Electricity Supply Charges Explained

Electricity Supply Charges: Costs per Day

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In this article, Canstar Blue breaks down what an electricity supply charge is and how it impacts your final energy bill.

Finding the right energy plan for you means understanding your typical power usage, but it also involves picking a provider with a competitive supply charge. While you might try to cut back on how much energy you use around the home to save on bills – and argue with the kids about turning off the lights – the fact is that supply charges must be paid regardless of your power usage. So, finding a cheap supply charge is one of many things to consider when finding a good deal. It could make a big difference to your overall costs.

What is an electricity supply charge?

An electricity supply charge is what households must pay simply for being continuously connected to the energy network. This is a cost usually charged daily in cents, with retailers adding up each daily charge to give you on your next bill. Supply costs typically range from about 80c per day to $1.50 per day depending on your retailer and where you live.

So long as you want to be connected to the electricity network and receive power to your home, you’ll need to pay a supply charge. While ‘supply charge’ is now the most common term used to describe this cost, you may previously have seen it referred to as:

  • Fixed Charge
  • Daily Supply Charge
  • Service Charge (or Service to Property Charge)

The supply charge is not related to your usage – instead this figure on your bill is a daily amount your energy provider charges your property for being connected to the network. Even if you don’t use any electricity in a billing period, this rate will still be deducted provided that your supply is connected. If you’ve ever gone away for a few weeks and come home to a large power bill, your daily supply charge could be a reason for it.

If you’re looking to cut your overall power costs, you will need to pay close attention to your electricity usage charges. Unlike with your supply charge, you can have a direct impact on how much you pay for your energy usage by being more energy efficient around the home.

Where do I find the supply charge on my bill?

A supply charge is shown as cents per day on your energy bill and as the total amount for the billing period. Note the highlighted row below. In this case, you can see the customer pays $1.007 per day for electricity supply, which adds up to $91.61 over the 91-day billing period.

supply charge power bill

Electricity supply charges in Australia

So, what do electricity supply charges actually look like, and what can you expect to pay per day? To offer a guide, Canstar Blue has calculated the average supply charge in cents per day (c/day) for single rate tariffs across each distribution network in New South Wales, Victoria, south-east Queensland, South Australia, the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania. 

State Distribution Network Average Electricity Supply Charge (c/day)
NSW Ausgrid 98.4c
NSW Endeavour Energy 105.3c
NSW Essential Energy 172.9c
VIC AusNet Services 123.6c
VIC Citipower 108.1c
VIC Jemena 107.4c
VIC Powercor 122.3c
VIC United Energy 100.8c
QLD Energex 121.3c
SA SA Power Networks 114.4c
ACT Evoenergy 107.9c
TAS TasNetworks 108.7c

Source: www.canstarblue.com.au – 09/10/2023. Average electricity usage rates based on non-solar only plans on Canstar’s database for each respective rate type (single rate and controlled load), available for annual usages based on the reference usage amounts for each distributor: NSW, VIC, QLD and SA per AER, VIC per Victorian Default Offer, ACT per ICRC, TAS per median usage in the Office of the Tasmanian Regulator’s report, Typical Electricity Customers in Tasmania 2022. In Queensland, the tariffs are more commonly referred to as tariff 11 (single rate), tariff 31 (controlled load 1), and tariff 33 (controlled load 2). In Tasmania, the tariffs are more commonly referred to as tariff 31 (single rate) and tariff 41 (controlled load).

Energy deals with cheap electricity rates

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Ausgrid network in Sydney but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 3911kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Citipower network in Melbourne but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Energex network in Brisbane but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4613kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the SA Power network in Adelaide but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4011kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Why is there more than one supply charge on my bill?

Some households with a controlled load tariff, in addition to their standard tariff, will be charged an extra daily supply charge. This is because a controlled load is a separated metered tariff for appliances like hot water systems and pool pumps, which could also demand a daily supply charge. Whether you need to pay this extra supply charge depends on which energy distribution network you happen to live on. The good news is that these costs are usually small in comparison to standard supply charges, often just three or four cents per day.

In the example snippet taken from a price factsheet, below, you can see three ‘Peak Anytime’ (usage) charges, which are your standard charges, and daily supply charge added to this. A separate controlled tariff also has its own supply charge added. In this case, the customer will be paying 84.10 cents per day for standard supply and an additional 3.60c per day for controlled load supply.

electricity bill supply charge

Why do I need to pay a supply charge?

The cost of energy distribution (i.e. maintaining the poles and wires) makes up a significant part of your overall power costs, with distributors in each state passing their costs onto the retailers, who then pass them onto their customers. You could think of supply charges as the costs incurred by your retailer for supplying energy to your property, especially given that it’s the local distribution company that actually sends someone to read your energy meter (if you don’t have a smart meter) every few months.

Why understanding supply charges is important

In the example bill above, you can see that the cost of electricity supply is relatively small in comparison to the cost of electricity usage. However, this will not be the same for all households. For those with low energy usage, the supply charge will make up a higher proportion of their overall energy costs, while for customers with higher energy usage, the cost of supply will likely make up a lower proportion of overall costs. As a general rule:

  • Households with low energy usage should pay particular attention to the cost of supply
  • Households with high energy usage should pay particular attention to the cost of usage

But of course, it’s wise to pay attention to all costs.

Also, consider that if you find a plan with low usage rates, the retailer may compensate for this with higher supply costs. It also works the other way around.

Who sets electricity supply charges?

Electricity supply charges are set by individual retailers, or by state governments, depending on whether you live in a state with a deregulated electricity market or not. In Victoria, NSW, SEQ and SA, electricity retailers are free to set their own supply charges, along with usage rates and other terms. Meanwhile households in Western Australia, Northern Territory, Tasmania and regional Queensland have their charges set by their respective governments. Energy prices in these areas remain regulated.

When do electricity supply charges change?

Provided that you’re on a variable rate market offer, electricity retailers can change their supply charges whenever they feel like. However, they must give written notice of this. Households on a fixed rate plan have their supply charges locked in for a set period. In general, supply and usage charges are amended every 12 months – usually in July in most areas.

Some companies, however, have been known to change their prices on a regular basis, so it’s important to keep an eye on your bills as well as any other communications from your retailer as these may include important information about price changes.

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Kelseigh Wrigley
Energy Specialist
Kelseigh Wrigley was a content producer at Canstar Blue for three years until 2024, most recently as an Energy Specialist. She holds a Bachelor of Journalism from the Queensland University of Technology.

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