Don't get your wires crossed when paying for electricity

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2 September, 2019

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If you have contacted an energy retailer in the past, chances are that the sales person would have offered you either a standing offer or a market offer contract. A market offer contract is set by the energy retailer and is designed to lure you in with competitive discounts. Whereas, the standing offer is a basic ‘bread and butter’ contract with no discounts that can often be more expensive than the market offer contract. In many cases, customers are unknowingly put on a standing offer contract once their market offer contract expires.[1]

In July 2018, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) published the Retail Electricity Price Inquiry Report, which stated that consumers found the electricity retail market confusing and difficult to navigate.1In response to the 2018 Inquiry, the Australian Government introduced The Default Market Offer (DMO). The DMO is an electricity tariff set by the Australian Energy Regulator that acts a price cap for energy retailers. It was introduced to assist customers that were disengaged from the energy market and were subsequently paying higher energy costs on standing offer contracts as a result.[2]

What does this mean for South Australian Households?

In July 2019, customers on standing offer contracts were automatically switched to their retailer’s DMO, prompting a future saving of up to $171 per year for South Australian residential customers.  With the change to DMO prices, it is estimated that the average South Australia household on a single rate tariff (4,000 kWh/year) will pay no more than $1,941 per year for their energy.2

Although the introduction of the DMO will provide some relief for South Australian households, it is important that customers do not become complacent and accept rates and discounts at face value. To ensure they are receiving the best available deal, customers should regularly contact their energy retailer and discuss the following:

·      Are discounts being applied to both supply and usage?

·      Am I eligible to receive the ‘Pay on Time’ discount even if I pay in instalments?

·      Am I receiving the best deal/discount available?

·      Am I locked into a contract that would cost money to get out of?

·      Are SA Government Concessions being applied to my electricity account (if eligible)?

Discounts offered by energy retailers are not the same as SA Government Concessions. If you hold a concession card, or you have recently changed energy retailer or moved house, call Concessions on 1800 307 758 or search for Concessionson the Affordable SA App or website for more information.

For more information regarding gas, electricity and water look under the Utilities section on the Affordable SA App and website.

By Sam

[1]Mullane, J. (2019) ‘Default Market Offer (DMO) Explained’, Canstar Blue, 27 June. Available at: https://www.canstarblue.com.au/electricity/default-energy-pricing/(Accessed 26 August 2019)

[2]Gudova, M. (2019) ‘Energy regulator reveals savings for customers paying most’, Canstar Blue, 30 April. Available at: https://www.canstarblue.com.au/electricity/default-market-offer-savings/(Accessed 26 August 20219)

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‘Consider alternative options before signing up for a Christmas Hamper’ -https://www.affordablesa.com.au/news-articles/dont-let-a-christmas-hamper-put-a-damper-on-your-finances

For more tips on how to plan for Christmas 2020, see the attached link from the Moneysmart website, '12 Money Tips for Christmas’.

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