Electricity prices & plans

We want consumers to get the best price for their electricity. This page tells you how the Electricity Retail Code can help you find the best electricity deal.

What you need to know

Electricity companies must follow the Electricity Retail Code (the Code). The Code provides companies with a standard way of setting out their electricity prices, such as using the ‘reference price’. This makes it easier for you to compare prices and get the best deal.

The following information explains how to work out the best plan for you and how to compare electricity prices and plans.

Who this information is for

The Code, and most of the information on this page, is only for New South Wales, south-east Queensland and South Australia. If you live in these areas, you can use this information to find out more about getting the best deal.

For other areas, see the table below to compare your electricity costs and get the best deal.

State, territory or region Who to contact about your electricity
Regional Queensland Energy Made Easy
Australian Capital Territory Energy Made Easy
Tasmania Energy Made Easy
Victoria Victorian Energy Compare
Northern Territory Utilities Commission NT
Western Australia Economic Regulation Authority

Getting the best deal

A great way to save money on your electricity bill is to shop around by using one of the three Rs to compare plans:

  1. Reference price
    The Australian Government sets the reference price so you can quickly compare deals from different companies.
  2. Review
    You can review your electricity plan on the Energy Made Easy website. You just need to upload your bill or enter your usage and the site can help you find the best deal. We suggest comparing at least three plans.
  3. Rates
    Compare the electricity rates you are getting now with other companies’ rates. You can find your rates on your electricity bill.

1. Reference price

Using the reference price helps you compare ‘apples with apples’ when comparing plans.

A bigger percentage off the reference price usually means a cheaper plan.

The reference price is a benchmark price for electricity set by the Australian Government. It’s based on average electricity use in your area. You can compare different plans to the reference price to find a good deal.

Electricity companies must use a percentage to show you how their advertised price compares to the reference price. This includes all types of advertisements, such as on the electricity company’s website, on the radio, print ads and telesales. This makes it easy for you to compare different electricity plans and prices.

Example

PLAN A PLAN B
8% less than reference price 3% less than the reference price

In this case, Plan A is cheaper than Plan B if you use the average amount of electricity in your area.

Compare this percentage across different plans to get an idea of the best deal.

Conditional discounts

Some plans take money off your bill if you pay on time or pay by direct debit. These are called conditional discounts. If there are any conditional discounts on an electricity plan, companies must compare them to the reference price.

You can also compare conditional discounts across plans.

Example

PLAN C PLAN D
10% less than reference price 10% less than the reference price
plus an extra 5% off from the reference price if you always pay on time plus an extra 1% off from the reference price if you always pay on time

In this case, Plan C is cheaper than Plan D if you use the average amount of electricity in your area and always pay on time.

Estimated annual cost

Electricity companies must estimate a cost for the year with all the discounts included. You can use this price to help compare different plans.

You may end up paying more or less for electricity than advertised. These prices are based on the average electricity use for your area. If you use more electricity, your bill will be higher. If you use less electricity, your bill will be lower.

Electricity companies may give you an estimate based on your actual usage if you give them extra information, such as your street address.

What an ad might look like

An example of an electricity advertisement. The ad says Energy Us Saver 12 per cent off the reference price. Plus an extra 3 per cent below the reference price if you pay your bill on time! This off is based on a customer who uses 3,900 kWh a year on a flat rate tariff in the Ausgrid network. The lowest annual price when you always pay on time is $1,254. Your bill will differ based on your actual usage. The ad also has numbers 1 to 4 that correlate to a further explanation below.

In this ad:

  1. This advertisment shows how this plan compares to the benchmark price set by the Australian Government. This plan is 12% off the reference price. The reference price is $1,475 a year on a flat rate tariff. An ad may not show the reference price in dollars. However, you will see how the electricity plan compares to the reference price as a percentage.
  2. This plan also includes a conditional discount of an extra 3% off the reference price if you always pay on time. This means that if you always pay on time, the price would be 15% less than the reference price.
  3. This plan is based on average electricity use of 3,900 kWh per year in the Ausgrid network region.
  4. This is the estimated annual cost for average electricity use in the area including the conditional discount. This means someone who uses an average amount of electricity and always pays on time would pay $1,254 a year.

Do’s and don’ts of using the reference price to compare electricity plans:

  • Do compare the percentages off the reference price in different plans. It’s a quick and easy way to compare deals.
  • Do compare conditional discounts across different plans.
  • Do compare the lowest possible price across plans. It’s a quick and easy way to compare different deals.
  • Don’t read the lowest possible price as the price you will get under the plan – your bill will change depending on your usage.

Ausgrid network region

Ausgrid is one of the many electricity distributors that own the power lines and poles that supply electricity to your home or premises.

The Energy Made Easy website includes a list of distributors and the network regions they operate.

Flat rate tariff

Tariffs are used for calculating your bill. There are many different tariff types. Tariffs are explained on the Energy Made Easy website.

2. Reviewing your plan

To make sure you’re on the best deal, review your plan or talk to your electricity company once a year.

To work out the best plan for you, upload your bill or enter your usage information on the Energy Made Easy website.

Talk to your electricity company

You might not have to move to a different electricity company to get the best deal. Start by talking to your current electricity company to find out what deal they can offer you.

You could use these key questions to help.

  1. How does my current plan compare with the reference price?

    A higher percentage off the reference price will usually be a better deal for you.
     
  2. What’s your best deal at the moment?

    Don’t forget to ask how long a deal lasts. Try to lock in any savings by asking for the discount to be ongoing.
     
  3. Are there any conditional discounts on your plans? Can I save more by paying on time or setting up a direct debit?

    You might save more by paying on time or setting up a direct debit.

3. Rates

You can compare your current rates to rates in other electricity plans. One of the best ways to do this is to use your electricity bill.

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has information to help you understand your energy bill.

More about the Electricity Retail Code

The Code was introduced by the Australian Government in 2019. The aim of the Code is to help consumers compare electricity plans to get the best deal. Consumers can compare using the reference price, which is set by the Australian Government.

Before the reference price, different companies used different base prices. This meant that when they advertised discounts, it was hard for people to work out what was actually the best price. Now that all companies have to use the reference price as the base rate, it’s much easier to work out what’s the best deal.

The Code puts in place recommendations made in the ACCC’s Retail Electricity Pricing Inquiry.

For more information on the Code, visit the Electricity Retail Code page.

Getting help - your rights

Advertised prices

Tell us if you think an electricity company isn’t using the reference price when they should be. You can also tell us if you think a company’s advertising is misleading.

Problems with your current electricity company

If you have a problem with your electricity company, try talking to them to resolve it. If you still aren’t able to resolve it, you can send them your complaint in writing. This way the company is clearly aware of the problem and what you want. It also means that you have a record of what you’ve said.

Find out more about writing a complaint letter or use the complaint letter tool.

If you can’t resolve the issue with your electricity company, contact the Energy and Water Ombudsman in your state or territory. You can find the contact details for your Energy and Water Ombudsman on the Useful contacts page of the Energy Made Easy website.

The Get energy smart page on the Energy Made Easy website can also help you understand more about the different types of plans, what your rights are and what to do if you have a problem.

More information

Electricity Retail Code

Energy Made Easy

The ACCC’s role in energy

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