Victorian energy market now easier to understand for customers

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Comparing energy deals in Victoria is now easier for customers since industry reforms were introduced in 2019, according to the state’s regulator.

The Essential Services Commission (ESC) recently announced in a report that changes to the energy rules have helped simplify the Victorian retail market.

Acting Executive Director of Energy at the ESC, Dean Wickenton, said the market has become less confusing for consumers to navigate.

“We are seeing more transparency in the marketing of energy deals with only seven per cent of market offers with conditional discounts compared to one in three just a year ago,” he said.

“We’re now seeing fewer big headline discounts with no standard comparator that made it hard for customers to work out if they were getting a good deal.”

Conditional discounts are offered by some providers that reward customers for satisfying the conditions of a discount, such as paying on time or paying by direct debit. Prior to the Victorian Default Offer (VDO) being introduced in July 2019, discounts were sometimes used as a way of concealing higher electricity rates, but now all retailers must advertise each product showing how it compares to the VDO.

While the ESC has reported consumer confidence is getting better, it’s not all good news for Victorians, as many continue struggling to pay their bills.

“There have been just over 2,000 residential customers disconnected in 2021 and the level of arrears has increased for both electricity and gas,” said Mr Wickenton. “On Friday, the commission extended temporary rules introduced in October 2020 that require energy companies to provide additional help beyond the existing safety net framework following a sharp rise in disconnections in March.”

According to the ESC, energy providers were penalised nearly $1 million for incorrectly charging customers or failing to provide best price messaging on bills. Victorians experiencing financial hardship are urged to contact their provider to see which options are available.

Is it easy to find a good energy deal?

Although the VDO has helped consumers better understand the market, it’s still quite confusing, especially for Victorians who don’t engage or compare electricity plans on a regular basis, said Canstar Blue Editor-in-Chief, Simon Downes.

“For the most part, customers by now should be able to spot a good energy deal from a bad one, and this is largely thanks to the VDO which acts as a reference point,” he said.

“With electricity plans now showing prices that compare to the VDO, bill-payers can read between the lines of tricky marketing often used by power companies. Although the market is heading in the right direction, Victoria isn’t quite out of the woods just yet, and more needs to be done to ensure everyone is on the same page. That’s why it’s important to check all details of an energy plan before signing up. Large headlining discounts and flashy giveaways may look appealing on paper, but these features mean nothing if they’re covering inflated rates or poor customer service.”

Compare Energy Prices in VIC

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†. 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 and to see other products in our database that may be available. 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. The next three tabs feature products exclusively from AGL, EnergyAustralia and Origin.

Here are the AGL Energy plans on our database for Victoria. These are products from a referral partner†. 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 and to see other products in our database that may be available. 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 the EnergyAustralia plans on our database for Victoria. These are products from a referral partner†. 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 and to see other products in our database that may be available. 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 the Origin Energy plans on our database for Victoria. These are products from a referral partner†. These costs are based on the Citipower energy 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 and to see other products in our database that may be available. 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.

Image credit: Melissaberry/Shutterstock.com

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