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Tariffs are prices set on your energy as it's provided to ensure that the providers are making their money back.
There are tariffs that apply to the inherent cost of electricity and delivering that electricity, and there are tariffs that apply to how much of that electricity you use.
On your bill where there is information about "how much energy you used" and "how much it costs", there should be tariff rates and further information.
There may also be information about how your final bill was calculated, which may include "usage and supply charges". These are tariffs.
This is the most common type of tariff in Australia and is also referred to as a flat rate, standard rate, general supply and anytime rate tariff. If you choose a single rate tariff plan, you'll pay the same rate at all times with no peak or off-peak periods.
The rate you're charged tends to be lower than the 'peak' period rates for other tariffs, and is a good choice if you're home a lot during weekday evenings.
Time of use.
With a time of use tariff, the electricity you use will cost different prices at different times of the day. This tariff splits the day up into three different periods, each with their own rate: peak, off-peak, and shoulder.
- During peak times, or when most people use electricity, prices are the highest. Peak times are usually from 3pm to 9pm weekdays.
- During off-peak times, or when fewer people are using electricity, rates are cheaper. Off-peak times are typically overnight.
- During shoulder periods, rates fall somewhere in between peak and off-peak rates. Shoulder rates usually apply at any time that isn't considered peak or off-peak.
Time of use tariffs require a smart meter, but many retailers offer smart meter installation for a one-time fee.
Regardless of Single Rate or Time of Use, you'll see these charges on your bill:
This is also known as "usage" or "consumption" charges and are the amount you are charged per unit of energy, whether kilowatt hours (kWh) for electricity or megajoules (MJ) for gas.
- Single rate tariff = A consumption charge that doesn't change based on time.
- Time of use tariff = A consumption charge that does change based on time.
Daily supply charge:
This charge is there to make sure that each link in the energy chain — from generation to light switch — is kept alive and functioning. Once generated, electricity must be transported and converted many times along an intricate infrastructure of power poles, wires, transformers, substations and more. This infrastructure must be maintained and administered to, which requires customer-based funding at the end of the chain: and that means you. The other names of the tariff also provide clues to its purpose: "service charge", "daily supply charge" or "service availability charge".
These terms aren't as common, but some plans will state the following:
This applies to a single appliance, e.g., a pool, rather than your entire electricity use. Controlled load rates are usually lower than other rates, and are calculated by an energy meter attached to the appliance.
This tariff is applied on top of regular supply charges. It is applied to your maximum usage of energy at a point in time rather than your entire usage averaged out. Demand charges rise when you have many appliances running at once.
A feed-in tariff
This is the rate of money you get from committing electricity to the grid from your solar panel setup. Currently, retailers in Victoria pay roughly 6.2 cents per kilowatt hour, New South Wales between 5.1-8.0 cents, Australian Capital Territory between 6.0–7.5 cents, Queensland 6.0-12 cents, Tasmania 5.55 cents, South Australia 5.3 cents, Northern Territory pays the same feed-in as the consumption rate and Western Australia has a variable rate
Stepped-rate or blocked tariff
These tariffs step up in their cost once you pass a certain threshold of kWh or MJ usage. Depending on the specifics of the deal, the costs on the subsequent usage thresholds may even go down past certain points.Back to top
Gas and electricity tariffs, as well as those for other services such as transport, are regulated by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART). IPART is open to any and all groups to submit recommendations for the pricing of utilities including consumer groups and energy suppliers.
State-based ombudsmen are not responsible for investigating tariff fluctuations or price hikes to energy charges, but they are responsible for ensuring that these tariffs are applied accurately to customers usage.Back to top
- Establishment fee. This is often paid to set up your initial connection.
- Early-exit fee. Some contracts make explicit mention of having no early-exit fees. This a flat fee that must be paid if you leave your contract earlier than agreed upon. These can cost anywhere between $40-$100.
- Late-payment fees. Paying your bill late or having insufficient funds for a direct debit can result in extra charges on your next bill.
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