FAQs

1. What is full retail competition?

Competition in the retail electricity market has been progressively introduced on mainland Tasmania since 2006.

Commencing on 1 July 2014, 'full retail competition' means that all residential and business customers on mainland Tasmania are able to choose their electricity retailer, regardless of their annual electricity consumption.

Prior to 1 July 2014, Tasmanian business customers who used more than 50 megawatt hours of electricity per annum were able to contract with alternative retailers for their electricity supply. However, the majority of customers in Tasmania use less than this amount of electricity. 

For further information, see Fact Sheet 1, Full Retail Competition Explained.

2. How do I change retailers?

To change retailers, you need to contact a new retailer who will then guide you through the transfer without any interruption to your electricity supply.

If you are planning to change retailers before the end of your contract with your current retailer, it is important to check whether termination fees exist under that contract.

3. I am now a small customer, what do I need to do?

As a small customer, from 1 July 2014, you are not required to do anything unless you wish to make arrangements for electricity supply with an alternative retailer or negotiate a market retail contract with Aurora ​Energy. If you choose to do nothing, you will continue to be supplied by Aurora under a standard retail contract at prices that are set by the Tasmanian Economic Regulator.

4. What choices do I have under full retail competition? What contract options are available to me?

Small Customers:

Under full retail competition, small customers have a choice of:

  • doing nothing – staying with Aurora Energy under a standard retail contract, at regulated prices approved by the Tasmanian Economic Regulator;
  • staying with Aurora and negotiating a market retail contract; or
  • negotiating a market retail contract with another authorised retailer.

If you enter into a market retail contract with Aurora, you have the option of changing to a standard retail contract with Aurora, at regulated prices. It is important to note that, while you can terminate a market contract early, the retailer may charge you a fee for doing so.

If you enter into a market retail contract with another authorised retailer and wish to revert to a standard retail contract, you may do so by either

  • entering into a standard retail contract with that alternate retailer at its standing offer prices; or
  • entering into a standard retail contract with Aurora Energy at the regulated prices approved by the Tasmanian Economic Regulator.

Again, while you can terminate a market contract early, the retailer may charge you a fee for doing so. Make sure you know what the penalties are before you enter into the contract.

The Australian Energy Regulator provides a free price comparison website that allows customers to easily compare contract prices between electricity retailers. More information can be found at www.energymadeeasy.gov.au.

Large Customers:

Under full retail competition, large customers have a choice of:

  • entering into a negotiated market retail contract with any authorised retailer; or
  • purchasing from the electricity wholesale market (see Fact Sheet 2, Purchasing electricity from the wholesale marketplace).

The Australian Energy Regulator provides a free price comparison website that allows customers to easily compare contract prices between electricity retailers. More information can be found at www.energymadeeasy.gov.au.

5. Under full retail competition, can I keep purchasing electricity at the regulated price if I want to?

Only if you are a small customer. Aurora Energy (as the regulated offer retailer) is required to make an offer to a small customer under its standard retail contract at standing offer prices which are approved by the Tasmanian Economic Regulator.

6. Who are small electricity customers?

Small electricity customers are defined as all residential customers on mainland Tasmania as well as those small business customers who use less than 150 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity per year.

7. What is a standard retail contract?

A standard retail contract is a contract available to all small customers, the terms and conditions of which are standard and set out under the National Energy Retail Law. All authorised retailers are required to have a standard retail contract available.

A retailer must offer its standard retail contract at its 'standing offer' prices to customers for which it is the 'designated retailer'. The retailer's standing offer prices are determined by that retailer.

In Tasmania, every small customer is also assigned a 'Regulated Offer Retailer' that is required to make an offer to supply electricity to that customer under its standard retail contract at regulated prices, which are by the Tasmanian Economic Regulator. The Regulated Offer Retailer for all small customers on mainland Tasmania is Aurora Energy. The price of the contract at regulated prices may be varied over time as and approved by the Tasmanian Economic Regulator.

A standard retail contract is ongoing.

The Australian Energy Regulator provides a free price comparison website that allows customers to easily compare contract prices between electricity retailers. More information can be found at www.energymadeeasy.gov.au.

8. What is a market retail contract?

Retailers generally have available a number of what are called 'market retail contracts'. These kinds of contracts allow the retailer and the customer the flexibility to voluntarily enter into arrangements outside the standard retail contract arrangements. The prices, conditions and duration of market contracts are set by the retailer that is offering them, but in order to protect small customers retailers are still required to comply with certain minimum standard requirements under the National Energy Retail Law.

Market retail contracts will typically be offered on a fixed term basis – this could be for 12 months, 2 years or longer. You can terminate a market contract early but the retailer may charge you a fee for doing so. Make sure you know what the penalties are before you enter into the contract.

The Australian Energy Regulator provides a free price comparison website that allows customers to easily compare contract prices between electricity retailers. More information can be found at www.energymadeeasy.gov.au.

9. What happens to my electricity concession?

All previous electricity concessions have been retained and are available to eligible customers regardless of their retailer or the type of contract they have with that retailer. If you change retailers, you will not need to re-apply to your new retailer to receive your concession, it will continue automatically.

More information on concessions can be found on the Tasmanian Government's Concessions webpage.

10. I'm a life support customer – will anything change for me?

Life support customers are provided with special protections under National Energy Retail Law, which include specific protections against disconnection. These protections are unaffected by Tasmania's move to full retail competition.

11. What will happen to Aurora Pay As You Go?

Aurora Pay As You Go continues as an unregulated product.

As pre-payment contracts such as Pay As You Go are market contracts, other retailers may also offer similar products. Contact your chosen retailer for further information about the pre-payment products they offer.

12. Are there minimum standards that authorised retailers have to comply with? How do I know my rights as a small customer?

As a small customer you are already protected by existing Tasmanian and Australian Consumer Law, as well as by specific electricity-related provisions under the National Energy Retail Law. These protections are unaffected by the introduction of full retail competition in Tasmania.

For further information, see Fact Sheet 9, Customer Protection and Fact Sheet 8, Getting Help Paying your Residential Electricity Bills.

13. Could I be refused supply of electricity?

There are laws in place to ensure there is always a retailer that is obliged to offer you, as a small customer, electricity supply under the terms and conditions of a standard retail contract at regulated prices. In Tasmania, this is Aurora Energy.

14. Can I combine electricity usage at my separate business premises to be treated as a large customer?

Yes. You can aggregate the annual consumption of separate business premises, so that you may be treated as a large customer (a business customer consuming at least 150 MWh of electricity per year), by written agreement with your retailer.

15. Can I combine installation loads that are not measured by a metering installation with loads that are measured?

No. You can only combine or aggregate loads that are measured by a metering installation. These metering installations, and the consumption measured at those installations, appear on your electricity account.

Examples of un-metered installation loads include electric fences, street lighting, traffic lights, telephone boxes, railroad crossing warning lights, aircraft beacons, and some security lighting.

16. I've been classified as a Large Customer but since that time, my consumption has significantly decreased. What can I do?

As a large customer, if your consumption has significantly decreased then you can apply to your distributor (TasNetworks) to be reclassified as a small customer. Please note that if the distributor has already classified or reclassified the premises within the previous 12 months, it can decline the application.

17. Who will read my meter?

Meter reading is usually undertaken by TasNetworks. From 1 December 2017, metering reading will continue to be undertaken by TasNetworks, with the option for retailers and new customers to appoint others to undertake this role.

For further information about metering for large and small customers, see Fact Sheet 3, Metering for Small Customers and Fact Sheet 4, Metering for Large Customers.

18. Will I need an interval meter before my new market contract starts?

If you are a large customer, you will need an interval meter and you should have this meter installed as soon as possible if you have not already done so. The half-hourly energy consumption data that you can get from an interval meter can help you negotiate the best possible price from your preferred retailer. Some retailers look for 12 months of consumption data before they make an offer.

If you are a small customer, you will not need an interval meter but will have the option to install one.

For further information, see Fact Sheet 4, Metering for Large Customers.

19. How do I know if I have the best deal?

Only you can tell if you have the best electricity deal that meets your own or business needs and circumstances.

Before switching to a different electricity retailer or electricity contract, check what you are paying now and how much electricity you are using under your current contract.

If you are planning to enter another contract before the end of your contract with your current retailer, also check whether you will have to pay an early termination fee to your existing retailer if you sign up for a contract with another retailer before the end of your current contract.

You may also consider how different contract terms, payment methods, fees and charges and promotional bonuses could save you from paying more than you need to.

20. What can I do if I change my mind?

If you are a small customer, you are allowed to change your mind if you decide that your new electricity contract is not for you.

If you change your mind within 10 business days of signing the contract, you can cancel the contract without costing you anything. If you cancel after the 10 business day 'cooling off period', you may need to pay the new retailer an exit fee.

Ask your retailer to explain all its fees and charges before you enter into a new electricity contract.

21. How do I make a complaint?

Contact the company selling your electricity to explain your complaint; the customer service contact information is normally listed on your bill.

If the customer service staff cannot help you, ask to speak to a supervisor. You will need to explain your complaint to the supervisor.

Your electricity retailer must tell you what decisions it has made about your complaint and what action will be taken.

If you are not happy with the retailer's decision, you can ask to have your complaint reviewed by someone higher up, and in another part of the company.

22. What if I can't get my complaint resolved?

If you cannot resolve your complaint with your distributor or retailer, you can call the Energy Ombudsman on 1800 001 170 (free call in Tasmania) to make a complaint.

Make sure you tell the Energy Ombudsman what steps you have taken to resolve your complaint with your distributor or retailer. The Energy Ombudsman may decline to examine your complaint, if you have not given your electricity distributor (the company supplying power to your premises) or electricity retailer (the company selling electricity to you) a reasonable opportunity to deal with your concerns.

It does not cost you anything to take your complaint to the Energy Ombudsman and your distributor or retailer is bound by the Energy Ombudsman's decision.

23. What prices can retailers charge me as a small customer?

In Tasmania, under the National Energy Customer Framework, all small customers have the right to be supplied electricity on a standard retail contract at prices that are approved independently by the Tasmanian Economic Regulator. This means that if you do not like the prices or conditions offered by a retailer under their market offers, you always have an option of entering into a standard retail contract with Aurora Energy where the prices are set according to what the Regulator considers to be appropriate in the context of what it costs the retailer to supply you with electricity.

24. What makes up final electricity prices?

Electricity prices take account of the following costs:

  • generation costs – the cost of purchasing electricity from generators;
  • network costs – the cost of building, maintaining and operating the distribution and transmission networks and transporting electricity from generators to customers via transmission towers, poles and wires;
  • National Energy Market (NEM) market costs – the cost of participating in the NEM;
  • retail costs – the cost of running a retail electricity business. Retailers are the businesses that buy the electricity from the generators and sell it to households and businesses. Retail costs include billing, marketing costs and the costs of attracting new, and retaining existing, customers; and
  • Commonwealth green schemes (ie schemes designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with the generation of electricity). 

25. Who sets Tasmanian electricity prices for small customers?

The Tasmanian Economic Regulator (TER) approves regulated retail electricity prices (ie standing offer prices) for small customers on standard retail contracts.

Small customers can access standard retail contracts at a regulated price from their regulated offer retailer. The regulated offer retailer for Tasmania is Aurora Energy.

The final price of electricity takes into account generation costs, network costs, National Energy Market (NEM) market costs, retail costs, and the cost of the Commonwealth green schemes. The TER reviews electricity costs regularly.

Whilst the TER approves standing offer prices it does not have discretion to determine the majority of these cost components.

For one, network charges which comprise around 60 per cent of total costs are regulated by the Australian Energy Regulator, an independent national body.

Secondly, the TER is required to calculate the Wholesale Electricity Price, which comprises around 23 per cent of total costs in accordance with the outputs of a wholesale pricing model (a model developed to comply with the principles set out in the Wholesale Contract Regulatory Instrument).

Thirdly, the cost to retailers of complying with the Australian Government's Renewable Energy Target (RET) comprises around 4 percent of total costs.

Finally, the Australian Energy Market Operator sets NEM market costs, which comprise around 0.5 per cent of total costs.

In summary, the TER has discretion with respect to the determination of just 13 per cent of the costs that contribute to the total cost of electricity.

26. How does the Australian Energy Regulator set network prices?

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) is the national, independent specialist regulatory body for the distribution and transmission (poles and wires) electricity network businesses in Australia. The AER reviews the revenue requirements of the network businesses every five years and the network businesses then submit annual pricing proposals, which must be consistent with those determinations.

27. What is a regulated price and do I have to pay this?

A regulated price is the maximum price that a regulated offer retailer (Aurora Energy) can charge small customers under a standard retail contract.

The Tasmanian Economic Regulator approves regulated prices (standing offer prices) for the various regulated tariffs under which electricity is supplied to regulated customers.

Tasmanian small customers can choose between a standard retail contract with Aurora Energy at regulated prices (ie standing offer prices), or shop around and choose a market retail contract with their regulated offer retailer or another retailer. The Australian Energy Regulator's energymadeeasy website helps customers compare available electricity deals.

28. How can I find out further information about electricity prices in Tasmania?

Further information about pricing in the Tasmanian retail electricity market is available on the pricing page of the Office of the Tasmanian Economic Regulator's website.

29. Who will be my distributor? Who looks after the poles and wires?

TasNetworks, in its capacity as a licensed distributor, is responsible for physically distributing or delivering electricity to customers connected to its distribution network. You will have a contract with your distributor but you will not receive a separate bill for distribution charges. The distributor is responsible for the “poles and wires" no matter which retailer you choose.

30. Will I receive the same quality and safety with my electricity?

Yes. No matter who your retailer is you will be guaranteed the same quality, safety and reliability that you presently enjoy.

31. If I lose electricity supply and Aurora Energy is not my retailer, who is going to fix it?

TasNetworks (in its capacity as a licensed distributor) will fix your supply no matter who your retailer is. You will not be penalised if you choose to purchase your electricity from a retailer other than Aurora Energy.

32. Can I buy from the wholesale electricity market instead of using a retailer?

Yes, but this is a business decision requiring some consideration due to the volatility in pricing in the wholesale electricity market. See Fact Sheet 2, Purchasing from the electricity wholesale market, for more information.

33. What is the National Electricity Market? How can I find out further information?

The National Electricity Market (NEM) allows trading in electricity between generators and wholesale customers, including authorised electricity retailers. It has a common set of rules under which electricity can be traded within and between states at a wholesale level. Industry participants obtain access to electricity transmission and distribution networks. It also allows for competition at a retail level.

A number of mechanisms have been put into place to regulate the NEM and ensure that it runs efficiently, securely and safely. The wholesale market is operated by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). Its functions are laid out in the National Electricity Law and its operation is guided by the National Electricity Rules.

For more information about the NEM see Fact Sheet 5​, National Electricity Market Explained or the AEMO's website.

34. Does retail competition extend to public street lighting?

Yes, you can choose the retailer for public street lighting in the same way you can choose your retailer for metered sites.

It is important to note that retail competition only extends to the electricity consumption of unmetered installations (such as streetlights) that has been classified by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) as a 'market load'. For further information, see the AEMO's webpage.

Aurora Energy continues to have financial responsibility for all non-contestable unmetered electricity consumption on mainland Tasmania (that is, all unmetered electricity consumption that has not been classified by the AEMO as a 'market load'). This includes services such as traffic lights and lighting in public facilities such as bus shelters.

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