Moving, dissatisfied with your service or going off-grid? You’ll need to know how to disconnect your power.
If you're on a fixed-term electricity contract and you're looking to switch to another energy provider before that contract is up, there are a few considerations you'll want to keep in mind. First and foremost, you may have to pay an early-exit fee to get out of your current contract, and this fee can vary greatly depending on your energy retailer. Even if you have reached the end of your contract period, you will likely need to pay a disconnection fee, though this is dictated by your energy distributor rather than your energy retailer.
On some energy contracts, moving to another premises is all it takes for them to switch off your power automatically. With others, however, you do need to inform them in advance. It is generally good to give your provider around two weeks’ notice when disconnecting.
You can normally cancel your contract in a variety of different ways, including over the phone, through the mail or with an email. Different energy retailers offer different communication options, so be sure to check out your retailer's website to determine the best way to contact them.
Many energy retailers are making the process of switching even easier these days. By signing up with a new energy retailer, they'll take care of the entire cancellation process for you, communicating with your old energy provider to disconnect your existing service and get your new one up and running. Some retailers even offer special guarantees that your electricity will be connected on a specific day, which is especially handy if you're moving house and want to ensure you have power the moment you arrive.Back to top
Early-exit fees apply to energy customers who have agreed to be a part of a market contract for a set length, but who decide to leave before the period they agreed upon. The period for which the customer is 'locked-in' can vary from six months to sometimes two years for business customers.
Fewer energy retailers charge early-exit fees these days since most energy contracts are offered on a no-lock-in, month-to-month basis. For those that do, the specific fee varies depending on how long you have left on your contract. You can call and speak to your retailer to find out if your contract has early termination fees. You’ll need your latest energy bill to provide your particular details to your retailer.
What are disconnection fees?
Unlike early-exit fees, disconnection fees are charged by your energy distributor, not your energy retailer. Energy distributors are the larger organisations actually supplying your electricity, and when you cancel your service, they charge your energy retailer a disconnection fee that the retailer then passes on to you.
Disconnection fees cover the costs of sending someone to check your energy meter outside of their typical routine. These fees can range from around $7 for a remote disconnection to more than $90 for a disconnection involving a physical meter reading. Fees vary from state to state and also from provider to provider, as you can see in the table below.
Prices below were last updated 6 August 2018
Costs for disconnections (in business hours)
|State||Provider||Cost of disconnection|
|SA||SA Power Networks||$42.13|
|Jemena (remote disconnection)||$10.84|
|Citipower (remote disconnection)||$11.39|
|Powercor (remote disconnection)||$11.44|
|Ausnet (remote disconnection)||$7.14|
|United Energy (remote disconnection)||$11.61|
Disconnection fees may also be applicable if you cease paying your electricity and begin to collect arrears. If this occurs, your energy company cannot just switch off your power. They must first give you two written warnings. After this, they will attempt to contact you to arrange a customised payment plan. If this fails they may take you to court and potentially charge you for fees incurred on their behalf.Back to top
In some cases, yes. Since the disconnection fee is in place to cover the costs of reading your meter, you can potentially avoid it by timing the cancellation of your service with your next meter reading. You can find the date of your next meter reading by looking at your most recent energy bill. Contact your current energy retailer and tell them you wish to cancel your service at the end of your current billing period, and they may be able to waive your disconnection fee completely.
The catch, of course, is that you need to be in a flexible enough situation that you can continue your current energy service until your next bill. If you're moving house, this may not be an option.