Looking for a better natural gas deal for your home in NSW? Compare natural gas plans from AGL, Origin & EnergyAustralia with Canstar Blue.
* 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.
^ By clicking on a brand or ‘details’ button, you will leave Canstar Blue and be taken to our referral partner to compare. You agree that Canstar Blue’s terms and conditions apply to this referral. If you click on a brand that our referral partner does not cover, you will be taken to a brand page on Canstar Blue.
Canstar Blue research finalised in September 2015, published in October 2015.
See our Ratings Methodology.
No one enjoys paying for power, but it’s a grudge purchase all households have to make on a quarterly or monthly basis. The extent of your frustration is likely to depend on the size of the bill you usually end up paying and the level of customer service you experience along the way.
If the cost of gas or electricity doesn’t hit you too hard in the hip pocket and you rarely have a reason to contact your supplier, chances are you’ll be satisfied enough to stay put. However, if you think you’re getting slugged an unreasonable amount – and find your retailer difficult to talk to – you’ll probably be left considering your options.
There is a perception that all energy companies are more or less the same, but our customer satisfaction ratings for gas suppliers in New South Wales over the years tell a different story. In 2015, AGL was awarded 5 stars in Overall Customer Satisfaction in Gas Suppliers for New South Wales, receiving the Canstar Blue award. Since 2012, AGL has beaten the state’s two other major retailers, Origin and EnergyAustralia, for overall satisfaction. Securing the top spot for four years in succession represents a pretty good achievement.
If you’re considering a switch of gas supplier, we hope our star ratings prove helpful at the start of your journey. You’re never going to celebrate another energy bill, but that doesn’t mean you should just settle for any old service. If you want a retailer that makes the process as easy to understand as possible, and offers a competitive power price, make the effort to find it.
In this report, we aim to make understanding your options as easy as possible in a language you can understand.
Our ratings include feedback from customers of the biggest three gas retailers in New South Wales, but there are plenty of others operating in the state following the introduction of Full Retail Competition (FRC) in 2002 to promote greater competition in the state’s energy market. The idea is that more competition gives consumers more choices, meaning a downward pressure on energy prices. But of course, things don’t always work out as planned…
As you would expect, New South Wales is the largest energy market in Australia and accounts for more than a quarter of all energy consumed nationally. Partial deregulation of the energy market was first introduced by the New South Wales Government in 2011, with the retail components of the previously state-owned assets privatised and competition increasing steadily over time. There are now 16 energy retailers operating in NSW which have a mix of ownership and structures – some are publicly owned and some are privately owned by Australian or overseas investors. AGL, for example, is a publicly-listed Australian company based in Sydney. While the ownership structure of retailers varies, what they all have in common is that to operate in New South Wales they must be authorised to do so by the Australian Energy Regulator which issues authorisations under the National Energy Retail Law.
The New South Wales Government retained control over electricity and gas pricing in the state until 2014, with the Government Regulated Tariff deciding the cost per kilowatt hour charged to consumers. However, retailers could offer discounts on these rates. Full deregulation of the electricity market in NSW means consumers are free to choose which retailer provides their service, but also means that suppliers are able to charge whatever prices they want. More than 400,000 households and businesses have switched supplier since the deregulation of the electricity market and driven the entry into the market of several smaller retailers, providing added competition to the big three.
While the electricity market is now fully deregulated, some retailers have a statutory obligation to provide regulated gas prices to customers. These retailers are obliged to offer customers in their allocated districts energy supply at regulated prices, but gas retailers who are not regulated must notify customers of their right to enter into a regulated offer contract if they wish to do so. All gas customers in NSW are entitled to have their energy supplied at regulated prices.
The following retailers are the regulated offer retailers for gas in New South Wales:
However, the NSW Government has given a conditional commitment to remove controls on retail gas prices from mid-2017, allowing households to shop around for the best deal between a greater number of suppliers. However, Energy Minister Anthony Roberts said full gas deregulation will only happen if there is a “considerable increase” in the level of competitive gas supply offers available for customers in regional areas of the state.
The deregulation of the electricity market in New South Wales has led to many households switching energy suppliers, but despite the increased competition in the state, our survey of more than 900 households found that the majority (80%) are “generally happy” with their gas supplier. Many said they would still like to switch, but 29% can’t find the time and 33% find the process too daunting.
More than a quarter of respondents (28%) say they pay more for gas than electricity, with average gas bills of $240 reported over the last quarter before respondents took part in the survey – significantly less than the highest average reported in Victoria. Despite that, about one in three (61%) New South Wales households said they have reduced their gas usage in an effort to reduce bills. The average bills reported across the states were as follows:
Lots of factors go into determining overall customer satisfaction with a gas retailer. In New South Wales, the feeling of getting value for money is most important, but consumers are also determined to get good billing information and customer service from their supplier. We found the drivers of satisfaction in NSW to be:
The following graph illustrates what factors are most important to consumers in different parts of the country.
Source: Canstar Blue gas customer satisfaction survey, conducted by Colmar Brunton, September 2015, n=3,305.
So what can you do if you want to switch? To start with, you’ll need to know what type of energy contract you are currently on. If you’re not sure, contact your supplier. There are three types of energy contracts in NSW – regulated contracts, standard retail contracts and market retail contracts.
Standard retail contracts are offered by all electricity and gas retailers and have model terms and conditions set by law. If you have not signed up to a market contract, your energy will be supplied under a standard retail contract. This contract has no exit fees and you can change to a different contract at any time. The prices under standard retail contracts are set by the retailers themselves.
All retailers can offer to supply your energy at market prices under a market retail contract. Even a regulated offer retailer can provide a market offer contract. Market retail contracts are negotiated between the retailer and the customer. But remember, all gas customers in NSW are entitled to have their energy supplied at regulated prices. The terms and conditions of the regulated offer contracts are set out in legislation and cannot be changed by retailers. The regulated gas prices are determined by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal, generally on July 1 each year.
Whichever type of contract you have, from whichever retailer, you can rest assured that switching will not affect the reliability or quality of your energy services as distributors own and manage the infrastructure – including powerlines and pipes – that delivers gas and electricity to your home and are responsible for the supply. You do not have a choice of distributor. The retailers buy gas and electricity in bulk from the distributors and then sell it onto you. Each state has its own different distributors, but in New South Wales there are three main gas distributors and three electricity distributors, each of which is responsible for separate regions of the state.
The Australian Energy Regulator can provide further details on which distributor is responsible for your specific area of the state.
New South Wales has historically not been a significant gas producer and thus has very few conventional gas supplies of its own, with up to 95% of its gas imported from other states. And with more than 1.1 million consumers in the state using gas in their homes – and demand increasing – New South Wales is facing a significant challenge, leading to the exploration of other non-conventional sources of natural gas, including coal seam gas which already provides a small percentage of the state’s gas needs.
Traditional gas supplies to New South Wales are changing rapidly and reserves previously contracted to the state are depleting or being directed to Gladstone in Queensland, says the Department of Industry Resources & Energy. It says the coal seam gas industry is essential to the state’s gas security.
“As existing contracts with interstate suppliers begin to expire, NSW will have to compete with offshore demand and pay export prices, leading to a rise in the cost of gas. Access to a secure and sustainable supply of gas by further developing the CSG industry in NSW is essential to improving the state’s gas security, meeting growing energy needs and containing household energy bills.”
The Department adds that industry growth will “assist regional development by bringing infrastructure and investment to parts of rural and regional NSW, providing new jobs and sustainable energy which will strengthen regional economies and provide development opportunities”.
However, coal seam gas is controversial because of the drilling methods used to extract it from the earth.
In 2013, the New South Wales Government released its Renewable Energy Action Plan to guide the state’s renewable energy development and support the national target of 20% renewable energy by 2020. The NSW plan includes attracting renewable energy investment and expertise.
Some energy retailers now offer “green energy” options to customers. AGL, for example, says its customers can reduce their impact on the environment by adding one of its Green Choice options to their energy plan. Doing this simply means AGL will source electricity equal to 10%, 20% or 100% of your entire household electricity consumption from renewable energy sources approved under the National GreenPower Accreditation Program. Of course, it’s worth finding out how much extra plans like this might cost you.
AGL is one of Australia’s oldest companies with a history stretching way back to 1837. Originally founded as the Australian Gas Light Company, it remains based in Sydney where it was charged with the job of lighting the city streets. The company was eventually re-branded as AGL Energy in 2006 and now boasts almost four million residential and commercial customers across New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia. It is also said to be the country’s largest private owner, operator and developer of renewable energy assets.
Origin Energy is one of Australia’s largest energy retailers, supplying electricity and gas to properties in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia. Based in Sydney, it was founded in 2000 as a result of a demerger from the Australian conglomerate Boral Limited, in which the energy business was removed from the construction materials business to form a new company. In 2010 Origin Energy purchased the retail divisions of both Country Energy and Integral Energy, and is well-known for its low-carbon products such as GreenPower, Green Gas and solar PV.
Formerly known as TRUenergy, EnergyAustralia is one of the country’s three biggest electricity and gas retailers. It is owned by the Hong Kong-based CLP Group and has a portfolio of energy generating sites, using thermal coal, natural gas, hydroelectric, solar and wind power. It was founded in 1995 from a combination of power generation and retail assets purchased from Singapore Power. In 2011 the company acquired the retail business and trade name of the New South Wales Government-owned EnergyAustralia and later adopted the name. Its headquarters
Canstar Blue commissioned Colmar Brunton to survey 6,000 Australian consumers across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have an active gas account and regularly pay the bills – in this case, 943 New South Welshmen and women.
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. 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.
Compare Gas Suppliers in New South Wales - October 29th
New South Wales gas bill-payers have rated AGL ahead of Origin and EnergyAustralia in customer satisfaction for the fourth time in as many years. Just weeks after the State Government gave a conditional commitment to remove …– Read more
Compare Gas Suppliers in New South Wales - July 15th
EnergyAustralia was originally founded as TRUEnergy in 1995. The company was formed from a combination of power generation and retail assets purchased from Singapore Power and those owned by the Hong Kong based CLP Group. …– Read more