All residential customers on mainland Tasmania as well as those small business customers consuming less than 150 megawatt hours of electricity per year fall within the definition of ‘small customers’ under the National Energy Customer Framework (NECF).
The NECF provides robust consumer protections for all small customers in Tasmania (see Fact Sheet 9, Customer Protection). The framework recognises that small customers have little bargaining power and can be put at a significant disadvantage by the practices of retailers and distributors if those practices are not regulated to ensure certain minimum standards.
Tasmanian small customers may choose:
- to enter into a standard retail contract or a market retail contract with any authorised retailer; or
- to purchase electricity from the electricity wholesale market (see Fact Sheet 2, Purchasing electricity from the wholesale marketplace).
As the designated retailer for Tasmania, Aurora Energy is required to make an offer to supply electricity to small customers under its standard retail contract at standing offer prices, which are approved by the Tasmanian Economic Regulator.
A retailer’s standard retail contract must be in the form specified in the National Energy Retail Rules (NERR). A market retail contract for small customers may be more flexible, yet still subject to certain minimum terms and conditions specified under the NERR.
Under the NECF, a pre-payment contract (i.e. pay as you go) is a market retail contract, subject to special conditions. Contact your retailer for further information about the pre-payment products they offer.
All residential customers (customers who purchase electricity principally for personal, household or domestic use at premises) are also covered by an authorised retailer’s hardship policy. All hardship policies are subject to conditions specified in the National Energy Retail Law and NERR and are approved by the Australian Energy Regulator (see Fact Sheet 9, Customer Protection and Fact Sheet 8, Getting help paying your residential electricity bills).
Check your retailer’s website and Customer Charter for further information about its hardship arrangements and customer relations.
TasNetworks, in its capacity as a licensed distributor, is responsible for physically distributing or delivering electricity from the high voltage transmission grid to the sites of most customers. TasNetworks (as a licensed distributor) is responsible for the “poles and wires” no matter which retailer you choose, unless the site is directly connected to the high voltage transmission network. For further information see Fact Sheet 7, Distribution of your electricity.
You will find some information regarding which authorised retailers have informed the Regulator that they are operating in Tasmania and offering contracts to small customers on the Useful Contacts page. There are also details for energy consultants on that page, should you require professional assistance with your decision.
The national price comparison site www.energymadeeasy.gov.au may also be informative while making your choice. Before you shop around, it is a good idea to go through your existing electricity and gas bills to see how much energy you are using, how much you need and how much you are paying now.
Fact Sheet 6, Choosing an electricity retailer, may help with the decision making process.
The Tasmanian Energy Ombudsman provides a free, fair and independent dispute resolution service for electricity consumers who have been unable to resolve a complaint with their retailer or distributor.
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.