The amount households in New South Wales pay for energy is dependent on a range of variables, including their contract type, retailer, the specific plan they sign up to, the tariffs they use and the discounts they may receive. However, Canstar Blue research shows that another factor can also play a costly role – location.
The area in which a customer lives has a direct impact on their ongoing electricity costs, as charges can vary considerably between energy distribution networks, even with the same retailer. This is because distributor costs are built into retailer plans and can account for up to 50% of your total bill.
Compare Electricity Plans in Your Suburb
For example, an Origin customer in the east of Sydney would pay a different amount to another Origin customer in the west of the city, even if they were signed up to the same energy plan and had identical usage habits. However, an Origin customer in regional NSW can expect to pay significantly more than both.
There are three electricity distribution networks in NSW:
- Ausgrid – servicing inner, northern and eastern metropolitan Sydney and surrounding areas, including Central Coast and Newcastle
- Endeavour Energy – servicing southern and western metropolitan Sydney and surrounding arrears, including the Blue Mountains and the Illawarra
- Essential Energy – servicing country and regional NSW
The result is that households in neighbouring suburbs can expect different electricity bills, and that retailers are cheaper on some networks than others.
How do costs compare between networks?
Canstar Blue has compared plans from the four major electricity retailers operating in NSW – Origin, AGL, EnergyAustralia and Red Energy. Using the same single rate tariff plans with the same discounts applied, the research found that households on the Essential Energy network are paying the highest price for power, with those on the Ausgrid network usually paying the least.
Given that the Essential Energy network services country and regional NSW – from Bathurst all the way west to Broken Hill – it is perhaps not surprising that costs are higher here. However, consumers may be surprised to learn the extent to which prices differ. There are also significant cost differences between the Ausgrid and Endeavour networks.
Households in the Sydney suburbs of Bankstown, Auburn and Ryde, for example, can expect to pay more for electricity than those in the neighbouring suburbs of Fairfield, Parramatta and Liverpool, even if their plans and usage are the same.
Ausgrid vs Endeavour vs Essential
In the table below, average costs are based on annual usage with all bill credits and conditional discounts included. Here are four published deals on our database on each distribution network. See here for further information on the Reference Price, which in this comparison assumes general energy usage of 3900kWh/year ($1,467/year) on the Ausgrid network, 4900kWh/year ($1,720/year) on the Endeavour network, and 4600kWh/year ($1,957/year) on the Essential network.
|Red Energy||Living Energy Saver||$1,336||$1,594||$1,785|
|Energy Australia||No Frills||$1,287||$1,546||$1,815|
|Origin Energy||Max Saver – Online Special||$1,279||$1,500||$1,707|
|Basic Plan Information Documents|
Pricing based on specific postcodes in Sydney, Coffs Harbour and Bathurst respectively, but prices may differ in your area. Use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. July 2019.
Out of the four energy providers above, Origin Energy comes across the cheapest in all three networks. The next best is AGL, coming in slightly over the average in the Ausgrid and Endeavour networks, but works out a little cheaper on the Essential network. EnergyAustralia does well to come under the average, but customers in rural NSW on the Essential network could be paying a bit more than other retailers.
While households on the Essential Energy network will pay higher rates regardless of their retailer, the difference in costs is significant. AGL customers on the Essential network can expect their bills to be about $110 per quarter more expensive than AGL customers on the Ausgrid network. Likewise, Red Energy customers on the Ausgrid network will pay roughly $63 less per quarter than those on the Endeavour network.
What can you do about it?
If you own a home on one of these networks, there is obviously little you can do about it, other than to compare plans to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible in your area. If you rent a home, or are considering where to buy, these results are worth keeping in mind.
Please note that these costs were accurate at the time of publication and are provided as a guide only.