These questions and answers cover the basics of electricity prices. More information is available on the Queensland Government’s electricity tariffs and charges web page.
A typical electricity bill reflects the various cost and margin components that retailers incur when they supply electricity to their customers:
- network costs, which include costs to transport electricity via the electricity network and other costs such as the solar bonus scheme
- energy costs, which include costs to buy electricity from the wholesale market and the costs to comply with environmental schemes
- retail costs, which include costs for customer services like call centres and administrative tasks (e.g. sending bills), and metering services
- other costs, which include matters that we are required to consider under our legal framework (e.g. the standing offer adjustment) when we set notified prices for regional Queensland, or a retail margin reflecting the return to the retailer’s investors in the competitive market in south east Queensland.
Since 1 July 2016, retailers have been setting prices for south east Queensland (SEQ) customers in a competitive environment. Customers in SEQ can shop around for the best deal, like they do for many other goods and services. They can compare the prices of all the generally available electricity plans on the Australian Energy Regulator’s website, Energy Made Easy.
Retail competition is limited in regional Queensland and most consumers continue to be supplied by Ergon Energy under a standard contract. The QCA has been determining regulated retail electricity prices since 2007. In doing so, the QCA has regard to the Queensland Government’s uniform tariff policy (UTP), which provides that, wherever possible, customers of the same class should pay no more for their electricity, and should be able to pay for their electricity via similar common price structures, regardless of their geographic location. The UTP relies on the Queensland Government’s ongoing subsidisation of electricity prices to fund the shortfall (the difference between the cost of supply and the prices paid by customers) through the community service obligation (CSO) subsidy.
Electricity retail contracts fall in either of the two types:
Standard retail contracts
These are basic contracts with terms and conditions that are specified under the National Energy Retail Rules. While it is the default contract that a retailer provides to customers who have not accepted a market retail contract, the standard retail contract (often referred to as ‘standing offer’) may also apply where a customer:
- has moved into a new premises and started consuming electricity without contacting a retailer
- has been transferred to a retailer of last resort as a result of the failure of their retailer
- has not signed a new market contract when their existing market contract ended.
In south east Queensland, standing offer prices are capped by the default market offer (DMO) set annually by the Australian Energy Regulator. The DMO is a maximum price that retailers can charge electricity standing offer customers.
In regional Queensland, standing offer prices are the notified prices that are decided under section 90(1) of the Electricity Act 1994. The QCA has determined regulated retail electricity prices in regional Queensland annually since 2007.
Market retail contracts
Market retail contracts (often referred to as ‘market offers’) contain a minimum set of terms and conditions that are specified in the National Energy Retail Rules, and other terms that are agreed between the retailer and the small customer. These contracts may be generally available or offered only to specific customers, and may be for a fixed term or be ongoing. Some retailers may also provide contracts that have a fixed benefit period (e.g. a discount might only apply during the first year, while the contract is ongoing). Prices under market contracts are set by the retailer. Retailers can also differentiate their market offers through:
- benefits (such as frequent flyer points and gift cards)
- fees (e.g. payment processing, late payment or early termination fees)
- more innovative and tailored offers that match customers’ needs and preferences (e.g. plans that provide customers the option to support renewable or environmentally-friendly sources of electricity generation through programs such as GreenPower for an additional charge).
If you are unsure about your type of contract, it is best to ask your retailer.
Electricity tariffs generally include fixed and variable charges:
- fixed charges—a fixed amount charged daily to cover the costs of maintaining the electricity supply to any premises connected to the electricity network, even those with solar PV roof panels. It includes the costs of the ‘poles and wires’ that connect premises to the electricity network, and is sometimes also called a ‘service charge’, ‘daily supply charge’, ‘supply charge’, ‘fixed daily charge’, ‘regulated service fee/charge’ or ‘service to property charge’.
- variable charges—the amount you pay for each unit of electricity you consume. This is charged as cents per kilowatt hour (c/kWh) and may also be called ‘usage charge’, ‘consumption charge’ or similarly. Customers who are on a flat rate tariff only have one variable charge.
It is also important to distinguish between the types of tariffs:
- With a time-of-use tariff, the price of electricity (variable charge) varies depending on the time of day—there are generally peak, off-peak and shoulder rates.
- If a customer is on flat rate (single rate) tariff, there are no peak or off-peak periods, so the same variable rate applies at any time.
- Customers can have controlled load tariffs, which may be charged for some appliances (e.g. electric hot water systems, or slab or underfloor heating). A specific charge (rate) applies just for that appliance and the energy it uses.
- Demand tariffs have usage and supply charges, but a demand charge is added on top. Instead of demand being measured only as the amount of electricity used over time, demand is also measured as how intensely it is used.
More than one type of tariff is available to residential customers in regional Queensland. Most customers are on one of the following tariffs, or a combination of them:
- tariff 11—the main regulated residential tariff for regional customers. Customers pay the same rate for each unit of electricity they consume, plus a fixed daily charge
- tariffs 31 and 33—’off-peak’ or ‘controlled load’ tariffs for uses such as water heating and pool pumps (but customers have to be on tariff 11 first, before they can make use of these tariffs).
All the tariffs that are available to residential customers in regional Queensland (including the respective charges) are listed in the Queensland Government Gazette No. 27.
Most small business customers in regional Queensland are on tariff 20. Under this tariff, small businesses pay the same rate for each unit of electricity they consume, plus a fixed daily charge.
All the tariffs that are available to small business customers in regional Queensland (including the respective charges) are listed in the Queensland Government Gazette No. 27.
Typical customers on all major tariffs can expect their electricity bills to increase in 2023–24. This is mainly because energy costs are projected to increase. Reasons for the increase include that there has been high demand for energy at certain times and unplanned outages at coal-fired and gas-powered plants, which reduced generation availability. Also, coal and gas prices are higher, with the war in Ukraine and sanctions against Russia affecting these prices.
Until 2022–23, customers in regional Queensland paid separate charges to cover the costs of metering services. These services include the cost of the meter itself, maintenance, meter reading and processing metering data. In 2023–24, metering costs for accumulation and smart meters will be included in their fixed charge (daily supply charge). Metering costs for small customers on a primary tariff will be 17.71 cents/day. For small customers on a secondary tariff these costs will be 3.39 cents/day (excl GST).
Customers in SEQ and market contract customers in regional Queensland may see different metering charges, depending on the type of meter they have installed, the tariffs they are supplied on, and when the meter was installed. Metering charges may be included in their supply charge or appear separately as an item on the electricity bill. Customers should contact their retailer for more information on their metering charge.
The QCA sets regulated prices for customers in regional Queensland consistent with the Queensland Government’s uniform tariff policy (UTP). The UTP acts to subsidise the costs of supplying residential and small business customers in regional Queensland so that, wherever possible, customers of the same class should pay no more for their electricity, and should be able to pay for their electricity via similar common price structures, regardless of their geographic location. This subsidy was expected to be around $635 million in 2022–23 (including $66.6 million associated with isolated systems).
As Ergon Energy Queensland (EEQ) is the only retailer that has access to this subsidy, other unsubsidised retailers find it difficult to compete with EEQ. As a result, competition for customers in regional Queensland is limited.
We understand that the affordability of electricity is an issue for some regional customers. It is therefore important to note that the regulated prices for residential and small business customers in regional Queensland reflect the Queensland Government’s UTP, which subsidises electricity prices in regional Queensland so they are on par with prices in the south east of the state where costs are lower.
If you live in south east Queensland, we recommend that you shop around for the best deal. Electricity retailers have to publish all of their plans for residential and small business customers on Energy Made Easy—a website developed by the Australian Energy Regulator to help households and small businesses to compare plans. Given that Energy Made Easy is free and independent of commercial third parties, and includes all generally available electricity plans, we consider the website to be the best and most reliable tool available to south east Queensland customers to analyse, compare and choose electricity plans.
Due to the uniform tariff policy (see Q9), retail competition in regional Queensland is limited. If you live in regional Queensland, we recommend that you contact your retailer to explore options to reduce your energy costs, manage how energy is used (e.g. improvements to energy efficiency could reduce electricity bills) and compare tariff options (e.g. to best suit your needs and consumption patterns).
If you are struggling to pay your bill, you should discuss your situation with your retailer. Retailers are obliged to develop, maintain and implement customer hardship policies for their residential customers.
For further information on rebates and concession eligibility, contact the Department of Seniors, Disability Services and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships.
An overview of the various support measures and resources that customers have access is available on our website (see our information booklet on the 2023–24 determination, page 11).
If you are on a market offer, your retailer may attach a range of retail fees to your plan, including payment processing fees (for payments by credit/debit card, BPay or cheque, or through Australia Post), as well as fees for paper bills, dishonoured cheque or direct debit payments, late payments, membership and account establishment.
If you are on a standing offer, your retailer is only allowed, by law, to charge you three types of retail fees—historical billing data fee for data that is more than two years old (if requested by a customer), a retailer’s administration fee for a dishonoured payment, and financial institution fees for a dishonoured payment.
The Solar Bonus Scheme, which was closed to new customers on 30 June 2014, was a Queensland Government policy that offered eligible customers a 44 cent feed-in tariff for surplus electricity generated from small-scale photovoltaic (PV) systems and exported to the Queensland electricity grid. Customers who currently still receive this tariff rate (and maintain their eligibility) will receive this rate until the scheme’s expiry date on 1 July 2028.
A feed-in tariff is a payment to customers for surplus electricity from generated from solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and exported to the Queensland electricity grid.
For regional Queensland, the QCA determines a mandatory minimum feed-in tariff each year, as directed by the Minister. When a retailer sources electricity from solar PV customers rather than the National Electricity Market (NEM), it avoids some costs. The mandatory feed-in tariff for customers in regional Queensland in 2023–24 is 13.441 cents per kilowatt hour (c/kWh), which is the sum of the following avoided costs:
- wholesale energy costs—12.420 c/kWh
- NEM management fees—0.095 c/kWh
- ancillary services fees—0.047 c/kWh
- reliability and emergency reserve trader (RERT) scheme fees—0.004 c/kWh
- value of energy loses—0.785 c/kwh
- June 2022 market events—0.090 c/kWh.
For more information on the methodology and current mandatory feed-in tariff for customers in regional Queensland, see our information booklet and final report at Regional Queensland feed-in tariff 2023–24.
In south east Queensland, retailers compete for solar customers and set their own feed-in tariffs. Different retailers offer different feed-in tariffs, so we recommend that you shop around to find the best deal. Customers can compare energy plans on the Australian Energy Regulator’s energy price comparison website, Energy Made Easy. When choosing a plan, customers should take into account their electricity consumption and solar export. It is important to keep in mind that the electricity plan with the highest solar feed-in tariff may not necessarily be the best plan. Customers should also look at the supply and usage charges, which may be higher than those of other plans.
The Queensland Government provides more information on feed-in tariffs.
The actual value of electricity generated by solar PV units is considerably less than the retail price, because when retailers source energy from PV customers, they only avoid some of their normal business costs (such as costs of purchasing electricity from the National Energy Market (NEM) and the value of energy losses). However, they still incur most of their normal business costs (including retail operating costs and network charges). Therefore, a ‘one-for-one’ feed-in tariff would require the retailers to subsidise solar PV customers; and the cost of the subsidy would then need to be recovered through higher electricity prices.
A card-operated meter contains control equipment that switches on and off according to the amount of credit stored in the meter.
If you have a card-operated meter, power is credited to your meter from a plastic reusable card, which you can add credit to (also known as recharging) at a local retail agent.
For more information, see Ergon Energy Queensland’s website (at Card-operated meter customers) or phone 1800 850 451.
Since 1 July 2007, the price of piped natural gas in Queensland has been deregulated. Retailers are therefore responsible for setting prices for their customers. Customers can compare available gas plans on the Australian Energy Regulator’s Energy Made Easy price comparison website.
Retailers have to publish all their plans on the Australian Energy Regulator’s Energy Made Easy price comparison website. If you enter your postcode on this website, you will find all the plans (and retailers) that are currently available in your suburb.
In the first instance, you should contact your retailer directly. Your retailer’s contact details are on your bill.
If you are a residential or small business customer and you are unable to resolve the problem through your retailer’s complaints process, you can contact the Energy and Water Ombudsman Queensland (EWOQ), which provides a free dispute resolution service. You can reach EWOQ by phone (1800 622 837), post or through its online contact form.
General process for establishing a new connection
- Confirm if supply is available.
- Submit a network connection application to your distributor.
- Engage an electrical contractor.
- Choose an electricity retailer.
- Your distributor completes your request.
General process for making an alteration to an existing connection
- Submit a network connection application to your distributor.
- Engage an electrical contractor.
- Choose an electricity retailer.
- Your distributor completes your request.
For more information, please contact your distributor:
If you have received a disconnection notice, it is important to contact your retailer straightaway to avoid being disconnected. The contact details for your retailer should be printed on your disconnection notice.
If you have been disconnected, you should contact your retailer directly to correct the problem that led to disconnection, after which you may request reconnection.
If your retailer goes out of business, another retailer—known as the retailer of last resort (RoLR)—will become your supplier. The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) oversees the RoLR scheme. More information is available on the AER’s website (at Retailer failure).
Ergon Retail can supply customers in regional Queensland. Historically, once a residential or small business premises had been serviced by another retailer, the Queensland Government’s policy was that the premises could not return to Ergon Retail in future. However, the non-reversion policy has changed and now residential and small business customers in regional Queensland can return to Ergon Retail.
For more information, see Ergon Energy’s website (at Return to Ergon Retail).
This may be because you fall under an on-supply arrangement (embedded network), which is an arrangement where the owner or occupier of the premises (e.g. body corporate associated with blocks of residential or commercial units, shopping centre owners or caravan park owners) supplies and sells electricity to the occupants. The Australian Energy Regulator regulates this arrangement under the National Energy Customer Framework.