Engaging with your electricity retailer
Wanting to talk to your retailer but not sure where to start? Level up your knowledge of common terms, and how to compare retailers so you can negotiate a better deal.


Choosing a retailer

You have the right to choose your electricity retailer. And similarly, the option to switch retailers when you are unhappy. While there may be different factors that affect your decision, some common factors for people include:

Retailers will have varying prices and structures that will affect how much you pay each bill.
Retailers may offer different types of discounts and benefits to standout from the competition.
Some retailers are accredited through the GreenPower program to provide renewable energy.
Contract details
Retailers have different contracts as well as terms and conditions that need to be considered.


How to find the best plan for you?

Energy Made Easy is a free Australian Government energy price comparison service for households and small businesses in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory, that can be used to find and compare home and small business electricity and gas plans.


Understanding your plan and pricing

How much you pay for the different rates depends on the contract you have with your electricity retailer. Your contract could be one of two types of offers.

Standing offer

Standing Offer IconAll retailers must offer you a standard contract no higher than the default market offer (DMO) price, set by the Australian Energy Regulator each year. The DMO price also acts as a ‘reference price’. When promoting market offer pricing, retailers must show the price of their offer in comparison to the DMO, to help customers compare.


Market offer

Market Offer iconWhen you take up a special offer or deal, you enter into a market contract with the retailer. These contracts vary between retailers and contain various terms and conditions such as the duration of the contract, discounts and any fees. The retailer sets the price and usually reserves the right to change it at any time. All market contracts have a ten day cooling off period. Within this period, you can cancel the contract by phone or in writing without penalty.


Talking to your retailer

Calling your current retailer and asking if you are on a standing offer or a market offer will open the conversation to if there are any better deals you can access.



Discounts and incentives you can ask about

Retailers offer different types of discounts to standout from the competition and help you save money on your bill. When comparing energy plans or talking to your current retailer here are some discounts to ask about:
Direct debit discount
When you let the retailer take the money for your bill straight from your credit card or bank account
Paperless billing discount
When you get your bill via email not in the mail
Bundling discount
When you get both your gas and electricity from the same retailer
Pay on time discount
When you pay the full amount on time



Check if the discount is off the total bill amount, or just one part of the bill. Also, make sure you check the prices as there may be another plan with no discounts but a lower overall tariff rate.

Benefit periods

You might have a plan that has a certain 'benefit' attached to it for a period of time (this is usually called 'benefit period'). Usually this is a price discount, but it can also be items like movie tickets or loyalty points. After the period ends, you will either pay full price again or no longer enjoy your benefits.

For example, you might sign up to a plan with a 12-month benefit period with a 10% discount. After 12 months, you stay on the same plan but no longer receive the discount. Retailers must tell you that your benefit period is ending at least 20 business days prior, and no earlier than 40 days.




How your rates are determined

In NSW, retailers set their own prices for electricity - the price you will see on your bill. They calculate their prices to ensure that all the costs that go into providing electricity in your home are covered.


Wholesale costs
Energy retailers buy their electricity from the same wholesale electricity market. The cost of this electricity for your retailer is factored into your price.
Transmission and Distribution costs
The network provider in your area (like Ausgrid) will charge your retailer for the costs of transporting electricity, and your retailer factors these costs into your retail prices.
Environmental costs
Retailers have government set obligations to pursue climate change and renewable energy objectives. Retailers may include the cost of these schemes in your bill.
Retail costs and margin
Retailers will factor in their own operating costs, such as metering, billing and customer service. They will also set prices in relation to their profit margin goals.


What do distribution costs cover?

The amount charged by distributors like Ausgrid isn't just a fee for the operation of the network. About a quarter of network revenue is for NSW Government schemes and Transgrid to cover the cost of transmission.

The remainder covers important maintenance costs to ensure the network is safe and reliable. This includes assets like poles and wires, as well as expanding the current grid to accommodate a growing number of households or businesses, and supporting their increased electricity needs.

We also invest in new technologies to make neighbourhoods more energy efficient, with solutions like community batteries.

Our price structure is designed to benefit people who spread their electricity use across the day, to lower peak strain on the grid, so we can put more investment towards improving the network for tomorrow.



What are the different charges that appear on your bill?

Factoring in all of the different rates, retailers will split these charges into different categories depending on your contract, location, usage and in some cases, appliances.

Example pricing based on AGL’s standing offer (including GST). Retail rates from 1 July 2024.

What is a usage charge?

Your bill will typically show one of two usage charge types: flat rate or time-of-use.

 Flat Rate   252kWh   $0.37 / kWh   $93.24 
 Time of Use   252kWh    $102.92 
 Peak  109kWh  $0.59 / kWh   $64.31
 Off Peak  143kWh  $0.27 / kWh  $38.61 

What is a supply charge?

This is a daily fixed charge that applies to the number of days in the billing period. 

Supply   31 days  $1.07 / day   $33.17 

What is a solar feed in?

Feed-in Tariff is a credit you receive on your energy bill for electricity produced by your solar system that is fed into the electricity grid.

 Solar   25kWh  $0.05 / kWh credit   +$1.25 credit

What is a controlled load tariff?

A controlled load is a tariff you pay for some appliances like underfloor heating or electric hot water systems. Controlled load tariffs are generally lower as these appliances operate during off-peak hours, usually overnight. 

 Controlled Load   40kWh   $0.18 / kWh   $7.20 

What is a demand tariff?

A variable charge based on the level of demand in kW your household places on the network during a specified time period or window, as determined by your retailer. 

 Demand   3kW  $0.37 / kW per day  $1.11 per day

Talking to your retailer

Call your current retailer and ask about your current usage, what charges you are receiving and what plan would be best suited to your situation.

  • Questions to ask your retailer
    • How does my current plan compare with the standing offer?
    • Do you have a plan which is better than the standing offer?
    • Do you have a better deal at the moment?
    • Can I save more by paying on time or setting up a direct debit?
    • How else can I access further discounts on my bill?
    • I need help paying my bill. What assistance can you provide?
    • Am I eligible for a government concession or rebate?
    • Am I better off with a flat rate or time of use plan?
    • Are there any cancellation fees included in the contract?



  • Questions to ask your prospective retailer
    • Do you have a plan which is better than the standing offer?
    • Am I better off with a flat rate or time of use plan?
    • What are the setup fees for the plan?
    • Can I save more by paying on time or setting up a direct debit?
    • How else can I access further discounts on my bill?
    • What options will there be if I face financial hardship?
    • Are there any cancellation fees included in the contract?



Additional resources

If you are looking for some extra information about energy, check out these resources.