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Choosing an energy retailer

There are many important things to consider when choosing a retailer.

You may be looking for the biggest discount, cheapest tariff rate, a short contract length, monthly billing or no exit fees when you switch retailers. Everyone’s needs are different and so it pays to do your research before making a decision.

We have put together some tips for comparing retailers together with details on an independent plan comparison service and the process of switching retailers.

What is a retailer?

Electricity and gas consumers in South Australia buy their energy from retailers.

Electricity and gas retailers do not usually own the wires, poles, pipes or meters. They buy the energy wholesale from a distributor and then sell it on to you.

Changing your retailer means that you are changing the entity that sells you electricity or gas (and sends you the bills) only.

It does not change the wires, poles or pipes used to deliver the electricity or gas, or affect the reliability or quality of your supply. 

Comparing offers from retailers

Retailers offer many different contracts and plans.

It is important to compare costs, payment options, customer service levels and other criteria to ensure you choose the retailer that best meets your needs.

Do not base your decision solely on the discounts that a retailer may offer. Look at the price per kilowatt-hour for electricity, or per megajoule for gas along with the discounts that they are offering.

Compare them to your current plan to make sure the new price is better.

Keep in mind that some retailers will offer discounts or other incentives to entice you to join, but also may ask you to commit to staying with them for a fixed number of years. The price may also be increased during the term of your plan.

If at some point you want to change retailers before the contract period is up, they may also charge you an exit fee.

Fees and charges

The South Australian energy market currently does not have regulated prices.

It is very important to read the terms and conditions of the contract or plan your retailer will send you.

When it comes to the retailer’s ability to increase prices or charge fees, the retailer can only do so as set out in the contract or plan you sign.

Comparison services

Comparison services are a useful way to find out about plans offered by different electricity and gas retailers.

Be aware, however, that some comparison services may not show plans from all retailers or may receive a commission from certain retailers.

There is an independent service run by the Australian Energy Regulator called Energy Made Easy that provides information about all authorised electricity and gas retailers in South Australia.

Switching retailers

Many people think switching retailers is a difficult and time-consuming process, but it is not.

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.

Links and further information