Do you live in south-east Queensland? Do you think you’re paying too much for electricity? If the answer is yes, then you’re probably right. Because while households in other states of Australia have been able to pick from a growing number and variety of different energy plans in recent years, consumers in Brisbane have been stuck on the same old energy tariffs, with minimal price competition. However, times are changing and you can now do something about it, by finding the best electricity provider and the cheapest electricity plan for you. That’s our aim in this report.
Our cost calculations below are based on a specific postcode in Brisbane. Use our comparison tool here for a quote in your suburb.
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The state of play in Queensland
Before we help you find a better deal on your electricity, it’s important to understand how the Queensland electricity market currently stacks up. The amount energy companies charge for power is dependent on a number of factors, location being one of them. However, daily usage charges often vary little around the country. What you pay to watch your television for an hour in Victoria won’t be too dissimilar to what you pay in Brisbane. However, what is different is that households in Melbourne can benefit from huge energy discounts, which help to reduce overall costs – thus making that quiet evening at home in front of the TV a little cheaper.
Energy discounts are available because of intense competition between energy retailers following the lifting of price restrictions. Canstar Blue’s review of electricity plans in Victoria shows that discounts of 30% or more are common, with some energy providers offering up to 43% off usage charges for meeting certain conditions – usually paying bills on time, or by direct debit. Compare this to Queensland where there is less competition and the electricity providers don’t offer such favourable discounts, even following the lifting of price restrictions in July 2016. However, it is still relatively early days.
Will deregulation help?
New energy companies have started to take an interest in the Queensland market since the lifting of price restrictions (which we’ll come to shortly), but for now deregulation has done little to reduce overall costs for Queenslanders. Competition has unfortunately not thrived as well as was expected, leading to the state government becoming reinvolved with the energy market through a joint venture with Alinta Energy in August 2017. Government-owned CS-Energy and Perth-based Alinta Energy have come together to send a message to other retailers, offering Queenslanders one of the cheapest deals on the market (see below).
The aim of this joint venture is to give competition in Queensland a bit of nudge, potentially lowering electricity prices. The Queensland Productivity Commission insists that deregulation can boost competition with a bit more time and ease the cost of living – and it’s easy to see why when you compare average costs in Brisbane with those in Victoria, the most mature energy market in Australia. The arrival of Alinta into the market certainly seems to have helped put a downward pressure on prices, with other retailers looking to keep pace as thousands of households switch.
Which electricity provider is cheapest in Queensland?
It has never been more important to try and find the best deal on your energy. So, where can you find the cheapest electricity prices in Brisbane and the surrounding areas? We have the answer. Based on cents per kWh usage prices and daily supply charges of the electricity providers we’ve compared, plus average energy consumption figures, the following table shows estimated annual costs for households with single rate tariffs on the Energex network. This is everywhere from the Sunshine Coast to the Gold Coast, including Brisbane and Ipswich. We have compared the cheapest market offers from each energy provider, showing costs after all conditional discounts have been applied.
|Electricity Provider^||Electricity Plan||Discount||Annual Cost*||Benefit Period|
|Alinta Energy||Home SaverPlus||28%||$1,814.26||2 years|
|AGL||Set and Forget||28%||$1,818.28||1 year|
|QEnergy||Flexi Home||0%||$1,865.90||2 years|
|EnergyAustralia||Secure Saver||28%||$1,916.53||1 year|
|Red Energy||Easy Saver 10%||10%||$1,941.15||Ongoing|
|Dodo Power & Gas||Market Offer||25%||$1,956.14||Ongoing|
|Origin Energy||Maximiser||16%||$2,016.66||1 year|
|Amaysim Energy||Electricity 2||20%||$2,049.72||Ongoing|
|1st Energy||1st Saver||28%||$2,055.40||2 years|
|Simply Energy||Simply Plus||18%||$2,075.23||2 years|
|Powerdirect||Market Offer||14%||$2,133.12||1 year|
|Energy Locals||Save Me||0%||$2,138.18||Ongoing|
|Click Energy||Click Agate||15%||$2,177.83||Ongoing|
|Mojo Power||Mojo Connect||0%||$2,837.47||Ongoing|
*Costs based on annual usage statistics from AER for a five person household on the Energex network in Brisbane, May 2018. One non-exclusive energy plan per retailer shown.
^By clicking on a brand name, you may leave Canstar Blue and be taken to a referral partner to compare. You agree that Canstar Blue’s terms and conditions apply to this referral. If you click on a brand that is not a referral partner, you will be taken to a brand page on Canstar Blue.
This cost comparison shows that Alinta Energy, AGL and QEnergy currently offer the cheapest electricity plans in South East Queensland, with other big power companies EnergyAustralia and Origin also reasonably competitive on price. These cost estimates are calculated using average electricity usage data for a five person household in a selected Brisbane suburb. Costs can vary between suburbs, so try our electricity comparison tool to see which provider is cheapest in your area. You will also see details of latest deals.
Fixed vs variable rate plans
Most of the plans listed above are variable rate plans, meaning the prices you are changed can change at any time. Some energy retailers also offer fixed rate plans, whereby you can lock in competitive prices now and potentially save in the long run. Fixed rate plans are less common, usually only offered by the big three power companies. However, EnergyAustralia is currently the only one of the big three to offer a fixed rate deal in the shape of its ‘Secure Saver’. As you can see from the table above, this plan is already quite price competitive, meaning locking in for two years could be an option worth considering.
Energy discounts in Queensland
Energy discounts are crucial in bringing down the cost of your bills, but it’s important to understand exactly what you’re getting. Discounts are typically available for paying your bills on time, or by direct debit, and some providers will give you money off for receiving your communications by email instead of post, or for signing up online. Here are some questions you should get the answers to when it comes to discounts:
- Is the discount off your entire bill, or just usage or supply charges? As usage charges will make up the majority of your bill, this should be your preference, although some providers do take discounts off your entire bill.
- How long is the benefit period? It’s typically that the headline discount offers you see will only apply for the first year of your plan. After that, you will start paying the non-discounted rates – which as you can see from the table above, are a lot more expensive.
- What are the conditions of your discount and what happens if you don’t meet them? Most people will find it easy to pay their bills on time or by direct debit, but failing to do so one billing period could result in you losing the benefit all together. You could even be slugged a fee.
Our comparison of Queensland electricity plans shows that Alinta Energy and AGL currently offer the biggest conditional discounts at 28% off usage charges. In the case of Alinta, its discount is available for paying on time, while AGL insists that customers pay by direct debit. Be aware that these plans have benefit periods, after which you will be left paying the full, non-discounted price.
Click Energy is also worth a mention as its 22% discount applies to your entire bill and is ongoing for as long as you stick with the contract. Dodo Power & Gas also has an ongoing discount off usage charges. These are examples of retailers having discounts that do not expire after a year or two. These may be good options if you don’t much like the idea of recontacting or switching providers every 12 months or so.
When it comes to weighing up your options, you should also consider any additional incentives offered by the electricity retailers. These should not dictate your final decision, but they can be a helpful point of difference when looking at comparable plans. It’s common to find sign-up incentives like $50 bill credit when you join online, or even a month’s free energy. Meanwhile Simply Energy has a specific offer for RACQ members that results in an extra discount off usage charges.
New electricity providers in Queensland
Queensland does not have quite as many electricity retailers competing for your custom as Victoria or New South Wales, but four new providers have entered the market since it was deregulated. They are Mojo Power, Red Energy, Powershop and most recently as discussed above, Alinta Energy.
As you can see from our price comparison above, Mojo Power is different to other electricity providers because it does not offer any discounts as such. Instead it promises access to wholesale rates, provided you first subscribe and pay a monthly or annual fee. Mojo Power’s usage and supply charges in Brisbane are fairly competitive, but the savings are largely negated because you need to purchase an EnergyPass to access these rates in the first place – costing $35 per month. However, you can save money by buying a year’s membership upfront. While Mojo Power does not appear particularly competitive in our comparison, households with very high electricity usage could save money because they are purchasing power at a lower rate.
Powershop is a unique case because its best prices are available by purchasing packs of power in advance at cheaper rates. The costs listed above for Powershop are based on the purchase of an Online Saver pack each month, but further savings are possible if you buy larger packs for future use. Meanwhile Alinta Energy and Red Energy are more straightforward energy providers, simply delivering easy to understand plans and great prices.
How to save on electricity in Queensland
As we’ve established, Queensland does not have as many electricity providers as other states, but you can still save money if you’re a savvy energy shopper. It’s as simple as knowing what type of contract you’re on, and what discount you are eligible for.
- There are two types of energy contracts in SE Queensland – standard contract and market contracts. If you’re still on a standard contract, you are paying too much. Contacting your retailer and asking to be moved onto their cheapest market offer is the quickest and easiest way to save hundreds of dollars a year.
- Even if you’re already on a market contract, you could still be paying too much. This is because the cheapest deals are available through the sort of conditional discounts we discussed previously. These have benefit periods, so if you’ve been on the same market offer for a couple of years, you will also be paying too much and could save by switching to a new discounted offer.
Electricity prices do not need to come down for you to save money, and the increased competition in SE Queensland should ensure you have even more opportunities to save. You need to take these opportunities.
Highest rated electricity providers in Queensland
Energy discounts help reduce your energy costs, and incentives are a nice bonus, but the most important thing to consider when selecting an energy plan is the overall value it offers you. It’s also worth considering other factors such as customer service, because no one wants to feel like they’re not being heard when you have a query or problem to raise. That’s why Canstar Blue annually surveys households in Queensland to find out how they rate their electricity provider on important factors like value for money, customer service, and most importantly, overall customer satisfaction. In 2018, Alinta Energy has been rated highest overall.
The key message to take from this comparison is that it’s always a good idea to review your energy plans and assess other offers on the market. Households in Brisbane do not get the best deal on electricity, so unless you’re happy paying over the odds, make sure you shop around. There are savings to be found.