Best Electricity Providers Apr 2022

This article does not help those who have solar - I would like to see Solar taken into account to show who is the best provider.

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My reading of the survey is that it rates just 3 factors,

  • Customer complaints
  • Call response
  • Green electricity guide score

The Choice expert score combines all 3.

Why do the large retailers such as AGL, Origin, Energy Australia, Alinta etc all score so poorly on the Expert score? Does the ‘Green electricity guide score’ skews the results?

Choice points out that the results for handling of customer complaints etc can be viewed separately. In which instance there is little difference between the results of most of the retailers.

Recent personal experience with retailers includes tariff and plan changes (end of plan).
If I was to rate a provider it would include the ease of determining the optimal plan for our needs. This involves a combination of using the web sites of various retailers, looking at CanStar assessments, the Govt Energy Made Easy web site (not so easy), and ringing several retailers to discuss and clarify their best offers.

On that experience I’d rate the industry and government ‘Energy Made Easy’ web site a big fat zero for ease of use, efficiency and transparency. In particular with respect to assessing demand tariff estimates. In the end I had to resort to a complex home grown spread sheet to compare offers. Particularly frustrating was a general failure to include or mention smart metering costs. These are unavoidable if one has solar PV.

What I’d like to see in a Choice survey of retailers is an assessment of

    1. how easy it is to obtain a reliable assessment of their alternate plans,
    1. the performance of the supporting digital billing and metering apps/web resource,
    1. support for real time metering in the home in response to the incentivising of demand tariffs.

Green energy aside the Choice survey suggests there is little difference between the majority of the retailers. There are several stand outs for call response and several to avoid, otherwise much of a muchness.

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The Victoria energy compare gets 90+% from me. Its main shortcoming is that it is not 100% synchronised to rate changes and sometimes lags a day or few because the retailers don’t update their plans on it until the plans are updated - eg no forewarning and possibly days late between them sending it in and it showing up in the consumers hands. Ease of use? Excellent. It accepts the csv files available from our grid operators as input (and explains how to get them); it uses that trailing history, not averages for the house, occupants, heating, dryers, cooling, etc. in the area.

Some gamesmanship the retailers play is changing the rates mid-billing cycle. Since one can only change suppliers at a reading/billing there can be weeks, a month or more of being captive at higher rates one should be able to avoid. The only current solution is to pay for a reading, that will trigger a change to the new supplier, but at a cost that could exceed the savings. Considering billing and administration I accept that seems reasonable but the correct rules should be that the retailers can only change their rates/plans starting from a reading/billing, not midstream.

As I have posted, the energy compare site is very accurate for my electricity, and reasonably close for my gas, and I keep spreadsheets accurate enough to reflect my bills to a $0.01 accuracy for confidence. I make my switching decisions informed by energy compare and confirmed by my spreadsheets.

We also don’t have added fees some states apparently have to cop. Our bills show use, solar input, and daily service charges. Everything else is bundled so there are no surprises.

The Choice scores seem all but meaningless in my context. I look at cost, whether they answer the phone or emails and ‘get it done’, and to a lesser extent ‘green’ (I do not trust their claims to be more than marketing and possibly less reliable than anything pollies say during an election campaign).

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I would like to see a study on electricity price with solar rebate.

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Hi @CaCahill,

I moved your follow-on post into your original topic and note your interest in solar has not been addressed as you had hoped.

Each electricity plan explicitly shows how much FiT it pays for solar inputs. Is there something else that is missing?

Would it be how solar plans have higher base charges than non-solar? That is a game for utilities to market what are essentially false ‘savings’. Raise the price and offer the FiT - eg the customer does not really get the perceived benefit of the FiT.

Yet those of us with solar have dramatically lower bills (mine is 20-25% of pre-solar) and in places like Alice nothing but ongoing credits build and build.

Would a ‘study’ calling out the worst of them having higher solar pricing be more informative than comparing how much electricity will cost, all inclusive? eg the Victoria or other energy compare sites (not so much the comparison sites owned or funded by utilities that are actually marketing exercises) include the impacts of solar inputs in their comparisons.

If you could advise what you are looking for in the ‘study’ that is missing, perhaps we can answer it in the Community or flag it to Choice staff?

If your interest is in how to size a solar system, there are topics like

discussing that.

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The financials associated with installing solar have changed since the high subsidies provided for early installations. Current feed in tariffs (FITs) are based on the wholesale or electricity pool price and aren’t a compelling reason to install solar. If you rely on FITs to pay for your solar system, it doesn’t make financial sense.

Solar systems today make financial sense when the energy they produce are used within the household (this offsets electricity which otherwise would be used from the grid at the price established by the retailer one uses. And FITs are relatively minor and a small ‘bonus’.

FITs only become relevant if one is exporting significant amounts of electricity - which may indicate that the system is oversized for the dwelling it has been installed and may make it very difficult to have a reasonable payback period over the life of the system. irrespective of this, most states have regulated FITs and it doesn’t (significantly) change between retailers…noting that some offer modest bonus rates of a few cents/kW. As a result, using FITs as an assessment for selecting electricity retailers may have little merit when comparing between retailers.

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Not everyone would make that decision purely for short term financial gain. We all have different needs and objectives. Choice in the recent survey is rating the retailers on ‘best’ consumer performance. Best is not being determined by the lowest direct cost to the consumer. Many consumers are more than prepared to buy the top of the range version of the vehicle model when the significantly cheaper base model is more than adequate. Similar may be suggested as to brand preferences or higher performance models. Doubtless we justify those decisions on ‘best’ as rational. The best product support, the best consumer response, the best at reducing carbon emissions, the best dealer network, the best service teams, ….

I’ve used the same resources from SolarQuotes referenced by Choice and @PhilT prior post. Between Choice’s guides and SolarQuotes comprehensive guides including useful tools for assessing one’s needs and the costs with a solar PV or battery. These are very different questions independent of finding the best retailer.

It’s useful to note that a number of retailers Origin being one, offer integrated packages for the supply and installation of Solar PV with or without batteries. While Choice has included green electricity in the criteria for ‘best’ for other consumers ‘best’ might include access to solar PV upgrades, or even BEV packages.

As a constructive criticism of the Choice survey, there are opportunities to look at other features or services available from individual retailers. There is an assumption on agreement as to what ‘best’ really means. If it means cheapest, a survey is not the solution. Choice has that covered elsewhere.

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@jblakkarly might be putting this on the list of Choice issues. It is probably intractable because of the related builds but putting a building owner in the position of a utility provider with no protections for the consumer/tenant seems a bit over the top.

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