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Electricity & Gas Market Contracts

Market Contracts vs Regulated Contracts


How do I know if I am on a contract for electricity or gas?

Anyone who receives electricity or natural gas bills for using power and/or gas at your home or business has a contract with an electricity or gas retailer. Electricity and gas contracts are binding legal agreements allowing you to receive a supply of electricity or gas at your home or business.



What is the difference between a regulated contract and a market contract?

Regulated contracts (also called standard contracts or non-market contracts) are basic electricity and gas contracts with terms and conditions that are prescribed by law and have a certain level of protection. In all places except Victoria, electricity prices under regulated contracts are set by the regulator in your state or territory in consultation with electricity retailers. In Victoria prices for standard electricity contracts are determined by retailers themselves and published in the Victorian Government Gazette.


For residents of New South Wales and South Australia the prices under standard natural gas contracts are set by the regulator in your state in consultation with energy retailers. In Queensland, ACT, Victoria and Tasmania the standard gas prices are set by retailers themselves.


Market contracts are contracts that have been agreed between you and your energy retailer and may contain different terms, conditions and prices to regulated contracts including discounts, bonuses, different billing periods, different payment options, fixed contract terms, early termination fees, etc. Prices under market contracts are set by the retailers themselves.

If you switch your energy retailer you will either be switching from a regulated or standard contract to a market contract (if you are currently on a regulated contract) or from a market contract with one retailer to a market contract with another retailer.



Why switch to a market contract?

You might be able to save money on your power and gas bills by switching to a market contract. There could be up to 14 energy retailers from which to choose, each offering different pricing, discounts, bonuses and other incentives to switch. Just like other services, such as telecommunications, competition amongst energy retailers enables you to choose the price and service that is best for you.



Can I switch back to a regulated contract at a later date?

The general answer is yes, if you are on or switch to a market contract you can later decide to switch back to a regulated contract with regulated tariffs. However, each state and territory has different approaches and rules for reverting back to regulated (non-market) contracts so please read about the situation in your state below.



New South Wales


Depending upon where in NSW you reside, either Energy Australia, Integral Energy or Country Energy could be your host (regulated) electricity retailer and either AGL, ActewAGL, Country Energy or Origin Energy could be your host (regulated) gas retailer which means that if you are on a market contract with any retailer and wish to return to a regulated contract these companies are obliged to offer to sell electricity or gas respectively to small customers at a standing contract price and subject to standing contract terms and conditions. However, please note that if you are on a market contract early termination fees could apply if you break your contract early to revert to a regulated contract.


You can read more about your rights on the Independent Pricing and Review Tribunal (IPART) website:


Electricity contracts

Gas contracts



Victoria


From 1 January 2009, all energy retailers operating in Victoria must offer you their regulated contract (called a standing contract in Victoria) if they have responsibility for the house that you are living in (or move into) and you have not been offered a market contract by another retailer. However, unlike other states, the prices for standing contracts are set by each energy retailer not the government. However, the terms and conditions of the contract are set by the Essential Services Commission of Victoria (ESC). You can learn more about your rights on the ESC website.



Queensland


Small customers living in South-East Queensland (the Energex electricity network area) who enter into a market contract with any electricity retailer may choose to later return to the regulated prices (called notified prices), which are published each year in the Queensland Government Gazette, with either their current retailer or a new retailer. However, please note that if you are on a market contract early termination fees could apply if you break your contract early to revert to the regulated prices.


Small customers living in rural and regional Queensland (Ergon electricity network area) have the same rights as those living in South-East Queensland. However, as there is currently no choice of electricity retailer other than Ergon Energy in these areas, this point is moot.


You can read more about your rights on the Queensland Government Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI) website.



South Australia


AGL is the host (regulated) electricity retailer and Origin Energy is the host (regulated) gas retailer in SA which means that if you are on a market contract with any retailer and wish to return to a regulated contract these companies are obliged to offer to sell electricity or gas respectively to small customers at a standing contract price and subject to standing contract terms and conditions. However, please note that if you are on a market contract early termination fees could apply if you break your contract early to revert to a regulated contract.


You can read more about your rights on the Essential Services Commission of South Australia (ESCOSA) website:


Electricity contracts

Gas contracts



Australian Capital Territory


ActewAGL is the host (regulated) electricity and gas retailer in the ACT which means that if you are on a market contract with any retailer and wish to return to a regulated contract you could do so by switching back to ActewAGL. However, please note that if you are on a market contract early termination fees could apply if you break your contract early to revert to a regulated contract.


You can read more about your rights on the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission (ICRC) website.



Northern Territory, Tasmania and Western Australia


If you live in one of these states or territories where there is not currently retail competition in electricity you will automatically be on a regulated contract and are not yet able to switch to another electricity retailer or a market contract.



This information is kindly supplied by Switchwise.com.au


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