Compare QLD electricity providers Alinta Energy, Click Energy, Red Energy, Origin, EnergyAustralia and AGL on customer service, bill & cost clarity, tools & advice, focus on environmental sustainability, value for money and overall customer satisfaction in 2018.
See our Ratings Methodology.
The Queensland electricity market is almost unrecognisable from just a couple of years ago, with several new retailers moving north and increasing competition since deregulation. This is good news for QLD households looking to reduce their energy bills, but the extra competition brings with it confusion. How are you going to decide which electricity provider is best for your personal circumstances and budget? Queenslanders pay some of the biggest energy bills in the country, so you’ll certainly want to get a great deal on price. But you’ll also want a power company that makes life a little easier with regards to customer service, billing information and general advice. That’s why Canstar Blue produces an annual comparison of electricity providers in SE Queensland, to see which are ticking all the boxes. So what did we find?
This year, our ratings are based on feedback from more than 1,500 Queenslanders who pay their energy bills, with six major electricity providers included in the results. However, only one was deemed worthy of a five-star review for overall customer satisfaction – and it’s one of the newbies. Alinta Energy arrived in SE Queensland in August 2017, in a joint-venture with the state Government-owned CS Energy. Since then it has made a big impression, offering some of the cheapest electricity rates in the Brisbane area and attracting tens of thousands of customers.
This year’s comparison highlights a clear divide in customer satisfaction between electricity providers big and small. Some customers may be reluctant to switch to a smaller electricity provider, but it seems that now might be a good time to reconsider. However, our ratings are not necessarily a reflection of energy prices, so be sure to jump into our electricity comparison tool above to see how they compare on dollars and cents. And read on for more details about these electricity providers and how to find a great deal.
Alinta Energy is one of the biggest electricity and gas suppliers in the southern states of Australia, but is a relatively new addition to SE Queensland. The company was recently acquired by a Hong Kong-based conglomerate company, but remains headquartered in Sydney, with another large office in WA. In terms of energy retail, Alinta Energy keeps things markedly simple with just one electricity market offer in each area that it serves, in addition to an obligatory standard contract. Alinta electricity plans come with significant pay on time discounts off usage charges, with a benefit period of two years. There is no lock in contract and no exit fees. Rates are variable. This approach to electricity supply has obviously gone down very well in the Sunshine State, with Alinta rated five stars for overall customer satisfaction, as well as customer service, bill & cost clarity and environmental sustainability. It also achieved four stars on tools & advice.
Variable rate plan with a 28% pay on time discount.
(Estimated Feb 2018)
Claiming that its online business model helps keep costs low, Click Energy has been a consistently-strong performer in our electricity provider ratings in recent years. Now owned by phone and internet provider Amaysim – now also an energy retailer – Click typically provides one market offer in Queensland, but the product made publically available can vary from time to time. Prospective customers can usually expect a plan with a significant whole bill discount, provided that they pay by direct debit, pay on time and agree to receive bills via email. Click Energy plans come with no contract term or exit fees. However, rates are variable. Click Energy recorded a four-star review for overall customer satisfaction in 2018, in addition to four stars on value for money, bill & cost clarity, customer service and environmental sustainability. For tools & advice it was given three stars.
Variable rate plan with a 15% discount for paying bills on time and by direct debit.
(Estimated Feb 2018)
It may be featuring in our QLD electricity provider ratings for the first time, but Red Energy has been the standout retailer in our NSW comparison for several years now. Owned by renewable energy generation company Snowy Hydro, Red Energy keeps things nice and simple in Queensland, with just two electricity market offers. Both plans come with a modest pay on time discount, no contract term or exit fees. The only difference between them is that one includes 100% accredited GreenPower at an additional cost to usage charges. Red Energy seems to be a retailer that concentrates on competitive rates rather than big discounts and has been known to make commitments to not increase prices for lengthy periods of time. This approach is going down well in Queensland, with customers rating Red Energy four stars for overall satisfaction, in addition to four stars on customer service and bill & cost clarity. It earned three stars for value for money and two stars on environmental sustainability and tools & advice.
Variable rate plan with a 10% pay on time discount.
(Estimated Feb 2018)
Energy giant AGL brings three electricity market offers to the table in SE QLD, with varying discounts and conditions based on personal preference. The biggest discount product is dependent on paying by direct debit, while the second plan with a smaller discount is available for paying bills on time. Discounts apply to usage charges. The third AGL product brings the smallest discount, but this is guaranteed and applies to both usage and supply charges. All plans come with variable rates and 12 month benefit periods. AGL customers can also earn flybuys points, with one point awarded for every $1 spent on energy. Once-off account credit is usually offered when customers sign up online. AGL got three stars for overall customer satisfaction in 2018, with four stars on customer service and environmental sustainability. However, the retailer scored two stars on value for money and tools & advice, with three stars on bill & cost clarity.
EnergyAustralia offers a diverse range of electricity plans in Queensland, including a fixed rate deal that sees prices locked in for two years, as well as two variable rate products. EnergyAustralia says that if the wholesale cost of electricity comes down, it will pass the savings on to customers who sign up to its fixed rate plan. A large pay on time discount is also available. This deal is available on a two-year contract and exit fees apply. EnergyAustralia’s two variable rate products also come with pay on time discounts off electricity usage charges, but there are no exit fees. EnergyAustralia also tends to offer a rebate on your first bill when you sign up online, but this may not always be available. The retailer scored three stars for overall customer satisfaction in our latest Queensland review, with just two stars on value for money and tools & advice. But it did achieve a creditable four stars on customer service and bill & cost clarity. It rated three stars when it comes to environmental sustainability.
Origin offers three variable rate electricity plans in SE QLD, with varying discounts and conditions based on personal preference. The biggest discount is available for customers who commit to paying by direct debit and receiving bills via email, while a smaller pay on time discount is offered to customers on another plan. Both deals come with 12 month benefit periods and no exit fees. Discounts apply to usage charges. Origin’s third plan comes with the smallest discount, but this is guaranteed and applied to both usage and supply charges. Origin also offers a fixed cost electricity product called Predictable Plan. With this plan, customers pay the same amount every month for a year, regardless of their energy consumption. Unique quotes are provided based on a household’s usage history. Origin rated three stars for overall customer satisfaction in 2018, with just two stars on value for money and tools & advice. It also received three stars on environmental sustainability, with four stars on customer service and bill & cost clarity.
All of the electricity providers mentioned above also have standard contracts in Queensland. These are default energy plans that customers will be on if they have never switched retailers, or haven’t taken up another offer in several years.
Our latest research was featured on 9 News Brisbane, which you can watch here.
While our customer ratings feature six of the most prominent electricity providers in QLD, there are several other retailers also competing for your attention. Here is a complete list of residential electricity providers operating in the Brisbane area.
It’s important to understand that, when it comes to electricity, the Sunshine State is split into two very different geographical areas. In 2016, the Queensland Government deregulated the electricity market in the south east of the state, meaning that the energy companies are now free to set their own products, prices and conditions – a move designed to increase competition and put downward pressure on energy prices. Households in Brisbane and the surrounding areas have been able to switch electricity providers since 2007 when ‘Full Retail Competition’ was introduced, but price regulations meant there was little or no cost benefit in doing so. Now the level of competition between providers has increased dramatically and prices vary significantly. Canstar Blue’s electricity database shows that the difference between the cheapest and most expensive electricity plans is around $1,000 a year.
Meanwhile, it’s a case of ‘as you were’ for the rest of Queensland, as the state Government continues to control electricity pricing, with Ergon Energy the only provider for regional areas. To summarise:
2016 was also a significant year for the Queensland electricity market as the state Government decided to merge Queensland’s two electricity distributors – Ergon Energy and Energex. In addition to providing retailer services throughout regional Queensland, Ergon Energy is also the energy distributor, meaning that it is responsible for managing and improving the vast network infrastructure which delivers power to your home. Energex is the electricity distributor for SE QLD. The state-owned companies have been brought together under parent company Energy Queensland, based in Townsville.
With so many electricity providers operating in SE Queensland, households have a wide variety of plans to pick from. The vast majority of market electricity contracts come with variable rates, meaning the retailer can adjust prices at any time. However, some retailers have been known to offer fixed rate deals whereby customers can lock in rates that do not change for two years, offering some protection against price increases. While AGL, Origin and EnergyAustralia dominate the SE QLD market – with 86% market share according to the Australian Energy Regulator’s latest industry report – other providers are starting to make their presence known, with Alinta Energy and Red Energy the two most notable additions to the state in recent times. Meanwhile, Powershop gives its customers the opportunity to save on bills in the long run with the sale of future ‘power packs’ through its online store. The idea is that you can purchase electricity ahead of time at reduced rates. The catch is that you’ll have to log on to the website at least once a month to get the best deals, but for proactive energy-users, it may be worth the effort.
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Whether you’re on a standard or market electricity contract, or have a variable or fixed rate plan, it is hugely important that you understand the different costs that make up your power bills. The two main charges that make up your bill are supply and usage charges:
For households with high energy consumption, usage charges will make up the majority of your overall costs. However, lower usage households should pay particular attention to supply charges as these will likely make up a higher proportion of your overall costs.
Unless you’re interested in a fixed rate or fixed cost electricity plan like those mentioned above, it can be hard to tell one plan from the next. That’s why energy discounts are a widely-used marketing tool for the retailers, with headline offers of up to 25% off usage rates now common. However, it’s very important to understand that the plans with the biggest discounts don’t necessarily result in the lowest prices. This is because the savings can be negated by higher usage or supply charges. Discounts are usually dependent on paying bills on time or by direct debit. Some providers also offer an additional discount if customers receive their bills via email instead of post.
With the average electricity bill in Queensland around $1,700 a year, this will be putting a huge financial pressure on some customers. As such, the Queensland Government provides energy rebates for eligible seniors and pensioners. The ‘Electricity Rebate’ could knock almost $340 off a customer’s annual power bill. Concessions may also be available for Health Care Card holders. Contact your retailer for details.
In addition to a growing number of electricity plans, households in SE QLD can also consider a number of tariff options that may better-suit their usage habits. An electricity tariff relates to the pricing structure of an energy plan. All power plans have a fixed daily charge for the supply of power to the premises, but the rates you pay for electricity usage can vary significantly depending on when you use power. The two primary tariffs in Queensland are known as single rate and time of use.
A single rate tariff means you are charged the same amount for electricity whatever time of day you happen to use it, while time of use tariffs can include multiple prices depending on when you use power. Time of use tariffs come with ‘peak’ and ‘off-peak’ rates – with electricity more expensive during periods of high demand – as well as ‘shoulder’ rates for times in between. While single rate tariffs can be used with any type of energy meter, households will need a smart meter or interval meter to access a time of use tariff.
In Queensland, the following electricity tariffs are available. Remember that prices in SE QLD are set by the retailers, with those in other areas set by the Queensland Competition Authority.
If you have a smart meter, there could be savings to be had with a time of use tariff. However, you first need to understand the different pricing structures to find a deal that works for you. Switching to a time of use tariff and still using lots of electricity when prices are highest in the early evening could prove a costly mistake.
While our customer satisfaction ratings offer an insight into the ‘value for money’ that electricity providers in SE Queensland are deemed to offer (i.e. price versus the quality of service received), Canstar Blue also calculates electricity prices for households to show which providers deliver the cheapest overall costs to customers. ‘Cheapest’ doesn’t automatically mean ‘best’, but for a helpful guide on electricity prices in Brisbane and the surrounding areas, consult our dedicated cost comparison report. You will notice there is a huge difference in costs between the providers we have compared, so it’s a smart move to regularly shop around.
Picking a new electricity provider is not a simple decision, but the good news is that most retailers offer plans with no fixed term agreements – or at least no exit fees – meaning you can easily switch if things don’t work out as you had hoped (i.e. they prove too expensive or their service isn’t up to scratch). Our customer reviews offer a helpful insight into how existing customers rate the biggest operators in SE Queensland – and our electricity database shows where you can find the cheapest rates in the Brisbane area – but ultimately you will only really know an energy company once you have signed up. However, here are some things to consider before doing so, and some questions you may want to ask:
All energy companies are required by law to publish price fact sheets for each of their products, where you will be able to find the answers to these questions and also check the usage and supply charges you will pay. However, these documents are not always the easiest to interpret, so don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and ask for some straight answers to straight questions.
As an energy customer, you have consumer rights, so if you’re not happy with your existing agreement, make sure you contact your retailer and seek a resolution. If you decide to switch providers, you’ll have a 10 day cooling off period to change your mind without incurring any fees. When comparing offers, be sure to check the costs you’ll be charged, and keep our customer ratings in mind. Everyone wants cheap prices, but good service can be just as important. The Queensland electricity market has never been so competitive, so be sure to take advantage of this and find a better deal.
Canstar Blue surveyed 9,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction. Data was collected use Qualtrics’ online sample aggregation from ISO accredited panels. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who live in Queensland, have an electricity account and pay the bills – in this case, 1,548 people.
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 alphabetically. 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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*Costs based on annual usage calculations using statistics from AER for a three person household on the Energex network in Brisbane, January 2018. For more information on annual cost calculations please click here.
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