Choosing an energy contract
As all consumers are different, there is no single contract that will be best for all and we suggest reading the information below to assist your decision.
To avoid any confusion we suggest that you consider the features of a contract, ask questions of the retailer before you sign and read the terms and conditions.
If you enter into a contract and reconsider, you can still cancel the contract within the cooling off period if you change your mind.
Three types of electricity or gas contracts are available in South Australia.
1. Standard retail contracts
These are basic contracts available to all South Australians.
Legislation sets out model terms and conditions for standard retail contracts, including the minimum standards of protection to customers as well as their obligations.
Retailers cannot change these terms and conditions.
Each retailer is required to offer at least one contract that follows the terms and conditions of the standard retail contract model. However, it is unlikely they are called a standard retail contract.
The pricing under a standard retail contracts is set by the retailer.
The contract must be ongoing, with no exit fee applied if you choose to change retailers at any time.
If you have not actively negotiated a new contract with an electricity or gas retailer, then you may be on a standard retail contract. Check your bill or contact your retailer if you are unsure what plan you are on.
While a standard retail contract may not be suitable for all customers, it may be of use if you will only occupy a property for a short period, and do not want to pay an exit fee when you move.
2. Market retail contracts
Market retail contracts (often called ‘plans’) are the most common type of energy plan available.
Market retail contracts can vary greatly and each retailer may offer a number of plans with differing tariff rates, fees, discounts, billing frequencies, payment arrangements, contract lengths or penalties for early termination/cancellation.
While market retail contracts can vary, they must still comply with the minimum consumer protection requirements specified in the National Energy Retail Rules.
Your retailer must give you a Customer Charter that clearly outlines these minimum terms and conditions.
Due to the variations between plans and retailers, it is important for you to find a retailer and a plan that best suits your needs. For example, you may not mind being committed to one retailer for a fixed period if it means you will receive a cheaper rate or a larger discount.
3. Deemed customer retail arrangements
If you move into a property and use electricity or gas without having contacted a retailer to set up an account, you will be deemed to have an arrangement with the retailer currently supplying the property (usually the last retailer used by the previous residents).
As soon as the retailer becomes aware that electricity or gas is being consumed at the property, they should contact you and provide you with information including prices, terms and condition of the deemed customer retailer arrangement as well as options for establishing a retail contract.
The retailer will likely contact you via letters addressed to ‘Dear Customer’ or ‘Dear Occupier’.
Be sure to contact the retailer as soon as possible, as the payment for electricity and gas used at the property is your responsibility. The retailer may disconnect your supply if payment is not made.
You MUST enter into a retail contract for your electricity and gas, be it a market or a standard contract. You cannot continue with a deemed retail arrangement.
Retailers usually charge higher rates under deemed arrangements.
Therefore, it is important to plan ahead and contact your chosen electricity and gas retailer(s) to establish accounts and choose contracts before you move into a property.
10 day cooling off period
All electricity and gas contracts have a 10-day cooling off period. If you change your mind, you can cancel the contract within 10 business days without paying any cancellation or exit fees. You should put your cancellation in writing and keep a copy as a record.
Your retailer must give you a single, written, plain English statement that explains the key terms of the contract including prices, fees and charges and the term of the contract as soon as practicable.
Check with your current retailer if any exit fees apply before signing a contract with a new retailer.
Once you have signed a contract with the retailer you have chosen, you will receive one last bill from your current retailer.
The final bill will arrive shortly after your next scheduled meter read. It could take two weeks or three months.The bill after that final bill should be from your newly chosen retailer.
If you receive a concession from your current energy retailer, you will need to provide details to your new retailer when you transfer.
You may need to reapply for your concession through the Department for Communities and Social Inclusion on 1800 307 758.
Read the fine print and take your time
A contract is legally binding, so read it carefully and only sign when you understand what you are agreeing to.If a marketer pressures or misleads you, contact the retailer they represent to make a complaint.
What happens when your contract ends?
Your retailer must give you at least 20 and no more than 40 days’ notice when your contract is ending. You can then choose to sign a new contract with them, or change to a different contract or retailer.If you choose not to act on the notice, your retailer may automatically roll you on to a similar contract with them.
Before making the choice to purchase renewable energy, get the facts at Green Power.