Power bill discounts worth hundreds on offer as electricity providers feel the heat
Power price woes in the ACT have prompted energy providers to spruik schemes that can shave up to 25 per cent off electricity bills.
ActewAGL in Canberra has been under pressure to offer relief to local consumers facing significant price hikes.
The ACT Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission recently announced increases of up to 14.29 per cent from July 1.
It cited a higher wholesale electricity price and compliance with Commonwealth green schemes as causes for the rise.
The decision has given providers the power to raise the average household electricity bill by $300 per year.
It sparked concerns that low-income households would have their power switched off if they couldn’t pay their bills.
Ayesha Razzaq, general manager of ActewAGL’s retail arm, said measures had been put in place ahead of the July 1 changes.
“We’re also working with the ACT Government to contribute $500,000 to an energy support fund,” she said.
In competition with Origin Energy, ActewAGL will offer a 25 per cent discount on power bills under certain conditions:
- Direct debit auto-payments must be set up
- Customers have to register online
- Bills will only be sent electronically
- Discounts will only apply for 12 months
Origin Energy has already put in place a similar scheme for its ACT residential customers.
Canberra’s third major power provider Energy Australia has offered to cut 11 per cent off local prices.
Varying discounts have been offered in other states if customers sign up for direct debit payments.
Direct debit discounts (excluding NT, Tas, WA)
Source: ActewAGL, AGL and Origin Energy
Ms Razzaq said the scheme was designed to reduce administrative costs for the provider.
“That 25 per cent discount from July 1 equates to approximately a $500 saving on your yearly bill,” she said.
Energy Minister Shane Rattenbury wrote to ActewAGL urging it to cut power prices. (ABC News: Alkira Reinfrank)
Origin Energy recently announced there would be no change in pricing for the ACT and NSW.
Just over the border, AGL has announced a 0.3 per cent decrease across the board for power prices in NSW.
There has been no official decision on 2018-19 power prices for ActewAGL customers.
Reading the fine print
Consumer group CHOICE has recommended changing plans at least once a year to get the lowest power bills.
Spokesman Tom Godfrey said after 12 months providers might roll customers onto general contracts with higher costs.
“When the discount period runs out or if you miss a payment, you don’t want to end up paying through the nose,” he said.
“Electricity has remained the top cost-of-living concern for Australian consumers since 2014.”
ActewAGL customers under government green schemes risk voiding their old contracts. (Supplied: iStockphoto)
Customers who signed up under other rebate policies with ActewAGL have raised concerns the new scheme would void old contracts.
A grandfathered policy under the ACT Electricity Feed-in (Renewable Energy Premium) Act 2008 allowed up to 20 years of discounts for customers.
Customers have complained that the older policy could not be rolled in with the 25 per cent direct debit discount when they called the provider.
ActewAGL has been contacted for further comment.