Two retailers actively market to small customers – ActewAGL and TRUenergy – but others such as Country Energy and EnergyAustralia also have domestic customers. The average discount from the regulated price is just $19 per year, according to a 2009 Australian Energy Regulator report that used CHOICE data. “Low profit margins for retailers mean few are interested in entering the ACT market,” says Janey Paterson, an electricity pricing expert who ran CHOICE’s energy price comparison website.
Nevertheless, by June 2008 about one in five of all customers had moved from the regulated rate to market contracts, either with their present retailer or by switching. Paterson says market contracts with ActewAGL are cheaper than the regulated rates.
New South Wales
According to the NSW Energy & Water Ombudsman there are 13 retailers currently active in the NSW retail market - the biggest in Australia - with two more currently licenced and ramping up to supply. A recent CHOICE investigation showed the switching rate in 2010 was about 11%, with the average saving about $87 per annum, depending on the region. However, such savings are not available for all customers.
The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) has approved price rises over the next two years (three years from March 2010) including an increase in the allowable profit margin for retailers. This will enable retailers to offer bigger discounts off the raised regulated price, stimulating competition. But won’t necessarily mean lower prices.
IPART also offers a free online price comparison to compare different deals from NSW energy and gas retailers.
Just one active retailer, the Power and Water Corporation, markets to small customers. However, the NT is phasing in full retail competition and contestability; the last phase of this process — for domestic customers and small businesses — began in April 2010. The market is currently open for other retailers to supply electricity to NT consumers.
By September 2009, there were 11 active retailers for consumers, with 44% of customers on a market contract and the remainder paying government regulated rates. About 15% of small customers switched during 2008-09.
Competition is mainly limited to Brisbane and the Gold Coast. In May 2009, an Australian Energy Regulator report found average switching savings in Brisbane of $95. More recently, Queensland’s Competition Authority has released Notified Electricity Prices 2011-12. According to The Authority the BRCI will increase by 6.60% between 2010-11 and 2011-12. Find out more on the Queensland Competition Authority website.
A price comparison service, is available from the government Power to choose website. Further information is available from the Department of Energy.