.
The state government is set to introduce electricity price deregulation to the Energex area, which is a distribution network that spans across South East Queensland and includes Brisbane, Ipswich, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast.
While the Queensland electricity deregulation will give you access to a range of new electricity plans and price structures, to really take advantage of this competitive energy market, here’s what you need to do:
More retailers entering South East Queensland will mean more choice and a greater number of ways to make a saving. To ensure you’re across all these new money saving energy options, it’s important to compare the different energy providers and plans in your area using an online electricity comparison tool.
While comparing power retailers, here are a few things to look out for:
Price: Have a look at both consumption as well as supply charges to shortlist the cheapest energy deal for your household. If you want to know more about electricity prices and the additional charges that contribute to your energy bill, read our detailed article on power costs and how to control them
Customer service: Read energy reviews by real consumers to know how a particular provider stacks up in terms of customer satisfaction
Online accounts: Check if the provider offers digital solutions like an online account or a mobile app to track your usage, pay your bills and make changes to your plan
Renewable energy: Amongst all the states in Australia, Queensland has the highest proportion of households (29.6%) with solar PV. If you already have a solar rooftop or are planning to install solar panels, look at a provider that offers solar plans and battery storage solutions
Discounts can be a great incentive to sign up with a new energy provider. But it’s also important to weigh up the benefits of the discount over an extended period of time to ensure you’re going to make real savings. Here are a few factors to keep in mind:
Long term saving: A retailer offering $50 off your first bill might sound good but if this means you’ll end up with a higher ongoing consumption fee compared to your current provider, it might not make sense to switch
Conditional discounts: There are electricity providers that offer discounts if you always pay your bills on time or sign up for a direct debit account. This can result in significant savings, but only if you’re able to fulfil the conditions every time. So think about it and go ahead with the energy plan if you’re sure you can always make a timely payment or have enough balance in your account for a direct debit arrangement
Exit fees: Some energy plans offer discounts if you agree to sign up for an account that extends over a longer period of time but keep in mind you may need to shell out an exit fee if you cancel the contract before its end date (generally, this fee is around $20). But the good news is if you do find a cheaper plan down the track, you’re likely to make a much bigger saving, which will offset this fee. As a rule of thumb, it’s always a good idea to read through the fine print and know the exact terms and conditions of the discount.
The bottom line is a deregulated energy market means more choice for Queenslanders. And if you’re savvy enough to compare the best plans and find the cheapest electricity prices, you could see your annual electricity bill go down by the end of the year.