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Changes in legislation

New reforms in some states of australia may make it easier to switch providers  16000646 800524936 0 0 14085541 300

If you live in Tasmania, New South Wales or Queensland you might be interested to know that these states have altered their legislation, making it easier than ever before to switch energy suppliers.

Here is a rundown on each state and what has changed.

Tasmania

Those living in this state will benefit from a reform that aims to put pressure on retailers to decrease the price of electricity and gas in the short, medium and long term by increasing competition.

The Tasmanian government said they are committed to managing the industry so that gas and electricity prices remain affordable for the consumer and supplies continue to be reliable.

Reforms also aim to reduce the risks to taxpayers and promote sustainable state-owned businesses that are more efficient and focussed.

Consumers in this state will have more choice and security and will also be able to benefit from the creation of additional renewable energy assets to be owned by the local community.

These changes were made in response to the challenges created by the external market. Aurora Energy's retail customer base was going to be sold to facilitate competition in the sector, but the government received advice saying their objectives could not be delivered at that time and they would not be able to achieve a fair and reasonable price for the asset.

From July 1, 2014 full retail competition will be introduced and retailers other than Aurora Energy will be able to sell to all residential and business customers.

This could affect your power decisions in future but will make it easier to switch over to a different provider so that you may see lower electricity prices on your bills.

Currently in Tasmania, business customers who use over 50 megawatt hours of electricity per year have the freedom to choose their electricity retailer.

New South Wales

The reforms in New South Wales will take a different form, with the three electricity networks being merged into one.

Currently, the three networks work independently, and are responsible for the distribution of electricity to residential properties as well as to business. These are being merged into one distribution network as the government believes this will reduce waste and duplication.

For consumers, this means potential savings on your electricity prices. The government has forecast a saving of $2 billion over the next four years, which they say will help fund electricity rebates for low income households.

These reforms will also decrease electricity prices in future, according to the Department of Energy, which says over half of household electricity bills are the result of network costs.

Therefore, streamlining this process will have a positive effect on bills and overhead costs. Until the process is complete, business will continue as per usual.

Queensland

To combat the increasingly high cost charged by electricity suppliers in this state, the Interdepartmental Committee on Electricity Sector Reform (IDC) is working on a 30 year strategy plan to navigate the challenges that are predicted to hit the sector in future.

According to an IDC report to the government, electricity prices in Queensland in 2013 have doubled in the past seven years, leaving households and businesses struggling to pay their bills.

In 2012 the government set up the IDC and asked them to investigate to make sure electricity was delivered in a cost-effective way and that the industry remains sustainable, viable and competitive.

Later in 2014 they will be releasing their 30 year strategy which will provide recommendations for the government to take into consideration.

One recommendation is already underway, and that is to reduce network costs.

Currently, New South Wales' three networks work independently, and are responsible for the distribution of electricity to residential properties as well as to business.

These are being merged into one distribution network as the government believes this will reduce waste and duplication.

For consumers, this means potential savings on your electricity prices. The government has forecast a saving of $2 billion over the next four years, which it says will help fund electricity rebates for low income households.

These reforms will also decrease electricity prices in future, according to the Department of Energy who say over half of household electricity bills are the result of network costs.

Another recommendation that has been accepted in the government's response to the IDC strategy is the commitment to increasing retail competition and to removing the existing price controls in South East Queensland by as early as 2015.

This will stimulate the suppliers currently in the market to make investments and provide competition for consumers in the area.

By increasing competition, consumers in the state will benefit from the follow on effect of being able to switch suppliers more easily, and electricity prices may also decrease.

The IDC also recommended that suppliers improve consumer engagement, which will result in customers benefitting from discounts and other tailored products in what will become a more competitive market.

However, it is always worth doing an electricity comparison to see if you are getting the best deal for your individual needs.

Posted by Liam Tunney.