Business Electricity Providers

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Canstar Blue’s annual review of business electricity providers compares AGL, EnergyAustralia, Origin, Alinta Energy, Red Energy and Simply Energy on factors including customer service, bill & cost clarity, online tools & advice, payment plan options, value for money and overall customer satisfaction.

See our Ratings Methodology.

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Most Satisfied Customers | Alinta Energy

Alinta Energy has been rated the best electricity provider for small businesses in Australia. Alinta earned five-star reviews on its online tools & advice, payment plan options, self-service, value for money and overall customer satisfaction.

Alinta Energy rated best for business electricity

Electricity is one of the biggest overheads for many Australian businesses, particularly in light of rising power prices. In fact, half of the businesses we surveyed (50%) said electricity is their greatest financial concern. As any business owner knows, running a successful company requires finding the best supplier at a competitive price. The same, of course, goes for energy. Why pay more for a service than you need to?

Most businesses are energy-savvy, with 79% of survey respondents – who own or help run a business – claiming to have made a conscious effort to use less power in the last year. 42% of businesses have also invested in tools to monitor and understand their energy usage. However, only 44% have taken one of the biggest leaps and switched providers in an effort to save some money. While 59% said they believe their business gets a good deal on power, you can’t know for sure until you shop around.

The needs of businesses are different to those of residential customers, so where do you even begin comparing energy providers for business? Well, Canstar Blue annually surveys hundreds of Australian small businesses, asking them to rate their energy company across key criteria like customer service, billing & cost clarity, payment plan options, online tools & advice, value for money and – ultimately – overall satisfaction. You’ll never really know how good or bad an energy company is until you sign up and find out for yourself, but our review provides a helpful guide because the ratings are based on the real-world experiences of business customers just like you. So, what did we find this year?

Best-Rated Electricity Providers for Business

Power technicians doing maintenance

Canstar Blue’s 2019 business electricity review saw six major providers compared and rated in the following order for overall customer satisfaction:

  • 1st Alinta Energy
  • 2nd Red Energy
  • 3rd Simply Energy
  • 4th AGL
  • 5th Origin Energy
  • 6th EnergyAustralia

Alinta Energy replaces Origin as the best-rated business electricity provider from last year, scoring five stars for online tools & advice, self-service, payment plan options, and value for money, in addition to overall satisfaction. Alinta got four stars for customer service and bill & cost clarity.

An honourable mention also goes to Red Energy. Finishing in second place overall, Red Energy was the only provider to achieve five stars for both customer service and bill & cost clarity, while also recording top marks for online tools and advice.

The average monthly electricity bill for the businesses we surveyed this year was $1,132, which is a big chunk of change no matter what type of business you’re in. The good news, however, is that there are many energy providers all desperate for your… business. So, read on as we provide details about the six energy providers compared in this report, in addition to several others also worthy of consideration.

Business Electricity Providers

Business electricity 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 major energy providers, there a number of retailers that primarily or exclusively serve business customers, including:

  • QEnergy
  • Blue NRG
  • Commander
  • Powerdirect
  • ERM Power
  • Next Business Energy

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. 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.

Let’s now take a look at what the six major providers in our 2019 review have to offer, as well as those business-focussed providers already mentioned.

Alinta Energy Business Plans

alinta energy logo

Small business customers have the option of signing up to our 2019 customer satisfaction award winner, Alinta Energy. If you’re a SME (small to medium enterprise) in NSW, VIC or SA, Alinta’s range extends to provide electricity only, while WA-based businesses can be supplied dual fuel, which includes gas.

  • Business Advantage: This plan is said to have straightforward low rates and doesn’t come with any conditional discounts or bill credits. Business Advantage is available on a single rate or time of use tariff, with options for controlled load if appropriate to your business.

Red Energy Business Plans

Red Energy

Red Energy’s business plans mirror its residential offerings. In its line-up is one plan with a pay on time discount, plus two plans that give customers the opportunity to earn Qantas points upon sign-up and paying bills in full. Business customers can also choose to have their gas supplied through Red Energy.

  • Red Easy Saver: This is Red Energy’s standard plan that may or may not come with a pay on time discount on business energy depending on the state you’re in.
  • Qantas Red Saver: The Qantas Red Saver plan comes with additional Qantas points in addition to the same pay on time discount as above. Business customers can earn 10,000 bonus Qantas points on sign up, plus 2 points per $1 they spend on their power bill.
  • Qantas Red Easy: This plan is much like the Red Saver in that you’ll receive 10,000 Qantas points for choosing Red Energy for your business electricity needs, but skips the pay on time discount – instead opting for offering lower rates. You’ll also receive the same 2 Qantas points per $1 spent on your bill.

Simply Energy Business Plans

Simply Energy isn’t shy of a partnership, reflected in not only its residential offerings, but its business electricity plans, too. It partners with Qantas Business Rewards as well as clubs NRMA and RACV to bring customers extra value through their power bills. There’s also a standard plan available in all states that comes with a modest electricity bill credit one year after signing up to the plan.

  • Business Plus: With this plan, small business customers will receive a credit to go towards their power bill either every year or just on the first anniversary, depending on the state you’re in.
  • Business RACV/NRMA Plus: RACV and NRMA members can earn double the anniversary credit as above. This plan has no lock-in contract and comes with the same rates as mentioned above. This plan is only available in Victoria and NSW.
  • Business Qantas Points: Small businesses that frequently fly with Qantas may benefit from this plan, as customers receive 4 Qantas points for ever dollar spent on their power bills. Once again this is a no lock-in contract plan with the same usage and supply charges as the plans above.

AGL Energy Business Plans

AGL’s set of business electricity plans are similar to those offered to residential customers. Its plan range includes the Business Essentials and Business Smart Saver products. The first is a fixed rate contract with low rates, while the second has variable rates with a guaranteed discount.

  • Business Essentials: This plan has supposedly low rates that are fixed for 24 months, meaning no price changes during this time. On this plan, customers will pay bills every 30 days. This plan has no lock in contract or exit fees.
  • Business Smart Saver: This energy deal comes with a discount on usage and supply charges that customers are guaranteed to receive. The contract has a 24-month benefit period, after which customers are moved to a different product. Better yet, there are no exit fees if you choose to leave AGL.

Origin Energy Business Plans

Origin Energy has two variable rate market offers for business customers. One product comes with a guaranteed discount on your power bill, which means you receive the discount regardless of when or how you pay – maybe great for businesses trying to manage their other priorities. The other is a basic plan with rates the same as the Reference Price/VDO.

  • Business Flexi: This product gives business customers a guaranteed discount off their whole electricity bill. The plan has a benefit period of 12 months and businesses won’t be locked into any contract or have to pay any exit fees if or when they switch away from the plan.
  • Business Basic: This plan is suited to businesses who want a no-fuss plan that doesn’t require much maintenance. The trade-off is that it doesn’t come with any discount off the Reference Price/VDO.

EnergyAustralia Business Plans

EnergyAustralia logo

EnergyAustralia is another power retailer that offers business customers a similar range of products to residential customers. Its offers include No Frills, Total Plan and Basic Business. Rates, fees and discounts vary across different locations, so be sure to check EnergyAustralia’s price fact sheets for more details.

  • No Frills: This deal gives business customers ‘simply low rates’ for a benefit period of 12 months. Rates are also fixed for this timeframe.
  • Total Plan: The Total Plan includes a guaranteed discount for a benefit period of one year. The discount applies to both usage and supply charges. Like the No Frills plan, this product has fixed rates.
  • Basic Business: This is EnergyAustralia’s variable rate plan that comes with no discounts and standard rates equal to the Reference Price/VDO. A unique feature of this plan is that it doesn’t charge late payment fees.

Other Business Electricity Providers

QEnergy

QEnergy specialises in business electricity for small and medium-sized businesses within NSW, VIC, QLD and SA. It also has residential energy plans on offer. Businesses looking to sign up to QEnergy have a few plans to choose from, with differing sign-up criteria and multiple tariff options. Something that makes QEnergy stand out for small businesses is its commitment to energy-efficiency and sustainability.

Blue NRG

blue nrg logo

Blue NRG has a distinct focus on SMEs (small to medium-sized enterprise) in Victoria, NSW and South Australia. This retailer first launched in Victoria in 2012, but has since expanded to the aforementioned states. It doesn’t appear to offer discounts, bill credits or sign-up incentives, but in exchange customers don’t pay credit card fees. The website prompts you to contact the provider directly for a quote.

Commander

commander power and gas logo

Commander is first and foremost a business electricity retailer in South Australia, Victoria and NSW, although it does also service residential addresses. With this retailer, you’ll score the best value by bundling your electricity with other services, such as office phone plans and internet. Commander is currently offering a market offer, as well as a plan equal to the Reference Price/VDO.

Powerdirect

Powerdirect transparent (large)

While Powerdirect has made an obvious effort to advertise its residential electricity plans in recent times, what this retailer is better-known for is its business energy services. Backed by AGL, it operates across Victoria, NSW, Queensland and South Australia. Powerdirect appears to have one plan available for Aussie businesses, the Business Discount Saver, which comes with a guaranteed discount on your total bill.

ERM Power

ERM Power logo

ERM Power started off as an energy consultancy group, moving into energy retail in 2008. It exclusively supplies business energy customers and operates across all Australian states and territories. With ERM Power, you can choose between fixed and bundled tariffs, giving flexibility in how you pay. ERM Power also owns a decent portfolio of energy generation assets, mainly coal-fired power stations.

Next Business Energy

next-business-energy-logo

Next Business Energy has been powering Australian businesses since its launch in 2014. It is privately listed, in its own words “100% Australian owned & operated energy”. This retailer services businesses in NSW, QLD, VIC, SA and the ACT, with plans to expand to the Northern Territory and Tasmania. Signing up to this retailer will also give you access to Nextconnect, it’s energy tracking and management app.

Small Business Electricity WA

The energy providers in our 2019 report only retail electricity to businesses in QLD, NSW, VIC, SA and the ACT. Energy markets outside of these areas face tighter regulations, and subsequently have fewer suppliers.

Businesses in Perth and the surrounding areas can only choose their electricity company if they are deemed ‘contestable’. That is, they consume more than 50mWh of electricity per year (that’s approx. 137 kWh/day). Contestable customers have several options, including:

  • Synergy
  • Alinta Energy
  • Perth Energy
  • Infinite Energy
  • Kleenheat

Perth business customers that use less than 137kWh per day however, have no choice but to sign up with Synergy. This will include many small restaurants, cafes, stores and the like. Similarly, customers do not have much choice outside of Perth, with most areas only supplied by Horizon Power. For more, see our WA Energy guide.

Small Business Electricity TAS

Tasmania’s electricity retail market remains fairly tightly-regulated, which means it isn’t bustling with competition. Unless you have a large business that consumes lots of energy, your only options remain Aurora Energy – the government-owned electricity and gas retailer – or new entrant to the market, 1st Energy. Large businesses using more than 150mWh/year may have other options. For more details, see our Tasmania Energy Guide.

Small Business Electricity NT

Only very large companies can choose their electricity supplier in the Northern Territory. For most customers, Jacana Energy is the only option. Business tariffs are government regulated in the NT and include a flat rate tariff called the ‘Everyday Business’. It also offers a unique tariff called ‘Business 6 to 6’, which applies a higher rate from 6am through to 6pm and a lower rate from 6pm to 6am. This makes the plan a particularly attractive tariff for businesses that operate at night. Some specialised tariffs may also apply for charity organisations and caravan parks.

Small Business Electricity Regional QLD

While businesses on the Energex network in the Brisbane area of south-east Queensland have lots of energy retailers to choose from, those on the Ergon Energy network in regional areas do not have a lot of choice. In most cases, businesses in these areas will have to sign up with Ergon Energy, although in some locations, QEnergy may be an alternative. It’s best to call QEnergy directly to see if the retailer is available in your area.

Which business electricity provider should you choose?

Having the ability to choose your electricity provider can be both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it means retailers will offer competitive deals to win your custom. While on the other hand, it means you need to be proactive and regularly compare retailers to ensure you’re still getting the best deal on electricity. The moment you take your power costs for granted, the moment you fall into the trap of paying too much. And that’s where many Aussie businesses now find themselves.

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.

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, you think about what you could do to be more energy-efficient, and 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 around.

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Frequently asked questions

Canstar Blue surveyed 1,600 Australian small to medium-sized business owners or decision makers (i.e. the main decision maker for the small business) across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction, via ISO 26362 accredited research panels managed by Qualtrics. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have an electricity account that they use for business and their business pays for – in this case, 879 small business owners/decision makers.

Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then by mean overall satisfaction. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.

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