This year over 600 small business owners across Australia had their say when it came to rating their electricity provider on key criteria like client service, value for money, bill and cost clarity, online tools and advice and ease of sign up. Canstar Blue has collated this data to give you a nuanced guide about the compared providers and help you make a more-informed purchase decision. Keep in mind that, while our ratings include five of the most prominent small business electricity retailers in Australia, you may find others operating in your area.
Canstar Blue surveyed 626 Australian small business owners/decision makers for their feedback on their energy retailer. Respondents had to have an electricity account that they use for business and that their business pays for, in order for their response to be eligible.
Respondents rate their satisfaction with their electricity and gas provider from zero to ten, where zero is extremely dissatisfied and ten is extremely satisfied. Provider satisfaction was rated by respondents on the following criteria:
The winning brand is the one that receives the highest Overall satisfaction rating once all the scores from the Overall satisfaction criteria are combined and averaged.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included, so not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The brands rated in this survey are listed below in order of best overall satisfaction.
Best Small Business Electricity Providers:
Topping the tables for a second year in a row is Alinta Energy, which scored five stars for its value for money, bill and cost clarity and online tools and advice, in addition to overall satisfaction.
Alinta was the only provider to score top marks for value for money and bill and cost clarity, while this year’s runner up, Origin Energy, was the only provider to score five stars for ease of sign up. Read on as we provide details about the five energy providers compared in this report.
Find more detailed information on our ratings methodology.
Alinta Energy came in first place this year, earning five stars for overall satisfaction, as well as for online tools and advice. It was also the only retailer to earn five stars for its value for money and bill and cost clarity. For client service and ease of sign up, Alinta Energy received four stars.
If you’re a SME (small to medium enterprise) in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland or South Australia, you have the option of signing up to Alinta Energy for electricity and natural gas. The retailer offers a range of business-specific plans for customers in this space, including a speciality offer that allows Qantas Business Rewards members to earn points when they pay their bill. All plans come with no exit fees or lock-in contracts and flexible payment options are available. Alinta Energy’s business energy range also extends to provide dual fuel options to eligible Western Australian-based businesses.
Origin Energy has climbed the ranks to second place in this year’s small business electricity provider ratings, achieving four stars for its overall satisfaction and bill and cost clarity. The retailer jumped to a notable five stars for its client service and online tools and advice and was the only provider to score top marks for ease of sign up. As for value for money, Origin Energy earned just three stars.
Origin Energy’s business products follow a similar structure to that of its residential offerings, sticking with two to three market offers in each area for electricity and natural gas. Leaning more towards variable rates these days, its plans differ between 12-month benefit periods and flexible contracts. All however, come with no exit fees for customers’ peace of mind. The retailer currently services SMEs for electricity, natural gas, LPG and solar products across NSW, VIC, QLD, SA and the Australian Capital Territory. Western Australian businesses may also be eligible for gas products.
EnergyAustralia has earned four stars for overall satisfaction and client service in this year’s ratings. In all other research categories however, it took away just three stars.
EnergyAustralia offers electricity and natural gas plans to small businesses across NSW, VIC, QLD, SA and the ACT. Its product range mirrors its residential range, with variable rates and no lock-in contracts. One plan comes with an extended benefit period of two years, while another offers a flexible contract. Both plans, however, don’t inflict exit fees if you choose to leave early. EnergyAustralia also offers carbon offset energy options to business customers.
Synergy was rated four stars for overall satisfaction, value for money and online tools and advice in this year’s ratings. It earned a notable five stars for its client service, but dipped back to three stars for its bill and cost clarity and ease of sign up.
Perth-based provider Synergy offers a range of plans for prospective business energy customers in the city and surrounds. Each plan comes with a unique proposition for customers, from going paperless to flexible pricing tariffs, and additional savings may be available to customers who bundle their business gas with Synergy.
Rounding out our small business electricity provider ratings this year is AGL, which earned an almost clean sweep of three stars. Its only four-star rating was for its ease of sign up.
AGL offers a selection of electricity and natural gas variable rate contracts to small businesses across NSW, VIC, QLD and SA. These plans come with varying benefit periods, some of which may require customers to agree to direct debit payments and e-billing to be eligible. However, all plans remain free of exit fees and lock-in contracts. Alongside its natural gas and electricity offers, the retailer also plays into the solar space for business customers, with plans and Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) available. WA-based businesses may also be eligible for dual fuel with AGL.
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Business energy has become big ‘business’ to electricity providers in Australia, not least because the usage needs of business customers are generally a lot higher than your typical household’s. While some providers publish specific energy rates for business customers, many instead operate on a personalised basis where rates are tailored or negotiated based on the specific customer’s needs.
In addition to the energy providers included in this report, there are a number of retailers that primarily or exclusively serve business customers, including:
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, or offer commercial solar packages or plans. They may also provide personal account managers so you always have a specific contact to get in touch with. Of course, if you’re not interested in these extras and services, and you’re simply looking for the cheapest price, you’ll need to shop around and get quotes from multiple providers.
If you have not compared electricity providers 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 Alinta Energy won this year’s award for having the most satisfied business customers, all of the major retailers that featured in this year’s report are perfectly viable electricity providers, albeit with different prices, features and other incentives.
For most Aussie business owners, the biggest energy concerns lie in price and usage. Nearly two-fifths (39%) of respondents said their business tries to save energy where possible, while 18% said that the cost of power was their business’ greatest financial concern. If your business holds similar sentiments, then choosing a provider may come down to the cheapest price possible or whether it has any energy efficiency or demand response programs that could help to offset the rising cost of energy.
Alternatively, 11% of respondents said they opt for greener or carbon neutral energy plans for their business, with a further 10% agreeing that they recently installed solar panels to cut back on energy costs. These kinds of customers may choose then to focus on a retailer that can cater to clean energy initiatives on their behalf, or offer a plan that will help return the most on their solar investment in the years to come.
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 you think about what your business could do to be more energy efficient. It also pays to regularly shop around to ensure you’re on the best deal that suits your business. Even if you think you’re already on a good deal, it never hurts to look.
Kelseigh Wrigley covers Australia’s retail energy market, growing her industry specific expertise over the last two years. She holds a Bachelor of Journalism at the Queensland University of Technology and has contributed her skills to online publications Hunter & Bligh and local radio station 4ZZZ.Meet the Editorial Team
Samantha Howse is Canstar Blue’s Consumer Research Specialist, coordinating the consumer research program behind our customer satisfaction awards across Canstar and Canstar Blue in Australia and New Zealand. Sam has earned a Bachelor of Business (Marketing) from Griffith University and, with seven years in market research and two years in marketing, she is experienced in survey design, implementation and analysis, coupled with an understanding of marketing principles and best practice.Meet the Research Team
According to the most recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian businesses consume about 154,439 gigawatt-hours of electricity per year, collectively. The actual amount of electricity a business consumes however, will depend on its size, hours of operation, energy efficiency and overall power usage needs.
According to Canstar Blue’s 2023 small business data, the average quarterly electricity bill for small businesses in Australia was $953. Queensland businesses were found to have the highest spend, with $1,117 recorded per quarter, while Victorian businesses paid just $741 a quarter for power.
Here are the previous winners of Canstar Blue’s Small Business Electricity Providers Customer Satisfaction Award:
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*Prices correct as of publication date.