Understanding the WA energy market

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Western Australia does things a little differently to the rest of the country when it comes to energy. There is a mountain of regulation regarding which retailers can supply gas and electricity, and where it can be serviced. There’s a lot to take in and it can all get pretty confusing. That’s why Canstar Blue has made this guide to help our West Australian readers better understand if they have energy options, and if so, what they are.

Before we get started, there is an important distinction to draw between customers who live within the South West Interconnected System (SWIS) and those outside this area.

What is the South West Interconnected System?

What is the South West Interconnected System?The SWIS is an electricity distribution network operated by Western Power. It covers the most populated area of Western Australia, from the south-west coast to as far north as Kalbarri (pictured). Only customers on this network may have the option to select their electricity retailer.

There are four other energy networks in Western Australia: South Region, North Region, Gascyone/Mid-West and the North West Interconnected System. Most customers on these networks will be restricted in their choice of energy supplier.

Can I choose my electricity retailer?

Western Australian energy customers fall into two categories: contestable and non-contestable. Contestable customers can choose their retailer, while non-contestable customers are supplied by Synergy.

Customers are non-contestable if they are within the South West Interconnected System and use less than 50 megawatt hours (mWh) of electricity each year. As the average household only consumes around 6 mWh per year, virtually all residential electricity customers and the majority of small business customers in the SWIS area are non-contestable.

A business which uses more than 50 mWh of electricity and operates on the SWIS is contestable and will have a choice of nine electricity retailers:

  • AER Retail
  • Amanda Energy
  • Kleenheat
  • A-Star
  • Synergy
  • Alinta Energy
  • Clear Energy
  • Perth Energy
  • Horizon Power

Horizon Power is the only retailer that supplies electricity (both business & residential) in most regional areas outside of the SWIS area.

Western Australia Electricity Prices

Electricity prices are government regulated for households and small businesses, as well as some large businesses. This means a government body sets the price for electricity and not the retailers. The government has upheld a uniform tariff policy for many years, meaning electricity usage and supply charges are the same across the state, regardless of location. While that’s good for regional customers where electricity is more expensive to supply, it pushes up the price of electricity for South-West customers.

The majority of non-contestable customers are connected by Synergy. The retailer offers three residential products: Home Plan, Smart Home Plan and Home Business Plan. The Home Plan has a flat rate tariff, the Smart Home Plan has a time-of-use tariff, and the Home Business Plan has a block rate tariff.

Synergy residential electricity prices

Product Usage rate (Incl GST) Supply charge (Incl GST)
Home Plan 26.4740c/kWh 94.9058c/day
Smart Home Plan Off-peak rate: 13.8697c/kWh

Peak rate: 50.3471c/kWh

Weekend shoulder: 26.3681 c/kWh

Weekday shoulder: 26.3681 c/kWh

94.9058c/day
Home Business Plan First 20 kWh per day: 29.3544c/kWh

Next 1,630kWh per day: 33.6081c/kWh

Over 1,650kWh per day: 30.3260c/kWh

53.8864c/day

Prices sourced from Synergy website. Correct at time of publication.

Keep in mind that you’ll need a smart meter to sign up to Synergy’s Smart Home Plan and Home Business Plan. Businesses customers will need to contact Synergy directly to receive a quoted price. You can learn more about Synegry electricity tariffs and find the right option for your household here.

Horizon Power is the only choice of electricity retailer for the majority of Western Australians who live outside the south west area. Horizon Power has two residential products:

  • A2 – Standard residential
  • K2 – Part residential & part business

Horizon Power residential electricity prices

Product Usage rate (Incl GST) Supply charge (Incl GST)
A2 – Standard residential 26.4740c/kWh 94.9058c/day
K2 – Part residential & part business First 20 kWh per day: 29.3544c/kWh

Next 1,630kWh per day: 33.6081c/kWh

Over 1,650kWh per day: 30.3260c/kWh

53.8864c/day

Prices sourced from Horizon Power website. Correct at time of publication.

Attentive readers will notice that Synergy and Horizon Power rates are the same. Again, that’s because Western Australian electricity prices are set by the government. The only difference between the two energy companies is that residential customers outside the SWIS network won’t have access to a time-of-use tariff (Smart Home Plan).

Horizon Power offers seven business products with various rates and tariffs depending on the size and type of business. As an example, a charitable organisation is charged lower rates than a small business, while a small business is charged lower rates than a large business. You can see Horizon Power’s business products on its website.

Can I choose my gas retailer?

Can I choose my gas retailer?The Western Australian retail gas market is fully contestable, meaning natural gas retailers are free to compete in an open gas market. The price of gas is, however, regulated in some of the most populated areas of Western Australia, including Geraldton and surrounding areas, Carnamah, Albany, and the Perth metropolitan area extending north to Gingin and south to Busselton. These are indicated by the orange areas on the map pictured to the right.

Gas prices are not regulated outside these areas, meaning gas retailers are free to set their own usage rate. In addition to regulated gas rates, retailers may charge additional fees which aren’t regulated by the government.

WA natural gas residential retailers

There are a plenty of natural gas retailers for businesses, however, only four retailers currently supply gas to homes. These are:

These gas companies are all licensed to retail gas in the Perth metropolitan area. Alinta Energy also services the Kalgoorie-Boulder and Albany areas. Simply Energy and Perth Energy are also now authorised to sell gas in the Perth area, but have not launched their services yet.

Western Australia Gas Prices

The state government has a residential gas price cap for South-West WA. While all gas companies set their prices near this price cap, each retailer provides value offers through discounts to customers who pay their bill on time or pay using direct debit.

Customers in Albany and Kalgoorie-Boulder are charged for their gas on a flat rate tariff, meaning the same gas usage rate is charged regardless of the time or amount used. Coastal customers are on a block rate tariff, which means you pay a different rate for gas depending on how much is used.

Perth (Coastal Metropolitan) gas rates

Retailer Usage rate Supply charge Discount
AGL The first 12 MJ per day: 14.685 c/MJ

Over 12 MJ per day: 13.244 c/MJ

21.285c/day 35%
Kleenheat The first 12 MJ per day: 14.70 c/MJ

Over 12 MJ per day: 13.26 c/MJ

21.29c/day 25%
Alinta The first 12 MJ per day: 14.70 c/MJ

Over 12 MJ per day: 13.26 c/MJ

21.29c/day 25%
Origin The first 12 MJ per day: 14.696 c/MJ

Over 12 MJ per day: 13.255 c/MJ

21.285c/day 35%

Albany Gas Rates

Retailer Usage rate Supply charge
Alinta 16.71c/day 11.48c/day

Kalgoorie-Boulder Gas Rates

Retailer Usage rate Supply charge
Alinta 16.71c/day 11.48c/day

What’s next for WA?

With AGL and Origin coming to WA in 2017, the gas market has certainly begun to heat up. We have already seen this increased competition create a price war that’s led to incumbent gas retailers upping their game to provide better value for customers. But what about electricity? As it stands, there are no official plans to deregulate electricity prices or competition. With that said, there’s a hot rumor that we could see it soon. The current WA government is a major advocate for deregulation, and AGL and Origin’s entry into the gas market is regarded as a sign that they’re gearing up for electricity competition in WA. This might just be speculation at this point, but the signs all point toward electricity deregulation within the next few years

For now, if you’re a gas customer, then you need to take advantage of the state’s new-found competition. To find the best deal on WA gas, get started with Canstar Blue’s report on Western Australian gas suppliers via the link below.

Compare WA Gas Suppliers

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