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Compare Energy and Gas in Darwin, Northern Territory

Are you looking to compare electricity and gas plans, prices and providers in Darwin or the Northern Territory? Well, energy in the Northern Territory is a bit different to most other Australian states and territories. This is because, while the electricity market is deregulated regarding competition, there is only one electricity retailer available in the Northern Territory.

Compare and Connect has compiled everything you need to know about how energy in the Northern Territory works.

Generation, Distribution and Retail of Energy in the Northern Territory

Historically, the government-owned company Power and Water Corporation was responsible for all aspects of energy generation, distribution and retail of energy in the Northern Territory. This changed in 2014, when the Power and Water Corporation was split into three different entities: Territory Generation, Power and Water Corporation, and Jacana Energy. Each company is responsible for a different aspect of the supply of energy to residents and businesses in the Northern Territory. 

Generation

Territory Generation is responsible for the production of electricity in the Northern Territory. They produce power in bulk in order to meet the demands of the electricity grid.

Distribution

The Power and Water Corporation is responsible for the distribution or transportation of energy to homes and businesses. As such, they are responsible for the infrastructure associated with the delivering of energy, including power poles and wires. Additionally, they are also responsible for reading meters and sending the meter data retailers require for billing.

Retail

Jacana Energy is currently the only energy retailer in the Northern Territory. They purchase energy in bulk from Territory Generation and then sell it as a range of retail products to customers in order to fulfil varying customer needs and budgets. As such, they act as a ‘shop front’ for the distribution of energy. Jacana Energy is also responsible for customer service.

Deregulation of the Energy Industry in the Northern Territory

States and territories across Australia have, in the past few years, moved to deregulate their energy markets and the Northern Territory is no different. As such, full retail competition was introduced in 2010. However, despite this, there is still only a single energy retailer.

For the most part, deregulation of the energy market signifies a positive change for consumers as the increased competition tends to drive energy rates down as various companies fight to lure in new customers over their competitors. 

Some of the reasons that energy retailers have been hesitant to join the Northern Territory market include:

  • There is some ambiguity regarding pricing due to the lack of a wholesale electricity market
  • Established energy retailers are concerned about entering the Northern Territory market due to differences in their energy regulations compared to those of other Australian states and territories
  • While the competition aspect of the energy market is deregulated, pricing is not, which means that energy retailers are not able to set their own prices
  • Retail energy tariffs are strictly regulated by existing systems

However, while these obstacles may currently prevent new retailers from entering the Northern Territory’s energy market, there is still potential for this to change. The Northern Territory Government has the potential to deconstruct the current regulatory systems even further, as these are primarily responsible for impeding the introduction of new competition.

As such, it is possible that in the future there will be a larger choice of energy retailers in the Northern Territory, which could enable for affordable rates and reduce the cost of your electricity bill.

About Territory Generation

Territory Generation is responsible for producing the electricity that powers the Northern Territory. They were formed in 2014 when Power and Water Corporation underwent structural changes that separated the responsibilities of energy generation, distribution and retail to three different companies.

In order to be a trusted and respected energy generator, their vision is:

  • For safety to be recognised as their highest priority
  • To become known for their reliability, efficiency and availability
  • To exceed customer expectations
  • To be cost effective comparative with other competitors on the market
  • To be at the centre of technical excellence when it comes to energy in the Northern Territory

Additionally, Territory Generation play a key role in the transition to renewable energy. The Northern Territory Government aims to have transitioned to 50% renewable energy by 2030 and Territory Generation is committed to assisting the achievement of this goal through:

  • The safe, efficient and reliable production of electricity services on commercial terms
  • The providing of ancillary services that support the transition to renewable energy

Territory Generation’s power stations include:

  • Channel Island Power Station
  • Weddell Power Station
  • Katherine Power Station
  • Pine Creek Power Station
  • Ron Goodin Power Station
  • Owen Springs Power Station
  • Tennant Creek Power Station
  • Yulara Power Station
  • Kings Canyon Power Station

About Power and Water

As well as distributing electricity, Power and Water also provides water and sewerage services across the Northern Territory. As the only electricity distribution network in the Northern Territory, Power and Water is responsible for distributing energy to more than 244,000 people across the territory.

One of Power and Water’s primary roles is to maintain the infrastructure associated with distributing electricity. As such, they maintain more than 37,500km of poles and towers as well as 10,520km of overhead lines. Power and Water’s networks are required to withstand the extreme weather conditions many parts of the Northern Territory face while meeting increased energy demands.

Via regulated, unregulated and isolated networks, Power and Water control the power supply from generators and the grid to service properties.

In the Northern Territory there are three regulated networks:

  • The Northern Network Grid – Services approximately 150,000 people and includes Darwin, Katherine, Batchelor, Adelaide River, Pine Creek, Mataranka and Larrimah
  • The Tennant Creek Network Grid – Services approximately 7,000 people and includes Tenant Creek
  • The Southern Electrical Grid – Services approximately 28,000 people and includes the Alice Springs area

Power and Water also maintain and manage several smaller, unregulated networks that service towns such as Daly Waters, Ti Tree, Timber Creek, Newcastle Waters and Elliott.

Additionally, through their subsidiary, Indigenous Essential Services, Power and Water distributes electricity to many Aboriginal communities through isolated networks.

Jacana Energy

Jacana Energy is the single energy retailer currently servicing residents and businesses in the Northern Territory. Established, like Territory Generation, in 2014 due to industry reform, Jacana Energy is 100% Northern Territory owned and operated.

Jacana Energy aims to instil trust in their customers through their high-quality customer service, their passionate and talented team, and efficient and innovative products and services.

Jacana Energy offer the following tariffs to their residential customers:

  • Everyday Home – A consistent rate paid on all energy consumed, no matter what time of day energy is used
  • Switch to Six – Charges different prices for energy consumption based on the time of use; peak periods (6am to 6pm on weekdays) charge a higher rate while off-peak periods (6pm to 6am and weekends) charge a lower rate
  • Prepayment Tariff – Electricity is supplied through a pre-paid meter
  • Multipurpose Tariff – For people who work from home, the first 45kWh per day are charged at a lower rate than the kWh used thereafter
  • Feed-in tariff – For homes with solar panels, you can receive credit for the excess power your panels feed into the grid

Smart and Prepayment Meters

Smart meters are being rolled out across the country, but the Northern Territory is one of two states (the other being Western Australia) that does not require the replacement of a manual electricity meter with a smart meter. Nonetheless, you can choose to have a smart meter (also known as an electronic meter) installed. In particular, these meters are necessary for PV metering and time of use metering.

Smart meters can help you to understand your electricity usage and therefore help you to make an informed decision when choosing your electricity tariff.

Prepayment meters are unique to the Northern Territory and allow customers to pre-pay for their energy, meaning you don’t have to deal with electricity bills. While there is an installation fee and the rates tend to be slightly higher, you only have to pay for the amount of electricity you use and there is no supply charge. If you opt for a prepayment meter, there are three types: urban e-token meter, remote e-token smart meter, and ampy wide and narrow mouth meters.

Energy Concessions in the Northern Territory

There are a range of concessions available for residents of the Northern Territory to help pay their energy bills.

Electricity concessions are available for members of the Northern Territory Concessions Scheme and who rent or own their home, and are thus responsible for paying the electricity bill at their residential address. These concessions are applied to the eligible member’s electricity bill. Eligible members are able to receive up to $1,200 each year for electricity concession.

Renewable Energy in the Northern Territory

While in the past, prior to 1986, oil and diesel were the primary sources of energy generation in the Northern Territory, there has since been a shift in favour of natural gas. As well as this being a more sustainable option, this is, in part, because the Northern Territory homes as much as 200 trillion cubic feet of prospective shale gas resources.

Additionally, the Northern Territory Government has set the target to achieve 50% renewable energy by 2030 which, while ambitious, is achievable. This, ideally, will be achieved from grid connected installations, such as rooftop photovoltaic (PV) generation and through all Aboriginal communities being supplied by Indigenous Essential Services.

As well as being beneficial to the environment, the government has also recognised that the renewable energy industry offers economic development and jobs growth and, as a result, has established the Office of Sustainable Energy within the Department of Trade, Business and Innovation. This new office is responsible for coordinating energy policy as well as the implementation of renewable energy in order to achieve the government’s renewable energy goals.

However, one of the key challenges that the government faces in order to achieve their goal is designing policies that enables new renewable energy investment that delivers lower energy costs while minimising the taxpayer costs associated with lower utilisation of already-existing publicly owned generator assets.

Solar Power in the Northern Territory

The Northern Territory is, in many ways, ideal for solar power systems due to its receiving of some of the highest irradiation levels in the world.

However, while the Northern Territory used to have some of the highest feed-in tariff rates in Australia, as of April 5, 2020, the government has announced a new standard feed in tariff. Solar panel systems that were installed prior to this announcement are still able to benefit from the previous feed in tariff (26.05 cents per kWh), but more recent solar panel systems will receive the new rate of 8.3 cents per kWh. 

Unlike other Australian states, as there is only one electricity retailer in the Northern Territory, residents with solar panel systems are unable to shop around for the best-value feed in tariff rates.