Answers to frequently asked questions

What is the difference between a distributor, and a retailer?

Once electricity is generated by the generator, it is then supplied to different regions / geographical locations and this is the responsibility of a distributor. A distributor is the one responsible for maintaining the electricity poles, wires, gas pipelines etc. In other words they take care of the entire physical infrastructure involved in sending electricity / gas to your home / business.

On the other hand, a retailer is the one that buys electricity / gas from the generators and further sells it to you at a charge mutually decided by the retailer and electricity regulator. So the electricity / gas bill that you get is from the retailer you are with. In a deregulated market as in VIC, SA, NSW and QLD it is possible for customers to switch their retailer, but by doing that they still remain with the same distributor as far as they do not change their address. So irrespective of any distribution network you may be, you have the option to choose a retailer of your choice.

What does changing my retailer mean?

When you change your electricity / gas retailer, it simply means that the company billing you will change, not your distributor. In other words you still get the same electricity you were getting before the switch and also the emergency number that you dial for any faults or emergency remains unchanged as it belongs to your distributor.

What things should I keep in mind while switching retailers?

Switching between retailers might save you a considerable amount on your utility bills but there are a few things to be kept in mind while looking for a better deal. Few are numerated below:

  1. Check the daily supply charge / charge to be connected to the grid. This component is irrespective of the usage and is generally calculated on per day basis over the billing period.
  2. Check the electricity usage charges. Being self explanatory it is the charge for using electricity / gas and is generally calculated as cents / dollar per KWh and cents / dollar per MJ respectively.
  3. Have a clear understanding of the contract term and the early termination fee to break the contract if any.
  4. If you hold a state or Commonwealth concession card you might be eligible for further concession on the bills. Find out from the retailer how a concession card affects your electricity offer.
  5. Have a look at the payment options available to pay the bill for e.g. BPAY, credit card, Australia Post etc. and see that your preferred payment option is there.
  6. Have a look at the offer summary so that you read through the entire terms and conditions and all the fine print as well.

How long does it take to switch over to another retailer?

When you accept a new electricity offer from a different retailer, by law you are given a 10 business day cooling off period for you to be completely satisfied with the new offer and also run through the checklist a mentioned above. Even if you reconsider your decision during the cooling off period, there will be no early termination fee applicable to you, provided you cancel the offer with the retailer. Generally the switch over takes up to 90 days to come in effect as the meter reading is generally done every 90 days but with the smart meters and special read by some retailers, it is worth checking with the company or in the offer summary that is given to you.

How do I know which retailer is best for me?

With so many options available in the market, it sure is a daunting task to choose a retailer that best suits your requirement. For this only reason, there are comparison service companies like Smart Utilities that have a panel of retailers so you can compare your rates and discounts and find out which retailer best suits your electricity requirement.

How does switching retailers affect my solar feed in tariff?

If you have Solar panels installed, it is suggested that you speak to an expert before taking a final decision. There are chances that your Solar feed in might change for better or for worse when you change your retailers. Comparison service companies like Smart Utilities have experts that deal with solar feed in tariff and it is advised that they may be consulted before switching retailers.