It’s a David versus Goliath battle – Australia’s biggest energy retailer taking on the new, loudmouth upstart that seems to enjoy poking fun at the old, boring incumbents. We’re talking, of course, about Origin Energy and Powershop. When it comes to electricity providers, they are quite literally poles apart. But who offers the best overall value for your money? In this review we compare electricity prices from both Origin and Powershop to help you make a more informed decision.
Before we go into detail about their energy plans in Victoria and New South Wales, let’s first set the scene by providing a little background information on both retailers.
Origin remains Australia’s biggest energy company with millions of customers across the country and a wealth of both fossil fuel and renewable energy generation assets. Along with AGL and Energy Australia, Origin is currently ranked one of Australia’s ‘dirty three’ energy companies and is involved in the exploration of coal seam gas – the extraction of which is commonly known as ‘fracking’.
Origin is also one of the biggest retailers when it comes to household solar installation, and is one of only a handful of companies offering the Tesla Powerwall solar storage battery system with its solar packages. Origin is also one of just two electricity providers to offer households ‘fixed cost’ energy plans, which means households know exactly what they will pay for power every billing period, regardless of their energy usage. Origin appears keen to get its customers transferred from traditional energy plans over to the Predictable Plan. See the promotional video below.
Powershop is an export of New Zealand, where it enjoys a far bigger market share than it does in Australia. However, since moving across the ditch, the company has been making a big impression. It currently tops our customer satisfaction ratings for electricity providers in Victoria and was named Australia’s greenest energy company in a report by Greenpeace and the Total Environment Centre in 2015. Via its parent company, Meridian Energy, Powershop owns only renewable energy assets and has an emissions intensity of zero. It also has the highest percentage of GreenPower customers of any retailer in the country.
By its own admissions, Powershop is different to other energy providers in that customers are able to pre-purchase power packs at cheaper rates, for later use. It also has a strong focus on online energy management tools, utilising smart meters to provide helpful usage information to customers via a smartphone app. It is also backed by a very clever marketing team which helps Powershop stand out from the crowd. Its power socket face logo is often seen in various topical guises and the company generally portrays a relaxed, happy go lucky image, as the following video attests.
Now you know the basics about Origin and Powershop, let’s dive into the facts and see which company has the cheapest rates in your state.
The rates you pay with any energy provider will depend on a number of factors, including your location. In Victoria, prices vary depending on your distributing network, but for the sake of this comparison, we will compare costs on the Citipower network which covers large parts of Melbourne. To do this, we are comparing the highest discounted offers from Powershop and Origin. They both have other plans to choose from, but these promise the highest discounts and lowest overall prices. So, based on average energy consumption for a five-person household, who comes out cheapest? These are quarterly costs once discounts have been applied.
|VIC||Powershop||30% Market Offer||30%||$292.76|
Prices based on annual electricity costs broken down into quarterly payments on the Citipower network at postcode 3000, October 2016.
Canstar Blue research has previously found that electricity plans with the highest discounts don’t always work out the cheapest options overall. This is because they also tend to have the highest usage or supply charges, meaning savings from the discount are largely negated. However, in this comparison, you see the plan that brings the highest discount does in fact work out cheaper overall, by some distance.
However, we need to stress that in order to qualify for the maximum discount from this Powershop plan, customers must put in some effort. This means regularly purchasing saver power packs from the Powershop online store. Failure to do this could mean you pay more. In the case of Origin, its discount is a direct debit discount of usage charges, which you could consider more of a ‘set and forget’ type plan. See how these costs compare to those from other electricity retailers in Melbourne with our new price comparison report.
New South Wales
After initially launching in Victoria, Powershop has followed the rollout of smart meters into New South Wales where it once again challenges the dominance of Origin, AGL and Energy Australia, plus other tier two providers such as Red Energy, Simply Energy and Dodo Power & Gas. This time Powershop’s highest discounted offer looks a little more modest, but it still results in one of the most competitive plans in the state. Origin is again represented by its Maximiser retail market contract which also has a lower headline discount to the equivalent plan in Victoria. So, how do these two offers stack up in Sydney? To find out, we’ve compared rates on the Ausgrid network. These are quarterly costs once discounts are applied.
Prices based on annual electricity costs broken down into quarterly payments on the Ausgrid network at postcode 2000, October 2016.
This time you can see the difference between the two is not as dramatic as in Victoria, but Powershop is still the cheapest option. Again, however, you must consider what leg work it will take to achieve these maximum savings from Powershop. Customers will be required to regularly purchase saver power packs to get the cheapest rates. Find out how Powershop and Origin compare to other electricity providers in Sydney with our cost comparison review.
So, what’s the conclusion?
No energy company has a great reputation, because paying for power will always be a grudge purchase no one wants to make. No matter who owns them, what they say, or what colour scheme they choose, all energy providers are the same in the eyes of many consumers. In Origin and Powershop we have two very different propositions – some consumers will simply feel more comfortable with a brand name they recognise, while others will be drawn to the alternative approach in the hope that it proves as good as it sounds. Ultimately the choice is yours.