Canberra does things a little differently to other parts of Australia when it comes to power. For starters, electricity prices are regulated – which means the government determines exactly what you pay (fitting for a city full of politicians and bureaucrats). Regulation certainly has its benefits, however, as customers in the ACT generally pay less than households in most other parts. But the downside to regulation is that only a few electricity retailers want to operate in the ACT, so customers are fairly limited in their options. But that’s not to say that you can’t save by shopping around and being energy savvy. In this article, Canstar Blue discusses everything you need to know to find a great deal on electricity in the ACT.
Canberra Electricity Providers
There are only 12 electricity providers servicing residential customers in Canberra and the ACT. They are:
- Amber Electric
- Elysian Energy
- Energy Locals
- Origin Energy
- Radian Energy
- ReAmped Energy
- Red Energy
- Simply Energy
- Social Energy
Business electricity customers, however, have a few extra options. In addition to those listed above, business customers can choose from:
- Next Business Energy
- ERM Power
While there are other options, ActewAGL supplies the vast majority of residential electricity customers in the ACT and surrounding areas. However, with increased competition from Origin Energy and EnergyAustralia in particular – plus more to come (potentially) in the future – it’s important to regularly compare offers to make sure you’re getting a good deal. Just because the government sets a maximum price for power, doesn’t mean you can’t find cheaper!
ACT Energy Prices
Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database for the ACT. These costs are based on annual energy usage of 5499kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff, and a selected postcode in Canberra, but these prices will vary depending on your own circumstances. We show one product per retailer, listed in order of price. Use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. This table includes products from referral partners†. Our database may not cover all deals available in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.
Origin Energy now has a wide range of energy products in the ACT, with a number of market offers. The first comes without a discount, but fixed rates for 12 months, and the next carries variable rates for that same time period. It also has some default offers.
Energy Locals offers Canberrans two unique market deals: Online Member and Local Member. Both of these plans come with a monthly membership fee, which claims to unlock competitive wholesale electricity prices for customers. As the name suggests, Online Member is only available to bill-payers who prefer to deal with their provider online via web chat, email or portal.
Now a major electricity retailer in NSW, Red Energy offers a couple of market offers in the ACT. The ‘Living Energy Saver’ comes without any discounts, just decent base rates. Red Energy also offers one of its Qantas Frequent Flyer product in the Canberra area.
EnergyAustralia has two market offers and one standard plan available to ACT customers – Total Plan Home, No Frills and Basic Home: Total Plan Home features a guaranteed discount off usage and supply charge for 12 months, plus fixed rates, while the No Frills also locks in rates for a year but comes without a discount. Its last plan is a basic offer with average prices.
ReAmped Energy is the newest provider to enter the ACT market, bringing its low-cost plans and transparent pricing to households. There are currently three market offers from ReAmped Energy – Advance, Handshake and Classic – each of which will suit a variety of customers. All three deals offer competitive rates, but are not locked in.
ActewAGL is a joint-venture between the ACT government and AGL – one of Australia’s largest energy companies. ActewAGL dominates the ACT residential market, with a market share of around 90 per cent. ActewAGL is also associated with EvoEnergy, which is the energy distributor for the majority of the territory, responsible for maintaining the poles, wires, meters and all other components that make it possible to deliver power to your home. ActewAGL currently has three market offers for customers in the ACT, most of which have discounts and incentives.
Powerclub is a new breed of energy retailer, claiming access to wholesale electricity prices at the cost of an annual membership fee of just $39. “You can’t buy better than wholesale,” Powerclub says. To avoid paying excessively high rates when spot wholesale prices jump, customers also have a ‘Powerbank’ from which they are charged instead. This bank is then replenished when wholesale rates are low.
One of the latest entrants to the ACT retail market is Radian Energy, a Brisbane-based company that claims to be big on renewable energy and transparent about pricing. Radian Energy is currently offering one market offer in Canberra, known as ‘Grid To Go’, which comes with fixed rates, no exit fees and a monthly billing option.
While Simply Energy is technically available to ACT residents, it is only for customers who sign up to the ACT government’s Next Generation Energy Storage Program (NextGen). Under this program, customers receive discounted electricity storage as part of a trial of Reposit technology. Reposit allows customers to use their batteries for Demand Management, exporting electricity from their batteries when demand is high to stabilise the grid.
Social Energy markets itself as a ‘new kind of retailer’, specialising in plans that benefit solar customers. Only Canberra residents who have an eligible solar storage battery along with solar panels can sign up to Social Energy. On paper, this retailer offers higher than average feed-in tariffs to those with compatible systems.
Canberra Energy Plans & Prices
Electricity prices in Canberra and the ACT are government-regulated, meaning that a regulator sets the maximum price electricity companies are allowed to charge their customers. Retailers are, however, still allowed to offer cheaper ‘market offers’ which may include discounts and other sign-up incentives.
The cheapest electricity product from each retailer in the ACT on our database is displayed below. These costs are based on annual energy usage of 5499kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff, and a selected postcode in Canberra, but these prices will vary depending on your own circumstances. Use our energy comparison tool above for a quote where you live. Our database may not cover all deals available in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.
List of cheapest electricity providers ACT
|Electricity Provider||Electricity Plan||Discount||Annual Cost|
|Elysian Energy||Power Maximiser||0%||$1,317|
|Radian Energy||Grid To Go||0%||$1,328|
|Energy Locals||Online Member||0%||$1,426|
|ActewAGL||Home 20% Offer||20%||$1,449|
|Origin Energy*||Everyday Rewards||0%||$1,474|
|Red Energy^||Living Energy Saver||0%||$1,511|
|Powerclub||Powerbank Home Flat||0%||$1,633|
|EnergyAustralia||Total Plan Home||12%||$1,650|
|Amber Electric||Amber Plan||0%||$1,770|
|Basic Plan Information Documents|
Prices based on the EvoEnergy electricity distribution network, postcode 2600, July 2021. One product per retailer shown. *Refers to Controlled Load Rate 2 pricing. ^Refers to Controlled Load Rate 1 pricing.
As you can see, there is quite a big difference between the cheapest and most expensive energy products in the ACT. With this in mind, you would of course prefer that money in your account rather than your energy company’s. It’s also interesting to note that some of those big discount plans mentioned above don’t register in the table of cheapest deals. In some cases, retailers make their no discount plans even cheaper than their products claiming big savings!
Once again, the prices listed are indicative of a standard household on the ACT network and may not reflect your own circumstance. To find the cheapest retailer for you, be sure to use Canstar Blue’s price comparison tool above.
Additional discounts may be available to customers who also purchase gas through the same energy company. Keep in mind that discounts sometimes don’t tell the whole story – deals with seemingly generous discounts can mask higher rates, potentially costing you more. This is why it’s important to closely review Energy Price Fact Sheets before signing up to a new energy deal.
Latest figures from the Australian Energy Regular (AER) show that just 21% of households in the ACT are on a market electricity contract, meaning 79% remain on standard regulated contracts. Chances are that these people could save by switching to a market offer that best meets their needs. If you’re interested, see how these prices compare to those in NSW.
ACT (Canberra) Solar Feed-in Tariffs
Households with solar in the ACT (Canberra) have the following feed-in tariffs to choose from when picking an energy retailer:
|Retailer||Minimum Feed-in Tariff (kWh)||Maximum Feed-in Tariff (kWh)|
|ActewAGL||7c||12c (for the first 8kWh/day), 7c thereafter|
|Origin Energy||7c||20c (must purchase solar system through Origin)|
|ReAmped Energy||0c||13c (for the first 5kWh/day), 5c thereafter|
|Social Energy*||9c||40c (for the first 300kWh/quarter, must have solar & battery), 9c thereafter|
Source: Canstar Blue electricity database/respective retailer websites, July 2021.
ACT Electricity Tariffs
Although prices are regulated in the ACT, households in Canberra can still choose their electricity tariff, provided they have a suitable meter installed. An electricity tariff refers to how customers are charged for power. You could pay the same rate for all your electricity usage (single rate), or pay different rates for different levels of usage (block rate). You could also pay different electricity rates depending on the time of day (time of use tariff). Choosing the right tariff for your specific energy usage habits is crucial to getting the best deal possible.
ActewAGL, EnergyAustralia, Energy Locals and Origin Energy all offer these tariffs. They also have a controlled load option, which charges customers a low rate for high-use appliances (such as hot water) on dedicated networks.
Understanding your energy bill
Everything we have just told you is pretty pointless if you’re not sure how to make heads or tails from your electricity bill. Your standard residential electricity bill is comprised of usage charges and supply charges.
- Usage charges: Also known as demand charges, these charges refer to the cost of the electricity you’ve used. Think of it as the actual cost for using an appliance. Usage charges depend on your electricity tariff, described earlier.
- Supply charges: A supply charge is a fixed daily fee that’s added to your bill to cover the cost of transporting the electricity to your home. Supply charges are incurred regardless of how much power you use, if any. Supply charges in Canberra are usually between 80c/day and $1.20/day.
As a general rule of thumb, low usage households should look for low daily supply charges, as these will make up a higher proportion of overall costs. Households that use lots of power will likely be better off looking for low usage rates, as these will inevitably make up a higher proportion of their overall costs.
Each retailer is required by law to publish ‘Energy Price Fact Sheets’, disclosing electricity rates, fees and key contract conditions. Be sure to read the Energy Price Fact Sheet before signing up to an energy deal. If you’re not sure what to look for, check out our article on how to read Energy Price Fact Sheets.
Which energy provider is the best in Canberra?
ActewAGL is undeniably the biggest electricity provider in Canberra. This may be because it offers great prices and service, or it could simply be that many ACT residents simply don’t realise they now have other options to switch to. After all, the AER reported that ActewAGL was the third most complained about residential electricity retailer in the ACT, receiving twice as many complaints as EnergyAustralia.
Because electricity prices in the ACT are regulated, there probably won’t be much difference in price between Origin, ActewAGL, Energy Locals, EnergyAustralia and Red Energy. That said, there’s no reason to pay more for electricity than you have to, or accept inferior customer service. With only a few options to choose from, it won’t be too difficult to work out which is cheapest. Check out the link below for more guides on finding a great deal on energy.
Original author: Brendon O’Neill