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When it comes to electricity in QLD, where you live plays an important role. For those in the Great South East — Brisbane, the Gold Coast and the surrounding areas — the retail electricity market has been deregulated since 2016. So, if you’re living in SEQ, you can pick your own Electricity Retailer and choose from the plans and prices that they set.
But what if you live out west or up in the tropics? Don’t sweat it (figuratively at least), your electricity prices are regulated by the Queensland Competition Authority.1 This means that no matter if you live in Mount Isa or Bundy, you won’t be paying through the nose for electricity, even if it costs retailers a fair bit to supply it to you. The Uniform Tariff Policy takes care of that, keeping prices comparable, regardless of location.2
So if you live in regional QLD, you still have a couple of options to choose from when it comes to picking a provider. You can pick an Electricity Retailer and a market offer plan (the plans you see advertised which could be less than the regulated prices). Alternatively, you can ask an Electricity Retailer for the regulated prices.
Of course, where you live in regional QLD could affect which Electricity Retailers are available. In general, a lot of Queenslanders outside of the South East have limited options.3 But that doesn’t mean there won’t be a great-value deal in your area.
If you live in SEQ, the deregulated pricing means that there can be variation between Electricity Plans at the discretion of retailers. They want to be competitive after all. So, to save you from trying to make sense of a scribble, the clearest way to see the general trend of electricity costs is actually through the Default Market Offer (DMO).
This is a price set by the Australian Energy Regulator for electricity on standing offer contracts in SEQ, along with NSW and SA.4 (FYI: Standing offer contracts are basically default contracts for people who can’t or don’t want to go through the retail electricity market.) Because the DMO takes into account all the costs associated with generating and supplying electricity to your home while ensuring that you aren’t being overcharged, it also can be used as a reference price for market offers.5
The graph below charts the DMO price for South East Queensland residents since it began in 2019–20 through to 2023–24. Since it also applies to NSW and SA, it gives you an idea of what other states may be paying too.
If that jump from 2022–23 to 2023–24 set your heart racing more than learning it’s Irukandji jellyfish season while you’re chest deep in the surf, take a breath. It’s all due to that pesky global energy crisis and the subsequent wholesale costs the DMO had to consider.11 Just remember that the DMO isn’t the only option in SEQ. You may instead find that there are Electricity Retailers offering contracts that are cheaper than the DMO.
But what about if you’re living beyond the South East? What can you expect prices to look like? Well, you only need to check in on how the regulated price has changed.
Turns out the regulated pricing has gone through the same highs and lows the DMO has. Like the DMO, it was those underlying wholesale costs that really drove regulated pricing up from 2022–23 to 2023–24.12 Knowing this, it may be worth double checking your options, even if pricing is regulated in regional QLD. There may be a selection of market offer Electricity Plans you can choose from that are less than the regulated pricing.
If the most you do with your electricity bill is pay it, then it could be time for a change. Reading through your bill helps you understand why your final total is what it is. Plus, if you aren’t across your electricity bill, how will you know if a better-value option is staring you right in the face?
This means getting to grips with some odd jargon and fiddly figures. But like learning the best spots for Riverfire, this is a lesson that could serve you well for years to come.
Just to make things tricky, you might see this called other names, like ‘daily supply charge’, ‘service to property charge’ or ‘fixed charge’. Whatever you call it though, this is essentially your ticket to using Queensland’s electricity grid. And you’re going to be buying a new ticket every day. This fee is charged daily, regardless of how much power you’re using. The exact amount will depend on your retailer and plan, and it might be shown as a cent per day rate or a total figure for the billing period.13
Here’s where things get technical and you need to know about tariffs. Your usage charge (also known as a ‘variable charge’ or ‘consumption charge’) is directly linked to how much electricity you use. But there may be different prices for usage at different times of day, if certain appliances are separately metered, or if there is a threshold for kilowatt hours used before things tick over to a higher price.14 It all depends on your plan’s tariffs.
So, let’s talk tariffs and untangle your Electricity Bill.
As simple as tariffs get, this is a flat rate for electricity used, no matter the time of day or how much. In QLD, you might see this referred to as Tariff 11.15
This is a handy one to know about if you want to potentially save on your electricity bill. Your Electricity Plan will outline peak electricity usage periods with higher usage charges. The idea behind it is you could be saving on your electricity bill by using less electricity in those expensive peak times, and the electricity network isn’t overloaded with everyone trying to use lots of electricity at once.16 It might show up on your bill as Tariffs 12B or 12C.17
A twist on time-of-use tariffs, demand tariffs measure how intensely you’re using electricity rather than just how much across different time periods. So, if you’re cooking Christmas lunch and using every appliance in the kitchen as opposed to simply toasting a sandwich, your demand is going to be higher. You’ll get charged daily supply and usage charges, which can be lower than other tariffs, but you also get demand charges in peak usage periods.18 If you see Tariffs 14A or 14B on your bill, that’s a demand tariff.19
If you’ve got a pool pump or another appliance that loves to use lots of electricity, an interruptible or controlled load tariff may help take the bite out of your bills. It will only get power for parts of the day, generally measured by a separate meter. Look for Tariffs 31 or 33 on your power bill to spot this kind of usage charge.20
What does QLD have in spades? No, it’s not mosquitos and bin chickens — it’s sunshine! And you might be able to turn that sweet sunshine into sweet savings. If you have a solar PV system, you could switch things around and have your Energy Retailer paying you for putting electricity back into the grid.21
We promise the lesson is almost over and then you can get yourself a treat from the tuckshop. The last thing to cover is fees.
Phew! That’s a lot to take in but it’s unlikely your bill will have all these tariffs and fees to watch out for. Plus, you may even find there are some additional positive numbers to consider, like discounts for paying on time or with direct debit.
It’s time to put your new bill knowledge into action. Think about which tariffs could get you better value. For instance, you might be able to change your electricity habits to work around peak periods and time-of-use tariffs. Having an idea of the kind of plan you’re after can help you compare Electricity Plans.
Something else you can do is review your existing plan and bills. This helps you know if another plan is really a great deal or not. Don’t forget to check if there are any discounts or fees that could affect your decision.
Then it’s only a matter of comparing to see if you can save. And to save you time, you can get started right now online with iSelect and our range of providers and plans.*
Regardless of whether you’re living on the border or cooling your heels way past the Tropic of Capricorn, there are a few electricity rebates and concessions all Queenslanders should know about to help keep those electricity bills in check.
With this rebate, you could save up to $372.20 each year.22 Of course, you need to be eligible, so that means having any of the below:23
But it’s not quite as simple as flashing your concession card. You’ll need to be the one registered on your electricity account. Plus, certain living arrangements have to be met.24
Queensland weather can be brutal to bear at the best of times. It can be even worse if you have a chronic medical condition that does not appreciate the heat and humidity. So, to help manage the electricity costs of keeping your home comfortable, the Medical Cooling and Heating Electricity Concession Scheme exists.
You’ll need to be a Queensland resident, plus have a qualifying medical condition, like multiple sclerosis or autonomic system dysfunction. In addition to this, you’ll need to have a concession card, like a Services Australia Health Care Card, and be the one paying the electricity bill.25 Once you get the concession, you could get up to $479.03 annually to help out with electricity costs.26
If you’re going through a short-term financial crisis, this scheme can help to keep the lights on at home with up to $720 every two years.27 But there’s a little bit more to it than that.
Like other concessions and rebates, you’ll need to meet a few criteria. This includes having a lower income or having a current concession card. Additionally, your unforeseen emergency or financial crisis needs to fit within certain parameters.28 If you’re struggling, it could be worth a look into.
This is an initiative for 2023–24 which gives vulnerable households a $700 rebate on their electricity bills and all other households a $550 rebate.29 These rebates also get applied to your bill automatically, so you don’t have to worry about paperwork. Just bear in mind that you’ll see your rebate broken up across your electricity bill every quarter rather than as a lump sum.30
If you’ve got your eyes on that bigger rebate, you’ll need to be receiving or be eligible to get the Electricity Rebate. Otherwise, you’ll get the lower $550 rebate31 — not that that’s anything to sneeze at!
The Queensland Government has set an emissions target for the Sunshine State, aiming for a 30% reduction (based on 2005’s emissions) by 2030 and net zero by 2050.32 In exciting news, as of October 2023, things are on track to reach that first goal.33 But what does that mean for your home and electricity bill?
Well, it means that the generation source of your electricity is likely to change. In 2022, coal was how QLD generated more than 60% of its power, with renewables trailing along at 22%.34
But the government has a big plan — the Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan actually — which aims for 70% renewable energy by 2032 and 80% come 2035.35 And things are on track here too, particularly because of rooftop solar with Queensland homes and businesses generating their own energy.36 These properties could also be getting some cashback on their bills if they have that solar feed-in tariff too.
But even if you’re not on renewables or generating your own electricity, you could still be seeing some positives from these emission targets and the gradual switch to renewables. When renewables are favoured over other electricity generation methods, they can help to drop wholesale electricity prices.37 Since your electricity bill takes into account these prices (if you’re on the DMO),38 you may also see a drop in your overall bill. Embracing renewables can also help reduce the extremes of electricity price rises,39 like those of the global energy crisis.
There’s plenty you can do around the house that could help you save money on your electricity bill. But even if you’re an enthusiastic energy saver that Captain Planet would be proud of, you could still be paying more than you need to. With iSelect, you can compare from our range of plans and providers available in QLD.* Try the online tool today or speak with one of our consultants for free on 13 19 20.
1 Queensland Government - Electricity tariffs and charges
2 Queensland Competition Authority - Electricity FAQs
3 Queensland Competition Authority - About the retail electricity markets
4 Australian Energy Regulator - Default market offer prices 2023–24
5 Australian Energy Regulator - Electricity price safety net
6 Australian Energy Regulator - Final determination - Default market offer prices, p61
7 Australian Energy Regulator - Default market offer - Price determination 2020–21 final determination, p3
8 Australian Energy Regulator - Default Market Offer - Price determination 2021-22 Final Determination, p3
9 Australian Energy Regulator - Final determination - Default market offer prices 2022–23 - Fact sheet, p3
10 Australian Energy Regulator - Final determination - Default market offer prices 2023–24 - Fact sheet, p2
11 As above
12 Queensland Competition Authority - Regulated electricity prices for regional Queensland 2023–24 (Information Booklet), p6
13 Australian Energy Regulator - Tariff and fees explained
14 As above
15 Queensland Competition Authority - Queensland Government Gazette No. 27, p184
16 Queensland Government - Electricity tariffs and charges
17 Queensland Competition Authority - Queensland Government Gazette No. 27, p184
18 Queensland Government - Electricity tariffs and charges
19 Queensland Competition Authority - Queensland Government Gazette No. 27, p184
20 Energy Made Easy - Which type of tariff is right for you?
21 Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water - Solar PV and batteries
22 Queensland Government - Electricity and gas rebates
23 As above
24 As above
25 Queensland Government - Medical Cooling and Heating Electricity Concession Scheme
26 As above
27 Queensland Government - Home Energy Emergency Assistance Scheme
28 As above
29 Queensland Government - Cost of Living Rebate for Households
30 As above
31 As above
32 Department of Environment and Science - Queensland’s greenhouse gas emissions and targets
33 As above
34 Energy.gov.au - Australian electricity generation - fuel mix calendar year 2022
35 Department of Energy and Public Works - Queensland’s renewable energy target
36 As above
37 ABC News - Annual wholesale electricity prices fall by 59 per cent as households face surging power bills
38 Australian Energy Regulator - Electricity Price Safety Net
39 ABC News - Annual wholesale electricity prices fall by 59 per cent as households face surging power bills