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Energy retailers struggling with gas supply, more price hikes on the way

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It appears new rules to reduce wholesale gas prices are not serving households as well as expected.

The Albanese government has capped wholesale gas prices at $12 per gigajoule and now retailers are struggling to secure supply contracts.

Upcoming 1 February price hikes of 20% or more won't make things easier.

EnergyAustralia has said Victorian residential gas customers on variable market contracts will see their bills go up by an average 26.7% from February.

Origin Energy and AGL have also flagged that their gas rates will rise by an average 22.1% and 21.4%, respectively, from next month.

Given all 3 major retailers will be increasing prices, it won't be surprising if and when others follow suit.

We already saw the first gas price rise of 2023 happen on 1 January. Find out which states were impacted then.

"This leaves households exposed to higher gas prices and also has potential longer-term implications for the gas retail market," said Gavin Dufty, energy specialist at St Vincent De Paul.

While consumers won't see these impacts immediately, we are particularly concerned about their impact over the colder months when higher prices kick in and gas consumption spikes.

Government intervention to help households using gas

The government is trying to reduce the impact on households by capping wholesale gas prices for new contracts.

The ACCC has threatened multimillion-dollar fines for those that breach the gas price cap.

On 9 December, a media release from the Treasury explained: "We are taking action now because doing nothing is not an option.

"With these policy interventions, Treasury now forecasts that retail gas prices would rise by around 18% this financial year, with most of this increase having already occurred, and by around 4% in 2023-24 – rather than 20% in each year."

However, major gas producers are refusing the finalise new supply contracts until they have more clarity on the government's controversial yet mandatory code of conduct.

Save up where you can

2023's dealing more cost of living blows to households and even thinking about future winter bills might be more stressful than many can handle right now.

We've already seen how much of a struggle it was last winter.

Direct energy bill relief promised by the national cabinet won't arrive until the second quarter of 2023.

Until then, here's what you can do to save up for any bill shock that may come your way in a few months' time:

  • Compare gas plans. This is more important than ever given how quickly prices have been changing. You should do this for both your electricity and gas plans. Check out our best picks for this month if you need a place to start.
  • Find out how much it'll cost to ditch gas appliances in your household. The Climate Council's Switch and Save report will give you an estimate of savings which can vary from $800 in Western Australian to $2,000 in Tasmania.
  • Take advantage of state-based energy rebates and concessions. Head to your state and see which one(s) you might be eligible for.

Amendment as of 8 February 2023: We've removed mentions of retailers such as Kogan Energy no longer offering gas plans.

If you've received notice from your provider that your prices are going up, it's a good time to compare energy plans and potentially save.

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