New tools to help you choose an energy plan – 1 July 2019 Energy Reforms

From 1 July 2019 you’ll have some new tools to help you find a better deal on your electricity and/or gas.

To use these tools you need to know what they are, and how they can help you.

Q: How can I compare different energy plans?

Victorian Energy Fact Sheets

The Government price comparison web-site, Victorian Energy Compare, is always a good place to go if you’re looking for the best value energy plan.

From 1 July, you’ll also have access to standard fact sheets for you to compare different energy plans, to make it easier to compare apples with apples.

The fact sheets will include a handy table like the one below to make it easy for you to decide which plan is best for you (NOTE – This is an example only, figures will vary!):

How can I use this tool?

All energy retailers will make the fact sheets easy to find online, and send you one within five days if you ask for one.

Q: How can I get the best deal from my energy company?

The Best Offer Notice

Over the next few months a box will start to appear close to the “Amount Due” figure on your bills, along with these words:

‘Could you save money on another plan? Based on your past usage, our [plan name] may cost you up to $X less per year than your current plan.’

How do I use this new tool?

When you receive a Best Offer Notice, and decide you want to take up the offer you’ll need to contact your retailer to ask to be put on that deal. If you don’t, you’ll remain on your current energy plan.

If you’re already on the Best Offer your retailer has for you, they will  confirm that in the Notice and direct you to Victorian Energy Compare where you can compare your plan with plans at other retailers.

Unfortunately, if you live in an embedded network you will not receive Best Offer Notices.

What else can I do?

Remember, you can look for a better plan anytime by visiting the Government price comparison web-site, Victorian Energy Compare.

Q: How do I know when my energy price is changing?

The Bill Change Notice

If the rates of your energy plan are about to change, or if your discount is about to expire, your energy company will write to you to give advance notice of the change at least five business days before it happens.

In the same notice they’ll also be required to provide you with a Best Offer Notice.

How do I use this new tool?

If you want to avoid a price change or find another offer with similar benefits you will need to contact your retailer, or another retailer and switch plans.

Again, residents in embedded networks will not receive Bill Change Notices.

Q: How can I be sure I’ve understood everything properly?

Clear Advice

When you ring your retailer about changing plans, they must provide you with Clear Advice.

Clear Advice means that if there are aspects of an energy plan which you may have misunderstood or overlooked, they will bring those things to your attention and make the costs clear.

Your retailer must examine your specific circumstances and energy usage and tell you if they have a plan which they think would be better for you, and why.

Q: What is a ‘fair’ price for electricity?

The Victorian Default Offer

The Victorian Default Offer, or ‘VDO’, as it will often be called is a new electricity plan where the price is set by the industry regulator instead of your electricity company. The VDO is designed to be a ‘fair’ price of electricity.

If you are on a standing offer on 1 July 2019, you will automatically be moved onto the VDO and will start paying less, straight away. 

How do I use this tool?

The VDO will not necessarily be the cheapest offer in the market, but it may be less than the plan you’re currently on.

If you’re not on a standing offer but would like to be moved onto the VDO, you will need to request that your electricity retailer put you on the VDO. If your retailer is prepared to supply you with electricity, they must offer you the VDO.

If your retailer decides they no longer wish to supply you with electricity, you can go to another retailer called the local area retailer.

You can find out who your local area retailer is by contacting your energy distributor. If you’re not sure who your energy distributor is you can find out here: https://www.energy.vic.gov.au/electricity/electricity-distributors

Your local area retailer must provide you with the VDO, if you request it.

Please note, there is no VDO for gas (only electricity) and if you live in an embedded network and are not billed by a licensed retailer, you will not yet be able to access the VDO.

VDO Tariff Rates

Table 1 – VDO Tariff rates for Residential customers (GST inclusive) applicable from 1 July 2019.

Table 2 – VDO Tariff rates for Small Business customers (GST inclusive) applicable from 1 July 2019

Related content

Fact Sheet 42

What is a best offer?

High bills
A best offer is the cheapest generally available offer from your energy retailer compared to your current plan.
Fact Sheet 15

Switching energy retailers and plans

Getting connected and changing energy company, High bills
Information for if you’re thinking of changing your energy company, or if you’re contacted by an energy sales representative