Compare Energy and Gas in Perth, Western Australia
Are you looking to compare electricity and gas plans, prices and providers in Perth or Western Australia? Well, in Western Australia, the energy system works a bit differently to the other Australian states and territories. This is because, unlike the other states, the electricity industry in Western Australia is still regulated. As such, there are a lot of limitations and regulations that prevent new retailers entering into the industry, and where they can service.
Compare and Connect can help you understand how the energy industry in Western Australia works, whether you’re able to choose your energy retailer, and provide you with information on how you can reduce your energy bill if you’re a resident of Western Australia.
How the Electricity Industry in Western Australia Works
In Western Australia, according to the Department of Finance, the majority of electricity is generated via coal and gas. While diesel and renewable source, including solar, biomass and wind, produce some energy in Western Australia, it is a comparatively small share.
The Western Australian Government owns three companies that are responsible for the production of energy for the state. These companies produce energy, which is then sold by energy retailers to residents and businesses. These three companies are:
- Horizon Power – Responsible for generating, distributing and selling power in the regions outside of the South West Interconnected System
- Synergy – Responsible for generating and selling power within the South West Interconnected System
- Western Power – Responsible for the construction, maintenance and operation of the power chain infrastructure within the South West Interconnected System
The South West Interconnected System
The South West Interconnected System (SWIS) covers the highest populated areas of Western Australia and is an electricity distribution network that is powered by Western Power. The area that the SWIS encompasses includes Perth, Bunbury, Albany, Kalbarri and Kalgoorlie. Customers within this network may be able to choose their electricity retailer.
Other than the SWIS, there are four other electricity distribution networks in Western Australia: South Region, North Region, Gascyone and Mid-West, and the North West Interconnected System. Most customers within these regions are unable to choose their electricity retailer.
Regulation of the Western Australian Electricity Industry
While most other states have moved away from regulating their electricity industry, the Western Australian Government continues to enforce regulations to their energy sector.
In general, deregulation of the electricity industry is a good thing for consumers. This is because deregulation allows more competitors to enter the market and set their own prices. The increased competition generally drives prices down as retailers vie for customers’ patronage. As such, the regulation of the Western Australian electricity industry means that there is less choice for consumers and prices are fairly consistent across the board.
There are, however, some benefits to this system. For example, as noted by the Western Australia Department of Finance, industry regulation means that Horizon Power and Synergy must charge consumers with the same rates, no matter where they live. So, even though the price of providing rural or remote areas with power is more expensive than metropolitan areas, people who live in rural or remote areas aren’t penalised on the basis of their location.
Contestable and Non-Contestable Customers
Residents of Western Australia fall into one of two categories: contestable or non-contestable. Contestable customers are able to choose their energy retailer, while non-contestable customers are unable to choose. These categories are only relevant for customers living within the SWIS as Horizon Power is the only energy retailer for most areas outside of the SWIS.
Non-contestable customers are those who live in the SWIS and use less than 50 megawatt hours (mWh) of energy per year. Most residential energy consumers, and many small businesses, fall into this category as the average household only consumes 6 mWh in a year. All non-contestable customers in the SWIS have their energy supplied by Synergy.
Businesses that consumer more than 50 mWh in a year are contestable and are therefore able to choose their energy retailer. The nine retailers they are able to choose from are:
- Advanced Energy Resources Retail
- Amanda Energy
- Blue Star Energy
- Alinta Energy
- Clear Energy
- Perth Energy
- Horizon Power
Compare Energy Perth – Synergy Tariffs
If you live in the SWIS and are a non-contestable customer, you don’t get a choice regarding who supplies your electricity; Synergy is your energy supplier. However, you do get to choose your tariff. Synergy offers the following tariffs for residential customers:
- Home Plan (A1) Tariff – This tariff charges the same rate at all times of the day, throughout all seasons; doesn’t require a smart meter
- Smart Home Plan – Includes a time of use tariff, meaning you pay lower rates during off-peak periods and higher rates during peak periods; requires a smart meter
- Home Business Plan (K1) Tariff – This plan provides you with a single bill for both your home and business for customers who work from home; the first 20 units of energy are charged at the residential anytime rate while any energy used thereafter is charged at the business anytime rate.
Choosing the tariff that’s right for you will depend on your individual circumstances. However, installing a smart meter can provide you with the information required to help you make an informed decision.
Smart Meters in Western Australia
Smart meters – also known as advanced meters – are in the process of being rolled out throughout Western Australia. These meters work by recording your energy use every 30 minutes and sending this information to your energy retailer, who is then able to provide you with your energy use data via an online platform or app.
While it is not yet compulsory to have a smart meter in Western Australia, some energy plans that include a time of use tariff (such as Synergy’s Smart Home Plan) require them. Additionally, smart meters can help consumers to take full advantage of time of use tariffs by helping them to understand their energy consumption patterns.
As well as providing consumers and retailers with in-depth data and information, smart meters can also be useful for early detection of faults and supply issues. Additionally, they can help to improve the safety, efficiency and reliability of energy supplies and, when rolled out on a large scale, can help to increase operational savings.
Western Australia Electricity Market Review
In 2014, the Western Australia Electricity Market Review was launched by the former Public Utilities Office in order to examine the electricity generation structures in Western Australia, as well as the wholesale and retail sectors in the SWIS. Additionally, this review also examined the incentives for industry participants to make efficient investments and minimise costs.
There were two phases of the Western Australia Electricity Market Review:
- Phase 1 – Assessed the strengths and weaknesses of the existing energy industry structure, market institutions and regulatory arrangements, and examined the reform options that would better enable the achievement of Electricity Market Review objectives.
- Phase 2 – Provided a detailed design of a set of reforms and implementation arrangements.
The aims of this review are to:
- Attract more private electricity retailers to the Western Australia market
- Minimise and mitigate the industry’s exposure to risks associated with the electricity sector
- Reduce the expenses associated with electricity generation and distribution in the state
So, while the Western Australia energy industry remains regulated, these objectives help to encourage more competition, which will ultimately enable consumers to have more choice regarding their electricity retailers and plans.
Wholesale Electricity Market
The Wholesale Electricity Market in Western Australia commenced operation in 2006 and applies to the SWIS. It is run by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). Through the facilitating of competition and private investment. The Wholesale Electricity Market allows greater flexibility to generators and wholesale purchasers of electricity regarding how they procure and sell electricity, and who is involved in these transactions.
The primary objectives of the Wholesale Electricity Market are:
- The promotion of the economically efficient, reliable and safe production and supply of energy services in the SWIS
- The encouragement of competition among generators and retailers in the SWIS, facilitated by the increased ease of entry by competitors into the Western Australia energy industry
- To avoid market discrimination against energy options and technologies that employ renewable resources or reduce greenhouse gas emissions
- In the long-term, to reduce the costs of energy supplied to consumers in the SWIS
- The encouragement of taking measures that control energy consumption and when energy is used
Western Australia Electricity Rebates
There are a number of electricity rebates available in Western Australia to help low income residents pay their energy bills. These rebates include:
- Energy Assistance Payment – Provides an annual payment of $305.25 to eligible concession card holders to help pay for their electricity costs.
- Dependent Child Rebate – Provides further financial assistance for eligible concession card holders who have dependent children by reducing their electricity bill. For one child, the payment amount is $320, as well as $84 for every additional child.
- Air Conditioning Rebate – Helps to subsidise the cost of operating air conditioner for households located in areas of high heat discomfort (north of the 26th Parallel of South Latitude or north of the 50-day Relative Strain Index line). The rebate amounts to $59.75 per month.
- Hardship Utility Grant Scheme (HUGS) – Designed for Western Australian utility customers who are unable to pay their utility bills due to experiencing financial hardship.
- Account Establishment Fee Rebate – Eligible cardholders are able to receive a one-off fee of $33.80 to cover the costs associated with setting up a new energy account.
Renewable Energy in Western Australia
Western Australia has historically performed poorly in regard to the production of renewable energy, particularly when compared to other Australian states and territories. However, more recently there has been impetus for investment in renewable energy in Western Australia. In particular, declining prices of renewable energy, particularly solar PV, as well as the fact that Western Australia has some of the best wind and solar resources in the world all indicate that Western Australia should start to take advantage of more sustainable energy solutions.
The Government encourages the installation and use of solar panels through the solar panel rebate, which can reduce the cost of a solar system by up to $3,800. Additionally, Western Australia energy suppliers offer solar feed-in tariffs, though the rate of these tariffs vary according to location. Typically, solar feed-in tariff rates in Western Australia range from 7.1 cents per kWh to 51 cents per kWh.
Because of the amount of sunshine the state receives, high solar rebates and competitive solar panel prices, the payback on solar power systems in Western Australia are the fastest in the country. While payback timeframes vary according to your personal energy usage habits and your individual property, the typical timeframe to payback a solar system in Western Australia is four to five years.