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Best electricity providers for 2020: AGL, Energy Locals and Enova Energy

The best retailers for call response, complaints and environmental sustainability over the past 12 months.

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CHOICE staff
CHOICE staff
Last updated: 26 April 2021
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Electricity is a necessity, but electricity bills can be a nasty surprise (or even something you dread receiving). It doesn't have to be like that. 

Savvy consumers treat utilities such as electricity and gas as something you switch as often as possible to make sure you're always getting the best price. 

Better $50 going into your pocket than someone else's, right? And sometimes it can be much, much more of a saving – which is always a pleasant surprise.

We've pored over the Australian Energy Regulator Reports and Victorian Energy Market Report so you don't have to. Here's what we found.

Who is the best electricity provider in NSW and South East Queensland?

CHOICE only recommends energy retailers that get 85% overall for their score, 98% for complaints and 70% for both call response and green energy guide. 

Servicing New South Wales and South East Queensland, Enova, AGL and Energy Locals come up trumps in these states with complaints scores at 98% or better, customer service of at least 70% or better and green energy guide scores at 70% or better. In addition, AGL is now carbon neutral according to the Climate Active website run by the government.

Both Enova and Energy Locals are Australian owned, while AGL is publicly owned (partly Australian). Only AGL services both electricity and gas. Size-wise, AGL has just under 2 million residential subscribers nationally, whereas Energy Locals has just under 24,000 and Enova Energy just over 8000.

Who is the best electricity provider in South Australia and Victoria?

Servicing South Australia and Victoria, AGL and Energy Locals come out on top in these states with complaints scores at 98% or better, customer service of at least 70% or better and green energy guide scores at 70% or better. In addition, AGL is now carbon neutral according to the Climate Active website run by the government. 

Energy Locals are Australian owned, while AGL is publicly owned (partly Australian). Only AGL services both electricity and gas. Size-wise, AGL has just under 2 million residential subscribers nationally, whereas Energy Locals has just under 24,000.

Who is the best electricity provider overall?

The ACT, NSW, South Australia, South East Queensland, Tasmania and Victoria are deregulated. That means there isn't an Australia-wide best Australian electricity provider, however AGL and Energy Locals served NSW, Victoria, South Australia and South East Queensland well, and Enova Energy was a good option across South East Queensland and NSW (see How we get our results). The ACT and Tasmania are smaller markets, but Energy Locals also serves these communities best out of the scored options.

We weren't able to bring you the best energy retailer last year because we were using a different set of data. However, since we're using both Australian Energy Regulator and Victorian Energy Market Reports data, we can give a larger scope of the better outcomes for energy retailers across deregulated areas in Australia.

What are the biggest problems with electricity retailers?

We found a small number of electricity providers that showed a number of issues during the year, including:

Complaints with electricity providers

There are a decent chunk of complaints put through every year against energy retailers, but some of them outstrip others. 

  • You'll see that no retailer scores below 90%, but that doesn't mean they're all great. Look for ones that have at least 98%.
  • Larger retailers often have many more complaints, but measured against their size of subscribers it makes the percentage of complaints quite small.

It's not all bad – electricity providers that are actually decent when it comes to complaints

  • Plenty of retailers have great results on their complaints score, and call response times can be excellent as well. Drill down on the graphic above that covers all scored retailers to find which ones invest in their customer service. High results in both complaints and call response means a better investment.

Green energy rating problems with electricity providers

  • Even though the Green Electricity Guide hasn't been updated since 2018, it gives a pretty good indication of where the market lies, but doesn't include some of the newer entrants in the market. Some energy retailers are investing into their carbon neutral activities – when we first did a Best Electricity Retailer last year, only Power Shop and Energy Australia were registered as climate neutral under the government standard known as Climate Active. Now AGL, Origin, Powerdirect (by sourcing the Climate Active product from AGL), ReAmped and Simply Energy have joined those ranks.

It's not all bad – electricity providers that are actually decent when it comes to green energy

  • There are also plenty that offer green electricity plans – and some even offer more than one plan if you want to go for a percentage of green energy or the whole hog.

How do I switch electricity providers?

You don't have to go to commercial switching sites like iSelect and Comparethemarket that have some troubling issues. There are some free alternatives such as Energy Made Easy, a federal government initiative, as well as some state-based switching options such as Vic Compare

CHOICE has partnered with Bill Hero, who follow the same methodology as our previously run business, Transformer. They'll ask for a subscription which they use to monitor your bills and swap you to the cheaper energy site, covering both electricity and gas.

Climate Active

While we don't include the Climate Active program as a scoring element in our recommendation for Best Energy retailer, we recognise that working towards attaining Climate Active certification creates healthy competition between energy suppliers and retailers. Working towards net zero emissions makes it easier for consumers to select carbon neutral energy if they want to. As more energy suppliers and retailers attain the Climate Active standard, we'll add this into our scoring methodology as to how many of their products are Climate Active as well as their organisation.