Electricity offers fall in either of the two types of offer:
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. However, for the first year of deregulation, once retailers have set standing offer prices they were not allowed to increase their prices.
In regional Queensland, standing offer prices are the notified prices that are decided under section 90(1) of the Electricity Act 1994.
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:
- 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).
To maximise the savings potential that having a solar system installed can offer, the optimal scenario is for a site to utilize all of the energy generated by the system. Any extra energy can be fed back into the grid, in which case, the system’s owner is paid a per kWh fee from the energy retailer, known as a Feed in Tariff. The price paid for electricity fed into the grid is usually less than the retail price of electricity bought from the grid.
The installation of Power Factor Correction Equipment is a cost effective way of improving the efficiency of your electrical power system, reducing the cost of your electricity and carbon emissions. PFC equipment can be installed in new and existing electrical systems. You should consider getting a PFC quote completed by Watt Utilities if your Power Factor is under 0.90.
Stepped pricing means the pricing will vary year to year depending on the contract term you choose. Current markets have the pricing generally higher in year 1 and then it lowers year to year but this does change. Flat pricing means once you choose your term length (i.e. 12, 24, 36, 48 months etc) the pricing will be the same every year for that chosen term.
EWR (Electricity works request) and a safety certificate both filled out and completed by an electrician. The time varies depending on the electricity retailer and how quickly the required documents are submitted, however the time process can be from 15-30 days until completion.
Fill out and sign Watt Utilities LOA & provide details of new account (i.e, name, ABN etc) for an account to be established with an electricity retailer. Ensure the main switch on site is turned off. Depending on which retailer, this can be completed within 3 days, however allow up to 7 days.
Send Watt Utilities a recent bill and your council rates or water notice showing correct address so that the retailer can amend your address in their national database.
Changes in prices generally reflect variations in electricity demand, availability of generation sources, fuel costs, weather fluctuation, major events being held and power plant availability. Prices are usually highest in the summer and winter when total demand is high because more expensive generation sources are added to meet the increased demand.
Every site needs a metering 'charge' to be billed. Retail electricity contracts allow consumers to enter into a Direct Metering Agreement (DMA). By entering into such agreements organized by Watt Utilities, we have system capabilities to compare your exact metered data that the retailer receives against your electricity invoice, therefore this is how any errors on your bills are able to be identified. Electricity users benefit from greater control of metering and data services through more detailed metering data. Watt Utilities can also create better reporting to see how effective your electrical equipment is working while identifying areas of improvement to save costs. The alternative to a DMA is the retailer will simply charge their 'standard default metering' to your monthly bills, although you won't reap any of the above benefits.
Watt Utilities watches the electricity market up to 12 months before your contract ends and when we see a drop in pricing, we recommend you go to tender to lock in competitive rates ahead of time. We do this because leaving your contract renewal to the last minute is a huge risk, the electricity market is extremely volatile and we never know where the market will be towards your contract expiry date. Leaving this to last minute may lead to an increase in electricity costs and unfavourable rates so it is best to take advantage of the pricing while it is low.
Default rates vary depending on the retailer, they are charged if you fall out of contract. They can be up to 3 times higher than what you would normally pay for electricity.
If you are a small market customer, you are not locked into a contract and you can move retailers at any time.