Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions in Energy

Energy

Electricity - How does the removal of retail electricity price regulation affect me?

The NSW Government has provided information, including a list of frequently asked questions (opens in a new window)  , on the removal of retail electricity price regulation

Electricity - I'm not happy about electricity price increases. What can I do?

WAYS TO SAVE MONEY

CONSIDER MAKING SOME CHANGES

Swimming pools are the biggest single contributor to high energy bills, adding an average of $620 or more than 33% to the household energy bill.

Reducing the operating times for pumps and filters can save energy and money, and simply changing operating times can save you money if you have a time of use meter or if you can connect your pump and filter to an off peak electricity supply.

Second fridges can add an average of $300 to annual electricity bills, closely followed by spas.

Using your clothes dryer once a week will cost you $77 over a year. If you use it everyday that's $539.

GET SOME HELP

There is a plenty of advice and assistance to help you reduce energy consumption and save money.

REDUCE ENERGY CONSUMPTION

 HELP PAYING BILLS

  • Department of Trade & Investment's Energy Assistance Guide
  • See your energy retailer for payment plans and options.

GETTING THE BEST PRICE

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) maintains Energy Made Easy a website to compare different energy offers

APPLIANCE EFFICIENCY

Energy Rating Website E3 Equipment Energy Efficiency

 

Electricity - Can I complain to someone about prices?

If you have a problem or dispute with your retailer about billing or another matter, you can contact EWON (opens in a new window)  for help in resolving your dispute. However, EWON has no role or authority in setting prices. This means it is not able to investigate complaints about price increases. But it can review whether the relevant charges and prices have been correctly applied to your account.

Electricity - Why is there a service availability charge? Is this the network charge?

Many of the costs incurred in supplying small retail customers are fixed. This means that they do not vary with the amount of electricity used by the customer. For example, these include the costs of:

  • operating a 24-hour-a-day control centre
  • providing an emergency and technical response team
  • operating billing and accounting systems
  • providing access to the network infrastructure.

The service availability charge or “fixed component” on your electricity bill recovers these fixed costs. This charge ensures that all customers make a reasonable contribution to the overall cost of making the supply of electricity available.

The service availability charge is not the same as network charges. The network charges include both fixed and variable costs components, so they are incorporated into the service availability charge and the consumption charges you pay your retailer.

Electricity - Where can I find information about historical prices?

Each regulated suppliers’ historical prices are available below:

 EnergyAustralia   Integral Energy  Country Energy
2013              2013  2013
2012   2012  2012
2011   2011  2011
2010  2010  2010
2009  2009  2009
2008  2008  2008
2007  2007  2007
2006  2006  2006
2005  2005  
2004  2004  
2003  2003  
2002  2002  
   2001  

A time series of regulated retail electricity prices in NSW is also provided here. These prices are a weighted average across NSW.  The link contains a price index from 1992/93, and indicative customer bills based on regulated prices from 1999/00.

 

Electricity - What are the maximum prices and charges for electricity in residential parks in NSW?
Electricity - Are there any government assistance measures available to help households with their energy costs?

HAVING TROUBLE PAYING YOUR BILL

If you are having trouble paying your gas or electricity bill, the first step is to speak to your energy company. 

All energy retailers in NSW have programs to help customers with financial difficulties to pay their energy bills. 

Your energy company's phone number will be on your bill.

ENERGY ACCOUNTS PAYMENT ASSISTANCE SCHEME (EAPA)

You may also be eligible for financial help through the NSW Government's Energy Accounts Payment Assistance Scheme (EAPA).  This scheme funds the provision of EAPA vouchers to people having trouble paying their energy bills as the result of an emergency or crisis situation.  The vouchers are provided to participating community welfare organisations - including St Vincent de Paul, the Salvation Army, Anglicare, the Smith Family, Lifeline and some Indigenous, migrant, neighbourhood and community centres.  The $30 vouchers can only be used to pay natural gas or electricity bills.  Customers need to apply to one of these organisations which will consider their circumstances and, if appropriate, provide assistance. The organisation assesses the customer's situation and determines each case based on individual circumstances.

Here is further information on the EAPA scheme (including a list of participating community welfare organisations), or phone the Energy Information Line on 1300 136 888.

PAYMENT PLANS

Energy retailers must develop, implement and publish detailed Customer Hardship Charters. 

The Charters should include flexible payment options and appropriate financial counselling services.

If you are having trouble paying your bill, contact your energy retailer and ask them about the most suitable payment plan option for your circumstances.

Here is information on ways to save money

Can you provide more details about the Energy Savings Scheme?

See the answers to questions that are asked often about the Energy Savings Scheme.

Gas - Who is my regulated supplier?

There are 3 regulated suppliers (or standard retailers) of gas in NSW:

  • AGL supplies Sydney, Wollongong, Newcastle, Dubbo, Orange, Parkes, and parts of the Riverina.
  • ActewAGL supplies the regions surrounding the ACT and south east NSW (including Young, Goulburn, Shoalhaven and Yass).
  • Origin Energy (Wagga Wagga) supplies the south western regions of NSW (including Wagga Wagga and Gundagai) and inland cities (such as Tamworth).
  • Origin Energy (Albury) supplies the areas on the NSW and Victorian border (including Albury and the Murray Valley Towns).

These are the ‘standard retailers’, which means they are obliged to supply gas to all small customers in their supply area who haven’t entered into a market contract. They must charge these customers the regulated retail prices.

However, like other retailers, they can also supply gas under market contracts to customers who choose to enter into one of these contracts with them. They charge these customers unregulated prices.

Gas - What are the regulated retail gas prices in my area?
Gas - How does IPART set regulated gas prices?

IPART sets gas prices for residential and small business customers who have not entered into a market contract with a licensed retailer. The IPART gas review process is explained here.

Information on why gas costs what is does is available here

Gas - Why have prices increased on 1 July 2014?

The primary reason that regulated gas prices increased on 1 July 2014 is due to rising wholesale gas prices.  For the first time gas will be exported from eastern Australia.  Gas reserves previously contracted to NSW are depleting or being directed to Queensland for export.  This means increasingly wholesale gas prices will be set on an international basis.

For more information about the changes in regulated gas prices from 1 July 2014, see our  fact sheet

Gas - I’m not happy about the price increases. What can I do?

 Here is information on ways to save money.

Gas - Can I complain to someone about prices? Can IPART do something?

IPART sets gas prices for residential and small business customers who have not entered into a market contract with a licensed retailer.

Here the  IPART gas review process explained.

Gas retail prices need to reflect the costs of supplying gas to small retail customers, and when these costs go up, prices must also go up.

We conduct our reviews through transparent and consultative processes.  We undertake extensive analysis and consultation.  We also seek expert advice.  We are confident that the estimated costs of supplying gas are reasonable and we set prices that will recover these costs.

If you have a problem or dispute with your retailer about billing or another matter, you can contact EWON (opens in a new window)  for help in resolving your dispute. However, EWON has no role or authority in setting prices. This means it is not able to investigate complaints about price increases. But it can review whether the relevant charges and prices have been correctly applied to your account.

Gas - What are the different types of regulated prices?

Each standard retailer has 2 types of charges:

  • A ‘supply’ or ‘access’ charge, which applies to the number of days you were connected to the gas supply via the retailer during the billing period. This charge is generally expressed as cents per day.
  • ‘Consumption’ or ‘usage’ charges, which apply to the gas you consumed during the billing period, and are generally expressed as cents per Mega Joule (MJ).
Gas - Why are the regulated prices different for each area?

IPART sets the regulated prices for each regulated retailer so they reflect the costs it incurs in supplying gas to its customers on regulated contracts. These prices differ because each regulated supplier:

  • Incurs different distribution network costs. Each gas retailer has to pay the companies that own and operate the gas distribution networks in NSW for using these networks to deliver gas to your property. To recover these costs, the regulated retail prices include distribution network charges. Because the regulated suppliers each use a different gas distribution network, their network costs are different, and the network charges included in their regulated retail prices are also different.
  • May incur different retail costs. For example, they may incur different wholesale gas costs and/or different costs to run the retail business.
Gas - How do I know if I am on a regulated contract or a market (or negotiated) contract?

You may be on a regulated contract if:

  • You live in Sydney, Wollongong, Newcastle, Dubbo, Orange, Parkes or the Riverina and you are supplied by AGL.
  • You live in the NSW regions surrounding the ACT and south east NSW (including Young, Goulburn, Shoalhaven and Yass) and you are supplied by ActewAGL.
  • You live in a south western region of NSW (including Wagga Wagga and Gundagai) or an inland city (such as Tamworth) and you are supplied by Origin Energy.
  • You live in an area on the NSW and Victorian border (including Albury and the Murray Valley Towns) and you are supplied by Origin Energy.

 

You are likely to be on a market contract if:

  • the above does not apply to you
  • you are supplied gas by any other retailer
  • there are any discount items on your bill
  • you have been door-knocked and asked to change retailer any time since 2002 and have taken up their offer.

 

If you are still not sure, contact your retailer and ask what kind of contract you are on.

Note that if you are on a market contract, you can switch back to your regulated supplier and a regulated contract at any time. Simply call the regulated supplier in your area.  However, if you switch before the end of your market contract term, you may have to pay an exit fee.  Check the terms and conditions with your current retailer.

Gas - Who are the licenced retailers in NSW?

For a list of retailers licenced to supply gas in NSW, please see the Australian Energy Regulator’s (AER) Public Register of Authorised Retailers (opens in a new window)  , or email the AER at  AERInquiry@aer.gov.au for further information.

Gas - Why is there a supply charge or access charge? Is this the network charge?

Many of the costs incurred in supplying customers on regulated prices are fixed.  This means that they do not vary with the amount of gas the customer uses.  For example, the fixed costs include those of:

  • providing access to network infrastructure
  • operating a 24-hour-a-day control centre
  • providing an emergency and technical response team
  • operating billing and accounting systems.

The supply or access charge on your gas bill recovers some of these fixed costs. This charge ensures that all customers make a reasonable contribution to the overall cost of making the supply of gas available.

The supply or access charge is not the same as distribution network charges. Distribution network charges generally include both fixed and variable cost components, so they are incorporated into the supply charge and the consumption charges you pay your retailer.

Gas - Why have my regulated retail prices gone up by more than the percentage increase announced by IPART?

IPART does not set a specific price for each regulated retail price on offer in NSW – we have agreed the average amount (in percentage terms) by which each regulated supplier can increase the retail component of its regulated prices.  The regulated suppler must then set its individual prices so that, on average, they do not increase by more than the amount we agreed. 

This form of regulation means that a regulated supplier can increase one regulated price by more than the average amount, as long as it increases another by less than the average.  However, it is most likely to set each price so that it reflects the underlying costs of supplying the customers on that price.  This is because, in the competitive market for retail gas, it is in the retailer’s interests to do this. For example, if it were to set one price well above the costs of supply, its competitors would be able to target customers on that price by offering them a better deal, and it would likely lose these customers. 

The form of regulation also means that a regulated supplier can increase one component of a regulated price by more than the average amount, as long as it increases another component by less that this amount.  For example, it may increase the supply charge by more than the average amount, but increase the consumption charges by less than this amount.  If you are a small gas user, this might mean that your bill increases by more than the average percentage increase announced by IPART. 

In addition, the amount you are billed for gas depends on how much gas you use, as well as the price you are charged.  Therefore, if you have used more gas than you did in the same period the previous year, your bill might increase by more than the average percentage increase in prices.

Gas - Where can i get a time series of regulated retail gas prices for a typical residential customer in NSW?

A time series of regulated retail gas prices for a typical residential customer in NSW is provided.   The link contains a price index and indicative customer bills for a typical AGL residential customer consuming MJ 20,000 per year.

Gas - Wouldn't it be fairer if all customers paid the same for gas regardless of where they live?

The cost of supplying gas to your home depends on where you live.  For example, it costs less if you live in a city (where there are a large number of customers in a small area) than if you live in a rural area (where there few customers in a large area).  If everyone paid the same price, then some people would have to pay more than it costs to supply them, and so would be subsidising the costs of other people.

Gas - When can my gas retailer change the prices I pay?

Under the Voluntary Pricing Arrangements (VPAs) agreed between IPART and the regulated suppliers, regulated retail gas prices generally change on 1 July in each year for the duration of the agreement (2014 to 2016). 

For customers on market contracts, your contract will specify how and when your retailer can change your price.

Solar - Where can I find information about PV systems and the Solar Bonus Scheme?

Here is general information on solar PV units.

The NSW Department of Trade & Investment, Regional Infrastructure & Services has developed some frequently asked questions about solar PV systems and the Solar Bonus Scheme. This includes information about Solar Bonus Scheme eligibility, tariff payments and metering arrangements. Here are the  frequently asked questions (opens in a new window)  .

IPART also has a fact sheet which explains the characteristics of PV systems in NSW and some key messages for those thinking of installing a system.

Here is further information on solar feed-in tariffs.

Solar - Where can I find information on feed-in tariffs being offered by retailers?

The AER's Energy Made Easy (opens in a new window)  website provides information on feed-in tariffs available in your area.

For general information about solar feed-in tariffs.

IPART also has a fact sheet which explains the characteristics of PV systems in NSW and some key messages for those thinking of installing a system.

Solar - Why doesn't my electricity retailer pay me the full retail price (ie: '1 for 1') for electricity I export to the grid from my solar PV system?

Retailers would lose money if they were required to offer a feed-in tariff that is equal to the retail price. Retailers would then receive the retail price for the electricity they sell that is generated by PV customers, but they would incur substantial cost in doing so. Once the PV energy passes through the customer’s meter to the grid and on to other customers, retailers will incur immediate costs for use of the network and for green schemes. The value of electricity generated by PV units is considerably less than the retail price. A 1 for 1 feed-in tariff would require the retailers to subsidise these customers. The cost of a subsidy would need to be recovered either through higher electricity prices or the NSW budget.

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