2017 NSW Gas Suppliers Ratings
You are viewing the 2017 ratings for NSW gas suppliers. Follow the link to go to the current NSW gas suppliers.
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Canstar Blue research finalised in December 2016, published in January 2017.
See our Ratings Methodology.
EnergyAustralia rated highest for gas in NSW
The New South Wales gas market is set to become increasingly competitive in years to come, but for now it remains dominated by Australia’s big three energy providers – AGL, Origin and EnergyAustralia. While other companies can already retail natural gas, the complete removal of price regulations in 2017 should mean that customers in Sydney and the rest of the state have an even greater range of different options to choose from, hopefully providing the opportunity for customers to save. But with competition often comes confusion, which is why Canstar Blue aims to simplify the NSW gas market in this review.
For now, 96% of gas customers in NSW remain with one of the aforementioned big three, according to the Australian Energy Regulator’s latest report. So which provider stakes up best? Canstar Blue annually surveys hundreds of households across NSW to find out how they rate their gas retailer based on factors including service, billing and value for money, plus overall customer satisfaction.
AGL has previously dominated this category, but this year EnergyAustralia has risen to the top of the ratings table, scoring five-star reviews across the board. This time, AGL earned three stars for overall satisfaction, with Origin achieving four. It should also be noted, however, that Origin received five stars for its customer service.
About the NSW gas market
While AGL, Origin and EnergyAustralia have the most customers, households in NSW have been able to switch gas suppliers for several years, with providers such as Red Energy, Simply Energy and Dodo Power & Gas also competing for customers. Until the complete removal of gas pricing restrictions, AGL, Origin and ActewAGL are required by law to offer regulated contracts in NSW, which are agreed with the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal. These regulated tariffs are in addition to their standing and market offers, which all other gas suppliers in the state are also free to offer.
Types of gas contracts
The path to gas savings starts with understanding what type of contract you are on and which is the best bet for you. There are currently three types of gas contracts in NSW:
- Regulated contracts: These have prices agreed between the retailer and the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal, with prices updated annually. AGL, Origin and ActewAGL are required to offer regulated contracts to customers in their respective designated areas of the state. These contracts will cease in June 2017, with customers required to move onto one of the following types of contracts instead.
- Standard contracts: All energy providers are required to offer standard contracts. While they have prices set by the retailer, these can only be changed every six months, and the retailers must adhere to a robust set of customer protection rules set in legislation. Standing offers are ongoing and have no exit fees.
- Market contracts: These are energy contracts almost entirely set by the individual retailers. This means prices can change at any time, there are set contract periods, and exit fees may apply. However, these contracts also provide the opportunity for customers to save through conditional discounts.
By mid-2017, all households in NSW should be on either a standard or market gas contract, as is the case with electricity supply in the state. While standing offer plans provide some protection against price increases, Canstar Blue research shows that households will almost always save by switching to market contracts, provided they stick to the conditions.
What does gas price deregulation mean?
The complete deregulation of the NSW gas market simply means that AGL, Origin and ActewAGL will no longer be required to provide regulated gas contracts. Customers previously on a regulated contract will be advised of the change and will likely be placed on the standing offer provided by their retailer. They also have the opportunity to switch to a standing offer or market contract before deregulation occurs.
Gas plans in NSW
While there are more than 20 different electricity providers operating in NSW, only a handful of them also currently retail gas, and not in all areas. As more and more customers consider their electricity options, it could mean a growing number of households choose to get their gas and electricity from different providers. However, the big retailers often offer ‘double up’ discounts for receiving both with them.
Gas is generally cheaper than electricity and as such, conditional discounts with market offer gas plans (such as paying on time or by direct debit) are usually much lower than those offered with electricity plans. The big retailers typically offer three or four different gas plans to select from, with varying conditions and discounts. Some come with variable usage rates, while offers allow customers to ‘lock-in’ prices for a set period.
- Variable rate plans: The majority of gas plans in NSW come with variable usage rates, meaning prices can change at any time, as long as your retailer gives you notice of at least 10 business days.
- Fixed rate plans: These plans allow customers to lock in set usage rates for the term of their agreement, usually two years. While providing some protection against future price increases, usage rates on fixed rate plans are likely to be higher to begin with.
Usage charges will likely make up the majority of your overall energy costs, but it’s also important to pay attention to supply charges, because the providers with lower usage rates often make up for these with higher fixed supply charges. These are the costs you incur on a daily basis simply for being connected to the network.
The cheapest gas usage rates you are likely to find in NSW are around 3 cents per megajoule. To put this into context, a gas oven will likely use around 12 megajoules an hour. Fixed daily supply charges usually cost around 50-60 cents.
Gas discounts in NSW
Discounts of between 10% and 15% off gas usage charges are common in NSW, but don’t fall into the trap of assuming that the plans with the biggest discounts result in the cheapest costs overall, because this is quite often not the case. Discounts are typically available for paying on time, paying by direct debit, or for receiving bills via email instead of post. Some retailers also offer money off when you sign-up online. Be sure to check the benefit period of your discount as most only apply for one year, after which you’ll be left paying the full rate.
Gas tariffs in NSW
Fortunately, gas tariffs in NSW are fairly simple. Households are charged for gas in ‘blocks’, with the first block usually costing the most. For example, you might pay 3.4 cents for the first block of 20 megjoules a day, then 2.3 cents for the next block, and so on.
Gas distributors in NSW
Besides contract types, usage rates, supply charges, tariffs and discounts, the other thing that will impact the amount you pay for gas is where you happen to live. There are three different gas networks in NSW and power prices can vary significantly between them. For example, an EnergyAustralia customer on one network might have higher usage rates than an EnergyAustralia customer on the same plan on another distribution network. This is because energy distributors have their own costs to claw back and these are made through the retailer’s charges.
The three distribution networks in NSW are:
- Jemena Gas Networks – servicing Sydney, Newcastle, Central Coast, Wollongong and part of country NSW
- Central Ranges System – servicing Tamworth
- Wagga Wagga Gas Distribution Network
ActewAGL also serves some customers in Palerang (Bungendore) and Queanbeyan.
How to get a better deal on gas in NSW
While energy plans always seem confusing, this report has identified a few things you can do to get a better deal on gas. It might seem like hard work, but when it comes to gas and electricity, you only find the best deals with a little leg work. Here are the three most important things to consider:
- What type of gas contract are you on? Standard contracts are almost always more expensive than market offers, so switching from the former to the latter is the first positive step towards securing cheaper rates.
- Compare the usage and supply charges of various gas plans: The energy companies are required to publish their price factsheets on their websites, which is where you will find these details.
- Consider the discounts and other incentives offered: Once you’ve worked out what cheap and expensive usage and supply prices look like, consider the discounts being offered and how they compare to other deals. Make sure you know the conditions of the discount and how long the benefit period is.
Also consider how other consumers rate their energy suppliers. You will never really know how good or bad a retailer is until you are a customer, so online reviews like ours provide an insight into what you can really expect. It’s the providers that strike the perfect balance between price and good customer service that usually rise to the top.
Frequently asked questions
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 New South Wales and pay the gas bills in their household – in this case, 572 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.