$900 million in energy bill savings up for grabs says watchdog

New figures from Australia’s consumer watchdog revealed electricity prices have fallen by almost nine per cent since mid-2020 and that $900 million in potential savings should be rolling out to customers.

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) stated that retail electricity offers for households in the eastern and southern states have dropped substantially over this time period, equating to an average yearly saving of $126 per household.

ACCC Chair Rod Sims said the data indicates big savings for customers who switch to cheaper energy deals or if the retailers pass on price cuts to existing customers.

“There are two ways that households and small businesses can get the hip-pocket benefit of recent reductions in retailers’ costs: by changing to a new, cheaper plan; or, by waiting for their retailer to lower the rates on the plan that they’re already on,” Mr Sims said.

“While we encourage consumers to cash in on the available savings by switching to a better deal, new laws require electricity retailers to pass on cuts in the wholesale cost of electricity.”

The ACCC claims if every customer living in deregulated energy zones were switched onto a retailer’s cheapest deal, or retailers lowered the prices of existing plans, the total annual savings would amount to roughly $900 million compared to prices offered in June 2020.

Mr Sims explained that softening market conditions have paved the way for energy providers to buy power at a cheaper price, and that Aussies should be reaping the benefits.

“A significant increase in generation capacity, attributed to renewable generation and falling fuel costs, has led to much lower wholesale electricity costs and it’s vital that all Australians now see the savings,” he said.

“Prior to this, we had a decade of sustained electricity price increases that placed unacceptable pressure on households and small businesses.

“The ACCC is now investigating whether electricity retailers’ current prices, including to their existing customers, are in line with recent wholesale price reductions, and if electricity retailers haven’t passed on the savings to consumers as required by law, they can expect to hear from us.”

As of June 2020, electricity retailers must adhere to new laws where prices are adjusted to reflect market conditions. The ACCC states it’s the energy providers responsibility to pass on price reductions to existing customers, and heavy fines are in place if companies fail to comply with new laws.

“While the ACCC will be enforcing the new laws, we also urge people who haven’t seen their bill come down to contact their electricity retailer and ask to be put on the best offer for their circumstances,” Mr Sims added. “Many consumers will be able to achieve further savings by comparing advertised prices and shopping around. The laws also require retailers to pass on cost reductions to small and medium sized businesses, and small business customers can expect to see similar reductions to households.”

Compare Energy Prices

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Ausgrid network in Sydney but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 3900kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Citipower network in Melbourne but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Energex network in Brisbane but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4600kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the SA Power network in Adelaide but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

How much should customers be saving on average?

Here are the average savings per state as published by the ACCC. Keep in mind these prices reflect a typical household on a single rate tariff and that savings will vary depending on personal circumstances.

State Annual Savings *Price Difference Since June 2020
Victoria $181 12.7%
South East Queensland $126 9.0%
South Australia $118 6.8%
New South Wales $84 6.0%
Australian Capital Territory $46 2.6%

Source: ACCC analysis of offer available in Energy Made Easy and Victorian Energy Compare. *Price difference refers to prices from June 2020 to March 2021.

Estimated savings per electricity distribution zone

Below are the average yearly savings across each distribution network in Victoria, New South Wales, south east Queensland, South Australia and the ACT.

Distribution Zone Annual Savings *Price Difference
United Energy (VIC) $198 14.2%
Citipower (VIC) $178 13.4%
Jemena (VIC) $187 13.4%
Powercor (VIC) $175 12.3%
Ausnet Services (VIC) $171 11.1%
Energex (QLD) $126 9.0%
Ausgrid (NSW) $88 6.9%
Endeavour (NSW) $82 5.5%
Essential $80 4.7%
SA Power Networks (SA) $118 6.8%
Evoenergy (ACT) $46 2.6%

Source: ACCC, Estimated Savings by National Energy Market Distribution Zones. *Price difference refers to prices from June 2020 to March 2021.

Is electricity actually getting cheaper?

Recent Canstar Blue data highlighted that electricity prices are now lower compared to July 2019, when sweeping regulatory changes rocked the industry. Here are the price drops for average annual energy costs per state:

  • NSW: $203 to $236
  • VIC: $211 to $253
  • QLD: $199
  • SA: $197

The above figures reflect yearly savings for average households on Canstar Blue’s database as of February 2021. Average households are based on specific usage assumptions per distribution zone.

How to find a good energy deal

Whether it’s switching energy providers or calling the retailer and asking for a better deal, there are many ways to ensure customers are getting the most competitive prices. Not only is price an important factor when choosing a power deal, bill-payers should also think about the level of service on offer, as well as any value-add incentives, such as discounts and rewards programs.

Before making a purchase decision, it’s a good idea to check the fine print of an energy plan to ensure no hidden fees are attached, and that the rates are fairly priced. If you’re sick of seeing your bills getting higher and higher, then maybe it’s time to review plans and prices from a range of providers in your area via our electricity comparison tool below.

Image credit: Peterfz30/Shutterstock.com

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