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The emergence of new entrant energy retailers represent a significant threat to the ‘big three’. The gradual implementation of the National Energy Consumer Framework (NECF) (currently applicable in NSW, SA, TAS and ACT) has had the effect of emboldening new entrant electricity retailers. Electricity retail is a highly regulated industry (perhaps to the benefit of not only consumers but also lawyers…). On the first point, there are plenty of great tools such as NEM-Watch to assist in understanding the market.
With new and proposed regulations further restricting the operation of generators and others, new entrant retailers also appreciate that there is less opportunity for them to be ‘gamed’ by the other players in the market.
Lastly, new entrant retailers know that there will be more acquisitions and there will be further consolidation.
Consumer dissatisfaction with current providers provides leverage to new entrant retailers, who are keenly aware that people don’t have a great degree of loyalty towards their existing energy retailers. Customer dissatisfaction with electricity retailers has risen dramatically over the past five years.
Last financial year, the Energy and Water Ombudsman NSW (EWON) received 30,349 electricity related complaints (see page 18: EWON Annual Report 2012-2013). Ultimately, the beneficiaries of increased choice will be energy consumers, not only in terms of pricing but also by improved customer service, better delivery of service, new products and blended offers combining grid energy with products such as solar. With the larger number of retailers now operating, there is obviously a greater risk that one will fail or that consolidation of the market will be required (assuming that retail margins may not be as profitable as they currently are or are perceived to be).
Connor James is a qualified solicitor with extensive experience in the regulations applicable to energy retail. Connor is the director and founder of Permitz Group which is focused on different areas of licencing. Permitz Group has worked for many leading companies including Sony, Toyota, Suzuki, Hilton Hotels and JB Hi-Fi.
We'd love to hear your thoughts on the site, so feel free to contact us with any comments, questions or suggestions for improvement. Time of Use metering has been introduced in NSW to provide financial incentive to use power at off-peak times, and disincentive to use it during peak times.
A higher rate is charged during the Peak period, than in the Shoulder and Off Peak periods. If more people can move their electricity use to off peak times, then the government and electricity companies will not need to make as much investment in distribution infrastructure – this will lead to lower prices over the long term. The information below can help you choose when is the best time to use electricity in order to save on electricity bills. If your supplier is EnergyAustralia, you now have the option to switch back from Time of Use rates to a constant fixed price. At Carers Victoria, we are committed to assisting carers and caring families in as many ways as possible. Carers Victoria has been one of the successful funding recipients of the Energy Information Fund, a Victorian State funded program, to support the education and empowerment of Victorians to make informed decisions about their electricity use and providers. A Carers Victoria video advising you how you can make an informed choice about your electricity. With so many different names and brands mentioned in the electricity market it can be hard to know who is who, here is a run-down of key players and what role they play. The electricity distributor is the company responsible for maintaining the electricity poles and wires that deliver electricity to your home. If you find yourself in a dispute with an energy retailer that cannot be resolved the Energy and Water Ombudsman can take complaints about all electricity, gas and water companies. The introduction of smart meters into most homes in Victoria has enabled electricity retailers to change the way they price electricity.
Flexible pricing enables consumers to shift their electricity usage to the off peak times to save money.
However make sure if you sign up to a flexible price you understand what the peak and off peak prices are and understand how much of your electricity usage you can realistically expect to shift. As peak prices in flexible pricing plans tend to be more expensive than typical ‘flat tarrifs' (where you are charged the same price regardless of the time of day), if you can't shift your usage to the off peak period you may end up paying more and be better off avoiding flexible pricing. To determine if flexible pricing is for you, first make sure you understand your electricity usage, then log on to My Power Planner to see how your plan compares with other available offers.

Sometimes the first step in reducing your electricity usage is ensuring you understand which home appliances are consuming the most electricity.
Web portals are a website provided by some electricity retailers and distributors which enable you to track your electricity consumption data. An in-home display (IHD) is a small device with an LCD screen, which connects wirelessly to your smart meter to provide real-time electricity consumption data. The benefit of these devices is the detailed real time information they provide, however while they do attract a subsidy under the Victorian Energy Saver incentive, they typically retail for around $100 - $150. Under Victorian law there are several programs designed to help consumers keep control of their electricity bills, including consumer protections such as cooling off periods, concessions and financial hardship programs. Consumer laws have been designed to ensure that you stay in control of your electricity bills.
If you have had enough of intrusive sales people knocking on your door, you can display a Do not knock sticker at your door which makes it unlawful for a door-to-door sales person to knock on your door. If you do get caught out by a pushy or aggressive sales person, it is not too late to change your mind. There are a number of concessions available to pensioners, health care card holders and veterans affairs gold card holders. There are several special concessions which may be relevant to carers depending upon the circumstances of the person they care for. The Annual Electricity Concession is available to help ease cost of living pressures by providing concession cardholders with a discount of 17.5 per cent off household electricity bills. The Medical Cooling Concession provides a 17.5 per cent discount on summer electricity costs for cardholders where a member of the family has a medical condition that affects the body's ability to regulate temperature. In addition to concessions related to electricity, there are several payments and services available to parents or carers who provide daily care to someone with a severe disability or medical condition or someone who is frail or aged. The Carer Payment provides financial support to people who are unable to work in substantial paid employment because they provide full time daily care to someone with a severe disability or medical condition, or to someone who is frail aged. The Carer Allowance is a supplementary payment for parents or carers providing additional daily care to an adult or dependent child with a disability or medical condition, or to someone who is frail aged.
Switch On is an independent source of information and is packed with easy-to-follow tips and tools. Switch On is an initiative from the Victorian Government and the Department of State Development, Business and Innovation. EWOV can take complaints about all electricity, gas and water companies operating in Victoria. EWOV has the power to investigate and resolve disputes between Victorian consumers and their electricity, gas and water companies.
NSW residents are angry about rising utility costs and are expressing their views in record numbers.Price rises, alongside campaigns to reduce gas, electricity and water usage, have prompted an unprecedented rise in official consumer complaints.
CUSTOMER SATISFACTION: Riverina Water County Council appears to have avoided the surge of complaints against utility companies according to figures released by general manager Gerald Pieper (pictured).
The NECF means that a company can apply to the AER to retail electricity in all NECF jurisdictions, whereas they would previously have to apply in each separately.
The rules cover the operational, technical and financial aspects of energy retail (in other words, basically everything) and are there to ensure integrity and reliability of the market as well as for the protection of consumers.
On the second point, there are also a few investors who are okay with a lack of return for a few years whilst a retailer is established. For many new entrant retailers, particularly those with a small base of investors, the exit strategy is a sale within the next five years. This is partly a result of affordability issues, as the price paid by consumers has risen dramatically and people have been struggling to pay their bills.
Although compared with the previous year this increase was noted as ‘modest’, in comparison to the number of electricity complaints to EWON in 2010-2011, it represented an increase of 153 per cent (see page 14: EWON Annual Report 2010-2011).
In 2012-2013, the combined market share of the top three fell by 2 per cent (see page 120: AER, State of the Energy Market 2013).
The financial capacity of electricity retailers will undoubtedly be a focus of energy retail regulators such as the AER, ESC and AEMO. New entrant retailers are beginning to offer hybrid products combining grid energy with solar, lighting, energy management and, of course, storage.
Connor specialises in helping new entrants obtain electricity retail licences and develop compliance programs.

Time of Use metering allows you to take control of the way you use your electricity and the price you will pay for it.  By changing some of your daily routines it provides the flexibility to move your electricity consumption to less expensive time periods. Your electricity is measured using a new electronic interval meter that records electricity consumption in 30 minute intervals and the electricity rates are different in each of the three time-bands, so you pay different rates for your electricity according to the time of day it is used.  The meters that can record this information are sometimes mistakenly called smart meters, but smart meters have more functions and are not generally used. So the price you pay per unit of electricity is less when the demand for electricity is lower, and more when demand is higher. We recognise that for many people, purchasing electricity is a complete mystery, that’s why we would like to help carers make informed choices about their electricity. Their role is to purchase electricity from the electricity generators, then sell it directly to customers like you.
The EWOV can help you with most issues to do with your electricity, gas or water companies.
Charging less for times that experience low demand, such as between midnight and 6am, and charging more during peak demand, such as between 3pm and 9pm. For example you might decide to set your dishwasher, washing machine and dryer to run on a timer during the off peak period. There are many tools available to do this, but two of the simplest are Web Portals and In-home displays. IHDs can help you to easily identify when your electricity use is at a peak and make choices to reduce consumption.
Understanding what is available can help you to navigate any unexpected situations that may arise.
Consumers have 10 days to change their mind; there should be a cancelation form in the pack provided to you by the door to door sales person. The Carer Allowance is free of the income and assets test, is not taxable and can be paid in addition to wages, Carer Payment or any other Centrelink payment.
It will help you take charge of your power bills and keep you informed about changes and improvements to Victoria's energy system. It provides customers with an accessible, informal, speedy and free alternative to formal legal processes. On the third point, new entrant retailers have been watching the market and can see that there has been less volatility in pricing since 2009-2010.
The only experience people have with their electricity retailer is when they receive their bills, or when the lights go out (and when they do, they blame the retailer not the network company). Customers don’t necessarily see a distinction between network components and the retail margin represented in their bill. Smaller retailers operating in niche markets are able to focus on higher margin customers and ensure that those customers are not lost in a legacy billing system. We are also likely to see stronger responses from incumbents to this increasing threat to their business model.
On this page you will find information to help you understand flexible pricing, how to access your electricity use and review what you are paying for electricity. Different retailers will come up with different pricing plans and incentives to attract customers. If you can shift a large portion of your usage to the off peak times you could make a saving on your bill. The benefit of these services is that they are free and do not require any additional equipment. Common Concessions such as the Annual Electricity Concession and the Winter Gas Concession are provided to most holders of the above cards. They also appreciate that this trend is likely to continue, as we have excess generation and falling demand thanks to demand side efficiency and solar (and soon with battery storage). In Victoria in 2012-13, there were 56,795 electricity cases reviewed by the Energy and Water Ombudsman (Victoria) (EWOV), representing an increase of 19 per cent from the previous year (see page 3: EWOV Annual Report 2012-2013). This information may help you to save on your electricity bills and reduce financial stress. If this rate continues it will see two less complaints, going against the state trend.Want to get free, daily news updates?

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