Once a regulated energy state, Canberra has since seen a number of reforms passed regarding the state of its electricity offers. From implementing 100% renewable energy infrastructure to introducing its own ‘capped’ price for power in late 2021, Canberrans now have more choice than ever before when it comes to picking a power plan that packs a punch.
Finding these power plans however, may still be quite a struggle for the average household in the nation’s capital, particularly as the state continues to refine its processes even today. Luckily for you readers at home, this is where Canstar Blue comes in handy. In this guide we’ll highlight what you need to do when it comes to picking a good electricity provider in Canberra, from the retailers available, pricing and understanding how your electricity will be charged.
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Canberra Electricity Providers
There are currently eight electricity providers servicing residential customers in Canberra and the ACT. They are:
Business electricity customers, however, have a few extra options. In addition to those listed above, business customers can choose from:
- Next Business Energy
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 a handful more in recent times – 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!
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%. 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 a wide range of market offers for customers in the ACT, some of which have discounts and incentives.
Amber is one of the newest retailers to enter Canberra and surrounds. It has one market offer that gives customers access to wholesale electricity prices in exchange for a monthly membership fee. Amber customers will need to have a smart meter installed to sign up.
Another smaller power company to kick off business in the nation’s capital is CovaU. It has a few offers in the ACT some of which feature a guaranteed discount off the usage charge component of energy bills. While discounts can be a great way for consumers to save on power costs, just be sure to check the base rates are competitive or any potential savings could be nullified.
EnergyAustralia has two market offers and one standard plan available to ACT customers – Flexi Plan, Balance Plan Home and Basic Home: Flexi Plan features a guaranteed discount off usage and supply charge for 12 months, while Balance Plan Home also offer a 12-month benefit period but comes without a discount. Its last plan is a basic offer with average prices.
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.
The latest retailer to launch in the nation’s capital is Nectr, a brand that claims to be all about simple low prices and a choice that’s better for the environment. It has one market offer in Canberra with no exit fees.
Origin Energy now has a wide range of energy products in the ACT, with a number of market offers. The first comes with a discount and a 12-month benefit period, while the next awards Everyday Rewards points for that same time period. It also has some default offers.
A major electricity retailer in NSW and Victoria, Red Energy also 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.
Which provider has the cheapest electricity plans in Canberra?
Currently, Origin Energy is offering one of the cheapest prices for electricity in the ACT. This is followed by Red Energy and ActewAGL. For a full comparison of prices, please refer to the table below.
In this table, we compare prices on the Evoenergy network. This is everywhere from Tennent to Gungahlin. We show one product per retailer, listed from the lowest priced estimate first. See here for information on the ICRC Reference Price, which assumes general energy usage of 6,100kWh/year, meaning the ICRC Reference Price is $2,152/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Use our comparison tool for a specific comparison. Our database may not cover all deals available in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.
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|Electricity Provider||Electricity Plan||Difference from Reference Price^||Conditional Discounts||Price Estimate*|
|Origin Energy||Go Variable (Rate 1)||30% Less Than Reference Price||No conditional discounts||$1,506|
|Red Energy||Living Energy Saver (Rate 1)||23% Less Than Reference Price||No conditional discounts||$1,658|
|ActewAGL||Direct Saver||16% Less Than Reference Price||No conditional discounts||$1,812|
|CovaU||Freedom Online||12% Less Than Reference Price||$50 online sign-up credit||$1,834incl. conditional discount|
|Amber Electric||Amber Plan – Variable Wholesale Prices (estimate only)||11% Less Than Reference Price||No conditional discounts||$1,912|
|Nectr||100% Clean (Rate 1)||5% Less Than Reference Price||$50 refer a friend credit||$1,995incl. conditional discount|
|Energy Locals||Online Member (Rate 1)||6% Less Than Reference Price||No conditional discounts||$2,031|
|EnergyAustralia||Flexipower||Equal to Reference Price||No conditional discounts||$2,155|
|Basic Plan Information Documents|
*Price assumes general energy usage of 6,100kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Estimated price includes any conditional discounts that may be available. Pricing based on Evoenergy network in Canberra, but prices differ between distribution areas. November 2023.
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:
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|Retailer||Minimum Feed-in Tariff (kWh)||Maximum Feed-in Tariff (kWh)|
|ActewAGL||10c||15c (for first 15kWh/day, 11c/kWh thereafter)|
|Amber||0c||5.91c (estimated based on wholesale prices)|
|EnergyAustralia||7.6c||12c (first 15kWh/day, 7.6c thereafter)|
|Origin Energy||10c||20c (must purchase solar system through Origin that’s under 7kW)|
Source: Canstar Blue electricity database/respective retailer websites, October 2023.
ACT Electricity Tariffs
Households in Canberra can also 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.
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. 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.