Understanding South Australia electricity tariffs

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Electricity prices in South Australia might be eye-watering, but at least they’re easy to understand. For those who aren’t familiar with energy lingo, a ‘tariff’ is the term used to describe how customers are charged for electricity. There are only two electricity tariffs in South Australia, known as Tariff 110 and Tariff 116. In this article, Canstar Blue explains how these tariffs work, as well as what to look out for when comparing energy deals.

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Tariff 110

This is the only general electricity tariff available to South Australian residential customers. Tariff 110, sometimes referred to as ‘domestic’, ‘peak’ or ‘anytime’, is a block rate tariff, meaning the price you pay for electricity depends on how much you actually use. Often, but not always, the price of electricity increases with each block of usage.

The table below illustrates how Tariff 110 works. For the first 11kWh of electricity used per day, the price of electricity is 36c/kWh. For the next 14kWh of usage, the rate increases to 39c/kWh. All electricity usage in excess of these blocks is charged at 41c/kWh.

Tariff 110 Price
First 11kWh usage per day 36c/kWh
Next 14kWh usage per day 39c/kWh
Remaining usage per day 41c/kWh

An example of South Australia electricity usage pricing structure
Some energy providers divide their usage charges up into just two blocks with different prices, but others have as many as five blocks, with costs gradually increasing every time.

Some energy companies, such as AGL, will also apply different rates in winter and summer to reflect increased electricity demand.

How to save money with Tariff 110

Be sure to look at the number and size of usage blocks when comparing retailers in South Australia, because picking the wrong pricing structure for your home could prove incredibly costly.

For context, an average five-person household in Australia uses 18.8kWh of electricity each day. If you think you use less than that, hunt around for low prices on small usage blocks. If your household uses a lot of electricity, then cheaper prices on higher-usage blocks will be preferable.

The nature of pricing blocks like this means the electricity provider that works out cheapest for one type of household could be different to the cheapest option for another household with different usage habits. Put simply, if you don’t use much power, look for the cheapest initial usage blocks you can find. If you use lots of power, pay particular attention to the costs of higher usage blocks.

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Tariff 116

Tariff 116 is a controlled load tariff. Essentially, your storage hot water system or other dedicated appliance is metered separately to the rest of the household. A low Tariff 116 rate applies to electricity usage by the nominated appliances, while the rest of the premise continues to be charged the standard Tariff 110 rates.

The catch with Tariff 116 is that the nominated appliances will only receive electricity supply during off-peak hours, usually between the hours of 11pm and 6am. This limited supply means that Tariff 116 is only suitable for a handful of appliances, such as electricity hot water systems, heat slabs and pool pumps.

A controlled load tariff can be a great way to save money, so long as you’re comfortable with relegating electricity supply to off-peak hours.

Feed-in tariffs

This isn’t an electricity usage tariff like the ones previous mentioned. Instead, a Feed-in Tariff, or FiT, refers to an arrangement in which customers receive credits for unused solar power. When solar panels produce electricity, but no one is around to use it, that electricity is automatically fed into the shared energy grid for someone else to use.

In exchange, your retailer credits you for each kWh of electricity your solar system exported. Most retailers will offer 6.8c for each kWh of solar power you export, though some companies might offer a little more. If you have solar panels, be sure to consider what feed-in tariffs are available when comparing retailers.

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