Weighing up the SA Government concessions energy discount offer - a personal experience.
Compiled for Consumers SA by Executive Committee member, Brian Attwood.
People will be aware that the SA Government is currently putting out discount energy offers for local concession holders. I have checked my own energy supplier's offer with the Government offer and found that my supplier is giving me a better deal, but in doing so I encountered a number of difficulties that made it hard for me - and therefore all consumers - to assess whether I was really being offered a better deal.
NOTE: Some consumers have a combined electricity and gas bill with their retailer. These comments are directed solely at electricity bills. If a consumer has a retailer supplying electricity and gas on the one bill, they should contact Origin Energy on 1300 791 465 for further information on what price they would supply gas and any discount that may apply.
I will go through each stage to help consumers to understand how to make an accurate comparison of the recent Government electricity offer. There are problems with: the terminology used in bills, the discount structure of bills and the different components that make up the total cost of each bill.
Terms used by retailers on the same bill may not be the same - even in different places on the same bill. This is because there are no regulations to control terminology on bills at this time. Examples I have found are :
- Peak or Peak Consumption Block 1, relating to the same charge
- Generation or Peak Consumption Block 2, relating to the same charge
- Controlled Load or Dedicated Circuit Consumption, relating to the same charge.
Other retailers may use different terminology.
The government offer is 18% on both electricity usage and their separate supply charge. This discount is valid at least until June 2019. Some retailers only offer discount on electricity usage. If you are unsure of this, contact your retailer and ask for confirmation of your plan discount structure and check your next bill to see that it is applied.
The separate components of each bill
Electricity usage charges
If you only have one meter its number is listed in the line showing: bill days, meter readings and total usage. If your bill has more than one block of pricing there will be two or more charges shown for the one meter number, recorded as Block 1 and Block 2. Block 2 will have a different charge for the power used above the Block 1 power usage limit.
Off-peak hot water
If you have a Controlled Load or Dedicated Consumption meter (off-peak hot water service) it will have a different number and will be shown under the above information on your bill.
Under all of this information on your bill will be a supply charge, expressed as: a daily charge and the number of days charged.
Solar is not shown on the government offer but if you are entitled to a solar government rebate this should be the same for any retailer. However some retailers offer their own buy-back rebate over and above the government scheme. If you have such an offer on your bill, this needs to be considered when assessing the government offer.
How to use this information to see if the Government offer is better for you.
You now have the information necessary to assess if the Government offer is better than your current retailer’s deal. There are many offers around and you can only see if the Government offer is better for you by making an accurate comparison. There are many ways to deceive the consumer into believing a deal is better, if all components of the bill are not considered.
First, look at Block 1 of your bill.
The Government offer for the first 10.9589 Kwh/day is 33.149 cents with discount. Take your bill and look at the Block 1 and check the Kwh/day charge. See if it is more or less on your bill. Apply the discount your retailer allows to your Kwh/Day charge in Block 1 and compare with the Government 33.149 Kwh/Day figure.
Then look at Block 2 and compare your charge with the Government offer - after applying your retailer discount as above.
Next, check any off-peak charges. If you have a hot water meter it will have a different meter number. The bills are confusing. In my case the hot water meter is listed in one place on my bill as a ‘Controlled load’ and in the next a ‘Dedicated circuit consumption meter’. Retailers at this stage are not compelled to use the same terminology for easy comparison by consumers. Check your own bill charges after applying your retailer discount.
Then check the Supply Charge.
This charge is NOT just the actual cost of providing power to your home as most would expect. It also includes additional charges that vary between retailers. It is a very important cost as it is charged daily.
You should now be able to understand the four major charges that make up your bill and, applying all relevant discounts, you now can assess if your retailer’s offer or the Government offer is best for you.
With this information you can also speak to your retailer and ask for a better deal. They will put you through to a specialist negotiator to discuss your own situation. When contacting your retailer they may suggest a better plan for you and, by understanding your bill, you can properly assess if it really is better for you.
Summary: my experience
You may find, as I did, that it is not easy to see if you are better off.
Taking my last bill as my starting point, I found that the costs of Block 1 and 2 usage were both slightly higher than the Government offer. I calculated the difference in my actual usage at my higher Block 1 and 2 rates and found that I would save $9.23 a quarter under the Government offer.
However, the retailer’s discount on both my energy usage and my supply charge is 20%. In addition, my dedicated circuit consumption (off-peak hot water) charge is $105.58 cheaper than the Government offer and my supply charge is $14.60 cheaper. The bonus solar feed-in rate from my retailer was $52.65 above the government rebate. My total savings over the Government scheme was therefore $172.83.
So I calculated that I would be $163.60 a quarter better off with my current retailer.