2018 Business Electricity Plans & Providers
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Compare electricity companies Origin, AGL and Energy Australia on business customer satisfaction. Retailers rated on factors including customer service, payment options, billing and value for money.
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Canstar Blue research finalised in July 2018, published in September 2018.
See our Ratings Methodology.
Origin Energy rated highest by business customers
Electricity is one of the biggest overheads for Australian businesses, particularly in light of rising power prices. In fact, more than half of businesses we surveyed (56%) said electricity is their greatest financial concern. As any business owner knows, running a successful company requires finding the best supplier at a competitive price. The same, of course, goes for electricity.
Most businesses are energy-savvy, with 80% of survey respondents – who own or help run a business – claiming to have made a conscious effort to use less power in the last year. 40% of businesses have also invested in tools to monitor and understand their energy usage. However, only 42% have taken one of the biggest leaps and switched providers in an effort to save some money. While 65% said they believe their business gets a good deal, you can’t know for sure until you shop around.
The needs of businesses are different to those of residential customers, so where do you even begin comparing? Well, right here of course. Canstar Blue annually surveys hundreds of Australian small businesses, asking them to rate their experience with their energy company across key criteria. This includes value for money, self-service, availability of payment plans, customer service, billing, energy efficiency advice, and the all-important overall satisfaction. So which company came out on top with five stars in overall satisfaction? Well this year, for the first time, it’s Origin Energy.
- In addition to receiving five-stars for overall satisfaction, Origin also received a five-star score for self-service, availability of payment plan options, customer service and billing. It also received an admirable four stars on value for money and energy efficiency advice.
- Last year’s winner, EnergyAustralia, was a close second. It received four stars across overall satisfaction and all other variables. The exception being energy efficiency advice, for which EnergyAustralia received three stars.
- AGL lagged slightly behind the competition this year in terms of overall satisfaction and value for money. However, it did earn five stars for self service, availability of plans, customer service and billing.
The average quarterly bill for businesses we surveyed this year was $1,653 – approximately $70 more than the average reported last year. If you’re looking to curb rising power bills and save your business some money, then keep reading to find out how you can find out what’s on offer.
Business Electricity Providers
According to our research, more than a third of business customers (35%) are situated on an embedded electricity network. This means the business unfortunately has little say over their electricity supplier, as that decision is left to a body corporate. If you can choose your electricity company, however, you have plenty of suppliers to select from. In addition to the major retailers featured in this year’s rating – AGL, Origin Energy and EnergyAustralia – smaller retailers such as Alinta Energy, Red Energy and Lumo Energy also provide services to small business customers. There are also a number of retailers that exclusively serve business customers, including:
- Blue NRG
- ERM Power
- Next Business Energy
The advantage of these retailers is that they specialise in and understand the needs of business electricity customers. In addition to standard retail services, some of these energy companies also undertake energy audits for customers to help them understand how they can manage their energy usage. Of course, if you’re not interested in these extras and services and you’re simply looking for the cheapest price, then you should compare all of your options, including the big three energy companies.
Let’s take a look at what Australia’s big three energy retailers are offering new business customers.
Origin Energy Business Electricity Plans
Origin Energy has two variable-rate market offers for its business customers. Both products include guaranteed discounts on electricity, which means you receive the discount regardless of when or how you pay – maybe great for businesses trying to manage their other priorities. Origin Energy also offers a fixed rate product called ‘Rate Freeze’, which protects customers from rising power prices.
- BusinessSaver: This product gives business customers a discount off electricity supply charges. Again, the discount is guaranteed. The plan has a benefit period of one year and customers may be required to pay an exit fee if they leave before the end of the contract term.
- Business Bill Saver: Customers receive a guaranteed discount that is slightly smaller compared to the BusinessSaver. Unlike the BusinessSaver, this discount applies to both usage and supply charges and is better suited to low-use businesses. The contract has a one year benefit period with possible exit fees for some customers.
- Rate Freeze: This is one of the most interesting products on the market, offering customers no price rises for two years. Better yet, this product comes with a discount between 10 and 25 per cent and customers are not charged an exit fee If they end the contract early.
EnergyAustralia Business Electricity Plans
As the previous winner of Canstar Blue’s award for small business electricity, EnergyAustralia knows a thing or two about delivering top business products. Its offers include the Everyday Saver, the Flexi Saver and the Rate Fix. Rates, fees and discounts vary across different locations, so be sure to check EnergyAustralia’s price fact sheets for more details.
- Everyday Saver: This deal gives business customers a guaranteed discount on electricity usage charges. It has a benefit period of two years and there is no exit fee for most customers.
- Flexi Saver: The Flexi Saver includes a slightly smaller discount for a benefit period of one year. In order to receive the discount however, you will need to pay your bills on time.
- Rate Fix: This product fixes your rates for two years, meaning that what you pay for electricity now won’t increase half way through the contract. This protects you from rising power prices, however there are no discounts and exit fees may apply for leaving early.
AGL Business Electricity Plans
AGL’s set of business electricity plans are similar to those offered by Origin and EnergyAustralia. Its plan range includes the Business Savers, Business Everyday and Business Fixed. The first two are variable rate contracts with guaranteed discounts, while the third product is a two-year deal.
- Business Savers: This energy deal comes with a discount on usage charges that customers are guaranteed to receive. The contract lasts for a two year benefit period, after which customers are moved to a different product. Better yet, there are generally no exit fees if you choose to leave AGL.
- Business Everyday: This product has a slightly smaller guaranteed discount, however this time the discount applies to both the usage and supply components of the bill. This makes it a more suitable product for low-use businesses.
- Business Fixed: This deal comes with a discount on electricity usage that you are guaranteed to receive. Better yet, these rates are fixed so that the price you pay for power won’t increase for a two-year period.
Small Business Electricity WA
AGL, Origin Energy and EnergyAustralia only retail electricity to businesses in Qld, NSW, Vic, SA and ACT. Energy markets outside of these areas face tighter regulation and subsequently fewer suppliers.
Businesses in Perth and the surrounding area can only choose their electricity provider if they are deemed ‘contestable’. That is, they consume more than 50mWh of electricity per year (approx. 137 kWh/day). Contestable customers have several options, including:
- Alinta Energy
- Perth Energy
- Infinite Energy
Perth business customers that use less than 137 kWh per day however, have no choice but to sign up with Synergy. This will include many small restaurants, cafes, stores & the like. Similarly, customers do not have much choice outside of Perth, with most areas only supplied by Horizon Power. For more, see our WA Energy guide.
Small Business Electricity TAS
Tasmania’s electricity retail market remains fairly tightly-regulated, which means it isn’t bustling with competition. Unless you run a large business, your only option is Aurora Energy – a government owned electricity and gas retailer.
Aurora Energy offers a range of tariff options including time of use, block rate (called General Tariff 22), and controlled load off peak. There are no conditional discounts or hidden fees – just straightforward electricity. For more, see our Tasmania Energy Guide.
Small Business Electricity NT
Only very large companies can choose their electricity supplier in the Northern Territory. For most customers, Jacana Energy is the only option. Business tariffs are government regulated in the NT and include a flat rate tariff called the ‘Everyday Business’. It also offers a unique tariff called ‘Business 6 to 6’, which applies a higher rate from 6am through to 6pm and a lower rate from 6pm to 6am. This makes the plan a particularly attractive tariff for businesses that operate at night. Some specialised tariffs may also apply for charity organisations and caravan parks.
Which business electricity provider should you choose?
Having the ability to choose your electricity provider can be both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it means retailers will offer competitive deals to win your custom. While on the other hand, it means you need to be proactive and regularly compare retailers to ensure you’re still getting the best deal on electricity. The moment you take your power costs for granted, the moment you fall into the trap of paying too much.
If you have not compared energy companies recently, then your energy bills could be unnecessarily cutting into the bottom line of your business. The question then is, which electricity company is best? While Origin Energy won this year’s award for having the most satisfied business customers, all three of the major retailers that featured in this year’s report are perfectly viable electricity providers.
Remember that every business is unique and the needs of your company may be different to those of another. What’s important is that you understand how your business uses power and that you regularly shop around to ensure you are on the best deal that suits you. Even if you think you’re already on a good deal, it never hurts to look around.
Frequently asked questions
Canstar Blue Colmar Brunton to survey 800 Australian small business owners or decision makers (i.e. the main decision maker for the small business) 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 electricity account that they use for business and their business pays for – in this case, 454 small business owners/decision makers.
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 by mean overall satisfaction. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.