What do new rules mean for your power bill?

Peter Terlato 1 March 2017 NEWS

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Changing consumption patterns at times of high demand can cut your costs.

Residents from a number of states and territories across Australia are set to benefit financially from the revised tariff structure arrangements approved by the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) this week.

The AER approved the revised Tariff Structure Statements (TSS) for a number of energy providers throughout New South Wales (Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy and Essential Energy), Queensland (Energex and Ergon Energy), South Australia (SA Power Networks) and the ACT (ActewAGL).

These new tariffs, together with smart meter reforms commencing December 2017, will give retailers the opportunity to develop and offer customers new ways to better manage their household and business energy bills, including rewarding customers for shifting their electricity consumption to off-peak periods.

"This will help reduce the need for future network upgrades and replacement, lowering prices for all customers in the long run," AER board member Jim Cox said.

However, it is ultimately up to retailers to decide how and if they pass on these benefits to consumers.

Electricity bills are made up of three main components: wholesale electricity costs, network (transmission and distribution) charges and retailer charges. The value of distribution charges differs state to state.

In New South Wales these costs make up around 40% of a customer's electricity bill. In Queensland and South Australia it's proportionately lower (35%) and accounts for a little less in the ACT (30%).

Queensland's uniform tariff policy means Ergon Energy residential and small-medium business customers in rural and regional areas will continue to pay the same excise as those in south-east Queensland.

Peak and off-peak tariffs will apply to South Australian customers on an "opt-in" basis. Small businesses requiring a higher level of electricity supply can apply for demand-based tariffs on an "opt-out" basis.

Cox said that if peak demand in South Australia can be reduced, it's possible to achieve long term gains through a lower network investment and improved electricity and gas prices for consumers.

In the nation's capital, over 25,000 residential customers already employ time-of-use tariffs, introduced by ActewAGL as the default network tariff for new customers from October 2010. More than half of the electricity consumed by residents, businesses and government in the ACT is via peak and off-peak rates.

Australian households are becoming more energy efficient, according to the latest government figures.

Despite a drop in household energy consumption, the Australian Energy Market Commission expects electricity bills to rise in every state, aside from Queensland and Tasmania, over the next two years.

Australia's first Tesla Powerwall owners have reduced their costs by more than $2,100 in the past 12 months, saving 92.2% on their annual energy bill and now pay just 50 cents per day to power their home.

Save on energy costs by comparing a range of providers and learning how to properly read your bill.

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