Looking for a better deal on electricity? Compare electricity plans and providers in Queensland with Canstar Blue’s annual customer satisfaction review and ratings.
* Overall satisfaction is an individual rating and not a combined total of all ratings. Brands with equal overall satisfaction ratings are listed in alphabetical order.
Canstar Blue research finalised December 2016, published February 2017.
See our Ratings Methodology.
The Queensland electricity market has undergone a period of significant change, but the good news for consumers in the South-East of the state is that it means increased price competition and the potential for bigger savings. With up to 17 different electricity providers now operating in Brisbane and the surrounding areas, households have never had so many options to choose from. However, with choice often comes confusion, which is why Canstar Blue aims to shine a light on the Queensland electricity market, the providers, plans and tariffs available, and how you can reduce your costs.
Amongst other things, this review will guide you through the following:
This report is a one-stop-shop for all of your Queensland electricity questions. But before we go into detail, let us first point you in the direction of our customer satisfaction rating above. Each year, we canvas the opinions of Queensland electricity customers across the state, to find out which retailers are rated highest and which have work to do, based on a number of important variables, including the quality of customer service they deliver, the clarity of billing information they provide, and the value for money they offer. This year, AGL and EnergyAustralia have both been rated highest overall.
Replacing Click Energy at the top of the ratings table from last year, AGL and EnergyAustralia both received five stars for overall satisfaction, but Queenslanders are rightly hard to please when it comes to price, with scores of four and three stars respectively when it comes to value for money. Click Energy received three stars overall this time out, but maintained top marks on value. It was four stars overall for Origin, but just two on value – the same scores recorded by Ergon Energy, the only electricity retailer throughout regional Queensland.
It’s important to understand that, when it comes to electricity, the Sunshine State is split into two very different geographical areas. In 2016, the Queensland Government decided to follow in the footstep of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia by deregulating the electricity market in the South-East of the state, meaning the energy companies are now free to set their own products, prices and conditions – a move designed to increase competition and eventually lower costs to consumers. Previously stuck on ‘standard’ contracts – with basic conditions that are set out by law – electricity customers in deregulated areas of Queensland can now sign up to ‘market offer’ contracts which provide the opportunity to save through lower base rates and conditional discounts.
Households in SE QLD have been able to switch electricity providers since 2007 when Full Retail Competition was introduced, but price regulations meant there was virtually no cost benefit of doing so. Competition has increased since price restrictions were lifted, with a handful of new retailers entering the market, but so far there has been no dramatic reduction in overall costs. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t save.
Meanwhile, it’s a case of ‘as you were’ for the rest of Queensland, with the state Government continuing to control electricity pricing, and Ergon Energy the only provider for regional areas. To summarise:
To illustrate the difference between standard and market contracts, the Australian Energy Regulator’s 2016 report on the state of the Queensland electricity market showed that the average annual electricity bill on the median market offer was roughly 5% cheaper than the median standing offer. Once discounts on market contracts are taken into account, potential savings increase dramatically to as much as 15%, Canstar Blue research has found.
2016 was also a significant year for the Queensland electricity market as the state Government decided to merge Queensland’s two electricity distributors, Ergon Energy and Energex. As well as providing retailer services throughout regional Queensland, Ergon Energy is also the energy distributor, meaning it is responsible for managing and improving the vast infrastructure which delivers power to your home. Energex is the electricity distributor for SE QLD. The state-owned companies have now been brought together under parent company Energy Queensland, based in Townsville.
Households in South-East Queensland can choose from up to 17 different electricity providers, offering a range of different tariffs, plans, rates and sign-up incentives. The providers featuring in our customer satisfaction ratings may have the biggest market share, but that doesn’t mean the others aren’t worth considering. The residential electricity providers in SE QLD are:
It’s worth noting that some of the retailers listed currently only offer basic standard contracts for South-East Queensland, meaning they are unlikely to result in the cheapest rates. Market contracts will almost always work out cheaper for consumers, provided that the conditions of any discounts are met. Some providers, such as Powerdirect and QEnergy, are more established as small business electricity retailers, but still have residential plans.
With so many different energy providers operating in South-East Queensland, households have a wide variety of plans to pick from. The vast majority of market electricity contracts come with variable rates, meaning the retailer can adjust prices at any time. However, EnergyAustralia and AGL both offer fixed rate energy plans in Queensland, meaning customers can lock in rates that do not change for two years, offering some protection against price increases. Origin Energy, on the other hand, offers a fixed cost energy plan called Predictable Plan, whereby customers lock in a set amount to be paid every billing period, regardless of their power usage.
While AGL, Origin and EnergyAustralia dominate the SE QLD market, other retailers are trying to stand out with a more simplified approach. Dodo Power & Gas, for example, offers just one market contract with competitive rates, while Red Energy simply gives prospective customers the option of its single plan with or without GreenPower, the Government-accredited scheme that sees customers make extra contributions to renewable energy generation.
Another retailer worth a mention is Mojo Power. As a new entrant into the Queensland market since price deregulation, Mojo Power brings something different to the table. It gives customers access to what it calls ‘wholesale’ electricity prices, provided they first purchase an ‘EnergyPass’ for a monthly or annual discounted fee. This largely negates the overall savings that households can make, but those with very high energy usage stand to gain the most.
Meanwhile, Powershop gives customers the opportunity to save in the long run with the sale of “power packs” through its online store. The idea is that you can purchase your power ahead of time at lower rates. The catch is that you’ll have to log on to the website at least once a month to get the best deals.
Whether you’re on a standard or market contract, or have a variable rate or fixed rate plan, the two main costs that make up your bill are supply and usage charges:
For most households, usage charges will make up the majority of your overall costs. However, smaller households should pay particular attention to supply charges.
While most electricity providers offer plans tailored to solar power customers, it’s also worth taking a look at other specialist renewable energy retailers such as Diamond Energy and Urth Energy, who both provide unique products. Diamond Energy boasts a plan with a feed-in tariff of up to 100 cents per kWh during periods of high demand, while Urth Energy offers the only variable rate solar feed-in tariff on the market.
2016 also proved an important year for existing solar power customers in Queensland, with the Government rejecting recommendations to scrap the state’s lucrative Solar Bonus Scheme with which eligible households will continue to receive a generous feed-in tariffs for the energy they export to the grid. However, the decision was not welcomed by everyone, with non-solar power customers left to pick up the bill.
Unless you’re interested in a fixed rate or fixed cost electricity plan like those mentioned above, it can be hard to tell one plan from the next. That’s why energy discounts have become a crucial marketing tool for the retailers, with headline offers of up to 16% off usage rates now common. However, it’s important to understand that the electricity plans with the biggest discounts don’t necessarily result in the lowest prices for consumers. This is because the savings can be negated by higher usage rates or supply charges.
With the average electricity bill in SE Queensland around $1,500 a year, this will be putting a serious financial pressure on some households. As such, the Queensland Government offers energy rebates for eligible pensioners and seniors. The Electricity Rebate could knock almost $330 off a customer’s annual bill. Rebates may also be available for Health Care Card holders and asylum seekers. Contract your retailer for details.
In addition to a growing number of different electricity plans, households in SE Queensland can also benefit from a number of tariff options. An electricity tariff is the pricing structure within a plan which the retailer charges customers based on their energy consumption. All energy plans have a daily fixed charge for the supply of power to the premises, but the variable rates for the energy you use can change depending on when and how you use energy, broadly referred to as ‘single rate’ or ‘time of use’ tariffs.
A single rate tariff means you are charged the same amount for electricity whatever time of day you happen to use it, while time of use tariffs can have multiple prices depending on when you use power. Time of use tariffs come with ‘peak’ and ‘off-peak’ rates – with electricity more expensive during periods of high demand – as well as ‘shoulder’ rates for times in between. While single rate tariffs can be used with any type of energy meter, households will need a smart meter or interval meter to use a time of use tariff.
In Queensland, the following electricity tariffs are available. Remember that prices in SE QLD are set by the retailers, with those in other areas set by the Queensland Competition Authority.
If you have a smart meter, there are likely savings to be made with time of use tariffs. However, you first need to understand the different pricing structures to find a deal that works for you.
While our customer ratings offer an insight into the ‘value for money’ electricity providers are deemed to offer (i.e. price versus the quality of service received), Canstar Blue also calculates electricity costs for households to show which providers deliver the cheapest overall costs to customers in South-East Queensland. ‘Cheapest’ doesn’t automatically mean ‘best’, but for a helpful guide on electricity costs in Brisbane and the surrounding areas, consult our dedicated cost comparison report. You will notice that there is not a huge difference in costs between the providers we have compared, but as competition continues to increase, this is likely to change.
Picking a new electricity provider is not a simple decision, but the good news is that most offer plans with no fixed term agreements, meaning you can easily switch if things don’t work out as you had hoped (i.e. they prove too expensive or their customer service isn’t up to scratch). Our customer reviews offer a helpful insight into how existing customers rate the biggest operators in Queensland – and our cost comparison report shows where you can find the cheapest rates in the Brisbane area – but ultimately you will only really know an energy company once you’ve signed up. However, here are some things to consider before doing so, and some questions you may want to ask:
All energy companies are required by law to publish price factsheets for each of their products, where you should be able to find the answers to these questions and also check the usage and supply charges you will pay. However, these documents are not always the easiest to interpret, so don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and ask some straight answers to straight questions.
As an electricity customer, you have consumer rights, so if you’re not happy with your existing agreement, make sure you contact your retailer and seek a resolution. If you decide to switch providers, you have a 10 day cooling off period to change your mind without incurring any fees.
When comparing offers, be sure to check the costs you’ll be charged, and keep our customer ratings in mind. Everyone wants cheap prices, but good service can be just as important.
Canstar Blue commissioned Colmar Brunton to survey 6,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who live in Queensland and pay the electricity bills in their household – in this case, 647 people.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then alphabetically. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.
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