Electricity FAQs

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Electricity prices

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.

The ‘components’ of a typical electricity bill:

  • network costs—a complex system of infrastructure (‘poles and wires’) brings electricity from the power station to the home
  • energy costs—generating electricity comes at a cost, energy costs also include the costs associated with the renewable energy target
  • retailers’ costs—retailers have operating costs when selling electricity.

This means from 1 July 2016 retailers set prices for SEQ customers. These customers can shop around for the best deal, like they do for many other goods and services. They can, for example, compare prices on the Australian Energy Regulator’s website, Energy Made Easy.

More information:  The Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy (https://www.dnrme.qld.gov.au/energy)

Electricity retail contracts fall in either of the two types:

Standing 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 contract, the standing contract 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 prices have been deregulated and standing offer prices are set by retailers.

In regional Queensland, standing offer prices are the notified prices that are decided under section 90(1) of the Electricity Act 1994.

Market contracts

Market contracts 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 (‘evergreen’ contracts). Some retailers may also provide contracts that have a fixed benefit period (e.g. a discount might apply for a period that is less than the term of the contract). Prices under market contracts are set by the retailer. Retailers can also differentiate their market contracts through:

  • discounts
  • benefits such as frequent flyer points and gift cards
  • cash rebates
  • fees (e.g. payment processing, late payment or early termination fees)
  • more innovative and tailored offers that match customers’ needs and preferences (e.g. fixed price plans or 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’re unsure about your type of contract, it is best to ask your retailer.

More information: The Australian Energy Regulator (1300 585 165 or www.aer.gov.au).

This is 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 general administrative costs incurred by a retailer in supplying the electricity (e.g. costs associated with customer administration, call centres, corporate overheads, billing and revenue collection, IT systems, regulatory compliance, etc.).

It is sometimes also called a ‘service charge’, ‘daily supply charge’ or ‘service to property charge’.

More than one type of tariff is available to residential customers in regional Queensland. Most customers are on one, or a combination, of the following tariffs:

– Tariff 11—the main regulated residential tariff for regional customers. Under this tariff, customers pay the same rate for each unit of electricity consumed 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).

The regulated prices for regional customers on tariffs 11, 31 and 33 (excluding GST) are as follows:

2019–20 2020–21 2021–22
Tariff 11  
Service fee (cents/day) 90.345 90.676 88.392
Variable charge (cents/kWh) 23.661 21.756 19.782
Tariff 31  
Variable charge (cents/kWh) 17.913 14.932 13.026
Tariff 33  
Variable charge (cents/kWh) 19.268 16.331 14.313

Note: In addition to these charges, customers will also pay metering charges.

More information

Metering charges: See Q8, or contact your retailer or the Australian Energy Regulator (1300 585 165 or www.aer.gov.au).

Residential tariffs for 202122: See QCA website.

Most regional small business customers on a regulated tariff use one of two tariffs:

  • Tariff 20—the main type of tariff for small business customers. Under this tariff, small businesses pay the same rate for each unit of electricity consumed plus a fixed daily charge.
  • Tariff 22A—this tariff was introduced on 1 July 2015. Under this tariff, customers pay a consumption charge that varies according to the time of day when electricity is consumed plus a fixed daily charge.

The regulated charges for regional customers on tariffs 21 and 22A  (excluding GST) are as follows:

2019–20 2020–21 2021–22
Tariff 20  
Service fee (cents/day) 124.936 128.266 121.032
Variable charge (cents/kWh) 24.432 23.258 22.551
Tariff 22A  
Service fee (cents/day) 124.936 118.338 110.206
Peak/shoulder rate (cents/kWh) 60.498 54.496 54.463
Off-peak (cents/kWh) 22.890 21.777 20.760

Note: In addition to these charges, customers will also pay metering charges.

More information

Metering charges: See Q8, or contact your retailer or the Australian Energy Regulator (1300 585 165 or www.aer.gov.au).

Small-business tariffs for 202122: see QCA website.

For most tariffs and customers, wholesale energy costs have declined. This decrease in wholesale energy costs have been partially offset by higher network costs. In general, most customers can expect to pay slightly less for electricity in 2021–22, but the impact on an individual basis will depend on tariff/s and the consumption level of the customer.

Customers pay charges to cover the costs of metering services. These services include the cost of the meter itself, maintenance, meter reading and processing metering data. From 1 July 2021, the following metering charges apply for residential and small business customers standing offer customers in regional Queensland:

Charge (cents/day)

Primary tariff (eg tariff 11, 20, etc)
Capital charge

7.106

Non-capital charge

3.330

Secondary tariff (eg tariff 31, 33)
Capital charge

2.053

Non-capital charge

0.988

Which of these charges, or combinations of charges, regional customers will have to pay depends on the tariffs they are supplied on, and when the meter was installed.

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 service fee or separately as a separate line item on the electricity bill.

More information: Contact your retailer for more information.

The QCA sets regulated prices for regional customers consistent with the Queensland Government’s uniform tariff policy (UTP). The UTP acts to subsidise the costs of supplying some residential and small business customers in regional Queensland so that, wherever possible, non-market customers of the same class would pay no more for their electricity, regardless of their geographic location. This subsidy was around $454 million in 2020–21.

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 some 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 the regions so they are on par with prices in the lower cost south east of the state.

More information:

The Department of Energy and Public Works (https://www.epw.qld.gov.au/services/energy)

For further information on rebates and concession eligibility, call the Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors on 1800 460 849.

We recommend that you shop around for the best deal, if you live in south east Queensland.

However, due to the uniform tariff policy (see Q9), retail competition in regional Queensland is limited.

Ergon small business and residential customers in regional Queensland who meet the following requirements are eligible for the EasyPay Reward scheme:

  • receive bills electronically
  • pay bills either weekly, fortnightly or monthly (as agreed) by direct debit or CentrePay by the due date
  • accept bill smoothing.

The EasyPay reward scheme provides an annual reward of $75 to residential customers and $120 to small business customers.

More information: The Australian Energy Regulator’s energy price comparison website, Energy Made Easy.

If you are struggling to pay your bill, you should discuss your situation with your retailer. Retailers offer support to their customers in hardship.

The Queensland Government also offers support to customers in some circumstances.

More information: The Department of Energy and Public Works.

Solar

The Solar Bonus Scheme, which was closed to new customers on 30 June 2014, was a Queensland Government policy that paid eligible customers a feed-in tariff for surplus electricity generated from small-scale photovoltaic (PV) systems and exported to the Queensland electricity grid.

The scheme was replaced on 1 July 2014. In south east Queensland, retailers compete for solar customers and set their own feed-in tariffs. In regional Queensland, a mandatory minimum feed-in tariff is determined by the QCA each year, as directed by the Minister.

More information: Feed-in tariffs | Homes and housing | Queensland Government (www.qld.gov.au)

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.

When a retailer sources electricity from solar PV customers rather than the National Electricity Market (NEM), it avoids some costs. These cost components are summed to determine the solar feed-in tariff.

The mandatory feed-in tariffs for 2017–18 to 2021–22 are as follows:

Cost component Cents/kWh

2017–18

2018–19

2019–20

2020–21

2021–22

Wholesale energy costs

9.275

8.818 7.558 7.241

6.109

NEM fees

0.053

0.053 0.063 0.071

0.049

Ancillary service fees

0.034

0.043 0.037 0.153

0.041

Value of avoided energy losses

0.740

0.455 0.184 0.396

0.384

Feed-in tariff

10.102

9.369 7.842 7.861

6.583

More information:

The following QCA final reports:

The feed-in tariff for a customer in south east Queensland (Energex distribution area) is determined by negotiation between the retailer and the customer. Different retailers offer different feed-in tariffs and you can find the best deal by shopping around.

More information:  The Australian Energy Regulator’s energy price comparison website, Energy Made Easy.

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 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.

Card-operated meters

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.

More information: Ergon Energy Queensland, card-operated meter customers (or phone 1800 850 451).

For a list of sales agents that sell power cards, contact  Ergon Energy Queensland (1800 850 451) or see the list of Retail Agents.

Gas

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.

More information: the Australian Energy Regulator’s EnergyMadeEasy price comparison website.

Other matters

The Australian Energy Regulator’s website provides this information.

You should contact your retailer directly.  Your retailer’s contact details are on your bill.

If you are a residential or small buisness customer and you are unable to resolve the problem through your retaile’s complaints process,  you can contact the Energy and Water Ombudsman Queensland (EWOQ), which provides a free dispute resolution service.

More information: EWOQ (1800 622 837 or the EWOQ website).

General process for establishing a new connection

  1. Confirm if supply is available.
  2. Submit a network connection application to your distributor.
  3. Engage an electrical contractor.
  4. Choose an electricity retailer.
  5. Your distributor completes your request.

General process for making an alteration to an existing connection

  1. Submit a network connection application to your distributor.
  2. Engage an electrical contractor.
  3. Choose an electricity retailer.
  4. Your distributor completes your request.

For more information, please contact your distributor:

  • For south east Queensland customers — Energex (131 253 or refer to website)
  • For regional customers— Ergon Energy (131 046 for residential customers and 131 046 for business customers or refer to website)
  • For customers in the Goondiwindi, Texas and Inglewood areas— Essential Energy (13 23 91 or refer to website).

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.

More information: The Australian Energy Regulator (1300 585 165) oversees the RoLR scheme.

Ergon Energy Queensland 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. Nevertheless, the premises was still entitled to be supplied under the same notified prices from the new retailer. However, the non-reversion policy has changed and now residential and small business customers in regional Queensland can return to Ergon Retail.

 

This may be because you fall under an on-supply arrangement, 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.

More information: The Australian Energy Regulator (1300 585 165), who regulates this arrangement under the National Energy Customer Framework.