Who Has The Cheapest Electricity Plans For Solar Owners?

Winner's podium showing cheapest electricity plans for 6.5kW solar owners -- Amaysim, Origin, and Energy Australia.

The cheapest electricity plans for 6.5kW solar owners (with median self-consumption) are Amaysim, Origin, and Energy Australia.

The three most populous states — and South Australia — all have electricity retailer choice.  This gives people the freedom to choose the electricity plan that’s best for them, while electricity retailers do their best to stop that from happening. They don’t want you getting the cheapest electricity available, so they offer plans that are confusing and impossible for the casual consumer to easily compare.

Fortunately, there’s no need to panic.  I’m going to help you out by determining the lowest cost electricity plan for solar households in every capital with retailer choice.  It took a lot of hard work, but when it comes to helping you I’m not afraid to let Finn do most of it.  I used  the retailer comparison tool he created to — hopefully — find the most cost effective plans.

electrity rate retailer comparison tool

You can use it yourself and enter details from your bills to personalise the results.  It doesn’t show time-of-use tariffs, but most households with solar panels are better off without them.  Be aware it can only use information retailers make available, so we can’t be certain it’s always correct or that plans won’t have annoying conditions tacked on.

I’m even going to save you the effort of using the comparison tool by working out the lowest cost electricity plan for a typical solar household in all states where you have a choice.  I’ll assume the most commonly installed solar power system size today, 6.5 kilowatts, and an average electricity consumption.  If your consumption is less than average, don’t worry, the results don’t change.  Provided you are exporting more energy to the grid than you import, it makes little difference.

If you have a small solar power system this can change the lowest cost retailer, so I’ll also work out the cheapest plan for households with 3 kilowatts of solar.

Who Has Electricity Retailer Choice?

There is retailer choice throughout New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and the ACT.  It’s only in the south-east of Queensland, but that covers most of the state’s population.  Capitals with retailer choice are:

  • Adelaide
  • Brisbane
  • Canberra
  • Melbourne
  • Sydney

Tasmania technically has retailer choice, but it’s not much of a choice.  There are only two retailers and if you have solar panels, just go with 1st Energy (the state’s second energy retailer – oh the irony) as they have a higher solar feed-in tariff but otherwise appear the same as the other retailer.

Variables To Consider

To find the best retail plan for typical solar households, for each capital I’ll need to determine:

  • Solar power system size
  • Annual solar electricity generation
  • Average self consumption of solar energy
  • Average household electricity consumption

I was going to be lazy and not put much effort into working out the characteristics of a typical solar household, but then Solar Analytics very kindly gave us some interesting figures on solar electricity self-consumption.  They are an energy monitoring company so I can be certain their numbers are spot on and it would be a shame not to use them.  But this did mean I had to make the effort to also get good figures for average household electricity consumption.  After all, I can’t allow good numbers to come into contact with vague ones.  Otherwise they could contract statistical imprecision and that would — probably — be bad.

Assume A 6.5 Kilowatt Solar System

I am going to assume a typical solar household has a 6.5 kilowatt system installed.  This is around the most commonly installed size at the moment.  It’s also close to the 6.66 kilowatt maximum the majority of households can easily install without complications.

Solar Generation By Capital

The United States has blessed the world by making the PVWatts site freely available to all.  (Whatever you do, don’t tell Donald Trump that Mexicans can use it for free.)  I’ve used it to calculate how many kilowatt-hours a 6.5 kilowatt solar system is likely to generate in each capital we’re looking at over a year.  I have allowed for the fact that most solar power systems don’t have all their panels perfectly arranged for optimal output by reducing generation by 7% from what it would be if all panels were facing north.1  So 6.5 kilowatt systems in the given locations should be producing around this many kilowatt-hours annually:

Annual solar electricity generation - 6.5kw system

Solar Electricity Self Consumption

Savings on electricity bills depend upon how much solar electricity you consume yourself.  If no one’s home all day you’ll generally have low self-consumption, as most of your solar electricity will be sent into the grid for a feed-in tariff. If power-hungry people are home during the day then solar self-consumption will be high.

I was pleasantly surprised to find the figures Solar Analytics sent us on self-consumption were higher than I expected.  For systems sized 6-8 kilowatts, median self-consumption percentages were:

  • South Australia  28%
  • Queensland 40%
  • ACT  27% ?
  • Victoria  31%
  • NSW  34%

This is much better than the conservative 20% I generally use.  Queensland’s is exceptionally good at 40%.  This is likely due to high electricity consumption in summer and less seasonal variation in solar electricity output thanks to dry and sunny winters.

I put a question mark next to the ACT’s figure of 27% because the sample size is too small to have confidence in it.  My hunch is it should be considerably higher, but rather than guess I’ll simply replace it with the figure for South Australia as the climate and electricity consumption in that state’s main population centre is similar to the ACT.  This boosts their self-consumption by 1 percentage point to 28%.

The figures are for states and not capitals, but as the majority of solar power systems are in and around capitals they should still be fairly accurate.  I’m using the results for solar power systems sized 6-8 kilowatts, but the large majority of those systems will be from 6 to 6.6 kilowatts as 6.7-8 kilowatt systems are rare.

Solar Analytics users may be richer than the average solar owner2 and this could mean they have higher electricity consumption that boosts solar self-consumption rates above the median.  It is also likely they use the information provided by their Solar Analytics energy monitor to increase self-consumption.  However, my beliefs about human nature — specifically laziness — make me suspect this will only boost self consumption mildly.

Solar Self Consumption & Export Figures

By using the solar generation and self-consumption figures we can determine how much solar electricity a typical household will self-consume and how much they will export to the grid for a feed-in tariff:

Solar electricity self-consumption and exports

Average Electricity Consumption

I wanted to find the average electricity consumption for homes without solar panels, but I couldn’t find any up to date information I trusted.3  I ended up using figures from a 2014 ACIL Allen report.  These should have declined slightly over the past 5 years due to improving energy efficiency, but I expect they’re still reasonably accurate.

Because only Canberra and Melbourne have a majority of homes with gas, I have used the figure for gas households in those cities and non-gas households for the others.  I’ve used the average consumption for 3-person households because the average Australian household has 2.6 people and that’s closer to 3 people than 2 and I really dislike dealing with bits of people.

The graph below shows average grid electricity consumption for 3-person households before and after solar self-consumption is accounted for:

Average Australian household annual grid electricity use

Now I have household grid consumption and solar export figures I can work out the lowest cost electricity plans.  As the homes we are looking at all export considerably more solar electricity to the grid than they import from it, electricity plans with a high feed-in tariffs are likely to be the most cost-effective.  But first I need to warn you that good looking feed-in tariffs aren’t always available.

Origin’s Highest Feed-In Tariff Isn’t Available To Sensible Households

Web sites for comparing electricity plans, including our own, can only make use of information retailers provide to them.  The information Origin Energy provides makes it appear their highest solar feed-in tariff is available to everyone, but it only applies for a limited period to people who buy a solar system from them.  This means you have to ignore their highest feed-in tariff on comparison sites and only consider Origin plans with lower feed-in tariffs.4

Retailers May Have Inverter Or Kilowatt-Hour Limits

Retailer plans may have limits on the size of the solar inverter they allow.  For example Amaysim can limit you to a 5 kilowatt inverter, which means you can have a maximum of 6.66 kilowatts of panels.5

Another thing to watch out for are plans that limit your solar feed-in tariff by the number of kilowatt-hours you export.  For example, depending on location, Energy Locals can reduce their feed-in tariff if you export more than 15 kilowatt-hours in a day.  If you don’t have a smart meter it’s not possible to tell what your daily exports are and an average has to be used, but in summer months most solar power systems will average will over 15 kilowatt-hours of exports a day.

Lowest Cost Electricity Plans By Capital with 6.6 kilowatts

After crunching the numbers I have been able to determine the lowest cost electricity retailer plans in capitals for homes with 6.5 kilowatts of solar and average electricity consumption are provided by only three companies — Amaysim, Origin Energy, and Energy Australia:

  • Adelaide:  Amaysim with 22 cent feed-in tariff.  Annual cost $464
  • Brisbane:  Energy Australia with 16.1 cent feed-in tariff.  Annual benefit $59 Credit
  • Canberra:  Origin Energy with 15 cent feed-in tariff.  Annual bill $209
  • Melbourne:  Amaysim with 18 cent feed-in tariff.  Annual bill $428
  • Sydney:  Origin Energy with 21 cent feed-in tariff.  Annual bill $355

I find it interesting that Origin Energy and Energy Australia — Australia’s largest and third largest energy retailers — are now the lowest cost retailer for many solar households when not long ago it was often AGL — Australia’s second largest retailer.  I suspect they are taking turns in winning over solar households and then relying on consumer loyalty and inertia to fatten their profits when they change to no longer being the most cost-effective retailer for them.

Amaysim also did well, providing the lowest cost plan in two of the five capitals6

Note that, thanks to high self-consumption, the Brisbane household is in credit and comes out $59 ahead each year.

If your electricity consumption is less than average it should make no difference to the results.  Provided more electricity is exported to the grid than imported, the lowest cost retailer is unlikely to change.  If your solar power system is over 6.66 kilowatts and you have typical consumption, the most cost effective plan for you will almost always be the one with the highest feed-in tariff you can get.

Update 12:40 pm:  I originally had Origin Energy as the most cost effective plan in Brisbane but in the comments Chris pointed out they only offer a maximum feed-in tariff of 15 cents to normal households.  I’m afraid Origin fooled me.  While I had eliminated their highest feed-in tariff their second highest feed-in tariff wasn’t available either. 

Lowest Cost Plan With 3 Kilowatts Of Rooftop Solar

If you have a small solar power system it can change which plan will be cheapest for you.  For simplicity’s sake I will keep all my previous assumptions the same apart from reducing the solar system size down to 3 kilowatts.  This means the homes will be consuming more grid electricity and exporting less solar electricity.  The lowest cost retailers in this case are:

  • Adelaide:  Energy Locals 15.5 cent feed-in tariff.  Annual bill $1,624
  • Brisbane:  Energy Australia with 16.1 cent feed-in tariff.  Annual bill $1,026
  • Canberra:  Origin Energy with 15 cent feed-in tariff.  Annual bill $1,609
  • Melbourne:  Amaysim with 18 cent feed-in tariff.  Annual bill $1,332
  • Sydney:  Discover Energy with 11.5 cent feed-in tariff.  Annual bill $1,732

While the cheapest plans in Brisbane and Canberra are still from Origin and from Amaysim in Melbourne, it has changed to Energy Locals in Adelaide while in Sydney Discover Energy is the lowest cost standard tariff.  However, it is possible Powerclub’s non-standard tariff based on wholesale electricity prices could be better.

With smaller solar power systems there is usually less difference between electricity plans.  For example, Red Energy in Brisbane only came to a few dollars more than Origin, so if you have a smaller system don’t be too surprised if you crunch the numbers and come up with something different from the retailers above.

Go Big!

Looking at the difference between electricity bills for 3 kilowatt and 6.5 kilowatt solar systems you can see that getting a larger system can really pay for itself. No wonder only 3.5% of SolarQuotees ask for 3 kW systems.

Don’t Let Them Rip You Off!

You may have reasons for not wanting to go with the lowest cost retail plan available and that’s fine.  It’s also possible to bargain with retailers and get a better deal than what they normally offer.  Additionally, it’s always possible that one of the innovative new electricity retailers that don’t offer standard tariffs such as Powerclub or Amber Electric will turn out to be cost-effective once you’ve crunched the numbers.  But if your goal is to save money, then the retailer plans above are likely to be the best for you.

Personally, I say don’t pay electricity retailers any more than you have to.  It simply makes me furious to think of extra money needlessly going to waste lining the pockets of suit-wearing, BMW-driving, latte-sipping smarmy bastards.  I sincerely believe it should instead be going into the pockets of T-shirt-wearing, horse-wrangling, Pepsi-swilling sarcastic bastards like me.

Footnotes

  1. While it makes very little difference, I’ve also allowed for the panel capacity being 30% larger than the inverter capacity.
  2. they may also be better looking & smarter too
  3. I thought I could use the Australian Government Energy Made Easy Benchmark site but it is obviously broken as it gives me the same answer regardless of whether a household has gas heating or not. I wondered if they used the same crack team that programmed Solar Victoria’s portal. But then I realised that I didn’t have to scan my face to get a result – so it must have been coded elsewhere.
  4. Update 8:18 a.m.: When working out the lowest cost electricity plans I have ignored all Origin plans that require you to buy a solar system from them.
  5. Some people check if a plan allows their inverter capacity and then attempt to get it anyway if it doesn’t.  I certainly don’t condone this behavior, but good luck if you try it.
  6. After crunching the numbers on the SolarQuotes tool, Finn chose Amaysim for his 6.6kW Fronius/Winaico system. He tells me he is very happy with them as a retailer
About Ronald Brakels

Many years ago now, Ronald Brakels was born in Toowoomba. He first rose to international prominence when his township took up a collection to send him to Japan, which was the furthest they could manage with the money they raised. He became passionately interested in environmental matters upon his return to Australia when the local Mayor met him at the airport and explained it was far too dangerous for him to return to Toowoomba on account of climate change and mutant attack goats. Ronald then moved to a property in the Adelaide Hills where he now lives with his horse, Tonto 23.

Comments

  1. Hi Ronald.
    Super interesting, thanks! Curious to know – do the sums above factor in the daily supply charge? (Which I’ve noticed varies between retailers.j
    Thanks!

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Yep, it includes daily supply charges. (This is just one thing that makes comparing plans difficult.)

  2. Thanks again Ronald for another helpful article. It’s certainly been my experience that energy retailers make it impossible to compare plans. Personally I think there are other considerations, at least as important as cost, to take into account when making the decision.

    I like and use Energy Locals because of their stated goals of “Cheaper Energy, Great Service, Carbon Offsets and Zero Hassle”. I have been with them for a couple of years now and I have found them to be great to deal with, fairly priced and they supply 100% carbon offsets (Green Power).

    So for me they tick all three of the triple-bottom-line boxes… they are ethically, economically and environmentally friendly. They might not be the very cheapest but they suit me just fine and I highly recommend them to other solar owners.

  3. Excellent analysis, Ronald. Sadly, WA’s miserable FiT doesn’t rate a mention. So low, it’s not worth inclusion. While governments perceive renewables as ‘middle class welfare’ and are ideologically opposed to citizens milking _their_ cash cows, little will change… .

  4. All the suppliers use the figure of 3900 kWh as the yearly household electricity consumption for their comparisons, your numbers are much higher, Your numbers are based on a 2014 report, were you able to ascertain the basis for the ‘magic’ number of 3900 for theirs?

    In view of the fact that Origin only offers their highest solar rebate to Origin installations then your conclusion that they are the cheapest is not much use to all of us readers of your posts in Brisbane/Canberra/Sydney who already have a ~6.5 kW solar installation :-(.
    Can you do an update to include us? 🙂

    Thanks for your informative insights – always enjoy reading them.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      I couldn’t say where the 3,900 kWh figure comes from. It may simply be the average household grid consumption for your area and so would be reduced rooftop solar.

      I have ignored all Origin plans that require you to purchase a solar system from them. I’ll add a note to the article making that clear.

    • Currently getting 20c fit from origin using my own system. Northern coast NSW. Pocketing about $1000 a year from my aging 10KVA system. Daily usage variations and cost of electricity per KWh from them are not significant as the production during the day far exceeds consumption.
      Biggest stress with such a generous fit is the disincentive to use electricity at any time.

  5. Great read as always.

    I am in Adelaide, metropolitan area and I note that Anaheim when requesting a quote is not available in my area. This should be added of course Sean exception above that may be obvious but is still a fact.
    Great work from the team there…,.enjoy.

  6. A handy tool.
    I went through this process a year ago in SA for a low use, high export scenario and the only way I could tell was with a DIY comparison spreadsheet.

    At the time the winner was AGL and I locked in for 2 years with a switch bonus of $100 to boot. It appears post July 1, AGL has dropped discounts and FiTs.

    Keying in last year’s import-export figures the tool brings up Origin’s 23c FiT which I assume is for solar buyers only, then the next best was Amaysin.

    St Vincent De Paul also has a pretty good comparison spreadsheet.

    • The problem doesn’t lie with the figures Rod. It lies with the fact that the figures can be changed at will … but not by YOU. Even the fluctuations in world economics could have you paying 147% of your income for grid-power once ‘locked in’. (thank you Paul Keating!).
      If one is going to rely on that sort of thing, one should demand that ALL figures by cited as percentages…..(Try locking in the banks to paying you, say, 2 CENTS for every dollar you have deposited with them… in perpetuity.)

  7. The biggest feed in tariff offered by Origin in SE QLD is 15 cents not 19 cents.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Thanks for pointing that out, Chris. Origin Energy got me. While I had eliminated Origin’s highest feed-in tariff plan, I didn’t realize their second highest feed-in tariff also wasn’t available. I’ve corrected the article for Brisbane and I am checking the other cities where Origin was the cheapest.

    • Grace du Prie says

      Yea, I was also going to say that. I get 11 c from Origin but…when I spoke with them we worked out that the lower FIT gave me 21% discount and that worked out to be a better deal than higher FIT. I try to use my solar up during the day so I have only about $67 FIT per quarter. But my bill is just about $257!

  8. Nathan Milburn says

    Fantastic article.

    I signed up for Amaysim with a 6kW inverter, but I was very clear during the signup process that I had a 6kW inverter and asked if that would be okay, referencing the section of their terms that said that 5kW was the maximum.
    The consultant said that this would be fine, and I signed up.
    After a number of months, and once my system was commissioned, Amaysim refused to pay my feed-in tariff as my inverter was too large.

    Fortunately, I recorded my conversation (as I always to after clearing it when dealing with businesses) and I simply provided the recording to my complaint agent. After some discussion, they eventually allowed my 6kW and began paying my feed-in.

  9. Amaysim plans not available in my area (Coromandel Valley). Guess it’s back to Origin.

  10. Some people like playing games with the Devil, and some people prefer to just play with themselves..(there’s a word for it that eludes me for the moment)…. and then there are those stalwarts who’d rather fiddle with electricity companies in the fervent hope that they stand the smallest chance of coming out ahead.
    “Who Has The Cheapest Electricity Plans For Solar Owners?” D’HO! Those not connected to the grid. …Except in Brisbane, apparently, where staying connected to the sparking umbilical cord can gain one 25.75 cents every single day!
    Of course, given that up to 80% of house-fires are caused by electrical faults, that princely sum is more than humungously swallowed up by fire-insurance payments. Come to think of it, has anyone thought to find out whether the power companies are owned/affiliated with the insurance industry… or vice-versa?

    • Hate to wake you from your dream but there isn’t a standalone system (off grid) that doesn’t cost money. At least it is possible, with a decent sized system (10KVA in my case with a 20c fit), to come out ahead in a normal home when connected to the grid.

  11. How Reality can overtake us! –> “The biggest feed in tariff offered by Origin in SE QLD is 15 cents not 19 cents.”
    Does this, thyen, mean that those investment-conscious Brisbaners in fact make a substantially (20%) smaller profit than 25.75 cpd touted.

  12. Forget the feed in tariff, buy some agm batteries and go off grid with grid still connected for off peak hot water and other high use (welder etc). We have for the last 11 years and very happy with no blackouts.

  13. Very useful article. Thanks Ronald.

    Most of the figures are very close to the actual values from my 6.48kW system in Melbourne.
    For me however, Tango works out the cheapest at the moment.
    What this is an indication of, however, is that I need to review my provider again in January.

  14. Donald Firth says

    Rural NSW I’ve just checked with Origin (Tagalog seemed the operators first language, with english a poor second- but I digress, must have been reading too many of these articles!) and they offered me 21c feed in with no limit to system size.
    Of course, this is for a no lock in contract and 12 month offer..subject to standard 20 day notification of variation.
    for my situation that works out about $650 pa cheaper than DC Power at 15c feed in., so tempted as they would end up paying me all year round.

    • and even better their daily usage charge is one of the lowest as well as their all-day grid tariff per kWh. It appears their grid use tariff is a 40% mark-up on the FIT of 21 cents per kWh – which from the trawling I have done appears to be about the lowest difference out there and combined with their DSC (13 cents/day lower than Dodo for example) on my actual year figures saw a likely saving of 31%.

  15. Hi Ron,

    I used the tool late this morning (23 Aug) and unfortunately the Origin Plans that came up (for NSW & my postcode) still are the ones requiring Origin panels etc and give a 23 cent FIT.

    Being ever the pedant/skinflint/details person – I had a look at a few others.

    What I found with one supplier, Powershop, I could not believe IN THE WORST POSSIBLE WAY.

    Powershop offers that came up via your page, the Fed Govt page and their own page (and entire web site) DO NOT disclose ALL RELEVANT information seemingly.

    Powershop’s offers that are presented as ‘best’ are most likely the worst ones you could choose as they DIFFER from the offers made by every other electricity supplier.

    The touted discount is only available if you MANUALLY intervene each month within a 2 day time-frame other wise YOU get ZERO DISCOUNT.

    If you set up a direct debit to pay the amount on or before the due date, unlike every other supplier, that CAUSES YOU TO LOSE THE DISCOUNT.

    Yes, you read it correctly. If you pay the bill automatically by Direct Debit then your so-called discount becomes ZERO.

    I rang Powershop as the information on their website & the EnergyMadeEasy site was lacking – zero detail on what the discount exactly is or how you get it.

    Nothing in the key features.

    On the Govt site (EnergyMadeEasy) under the heading ‘Discounts’ there is zero about the discount shown in the offer. There is an address shown if you want more (than zero) information.

    Trouble is that web address does not exist. You get to a different web page with nothing showing about the plan nor discount offered. So perhaps they want us to type in ‘Discount’ on the page & search for it?

    The results that come up DO NOT show anything actually relevant to what you came to find. After 90 minutes reading every result & circuitous links included – I was no better off.

    So I rang Powershop and asked what is the discount & how do I get it. After asking the identical question 6 or 7 times they admitted that it was different to every other provider AND there was no way to automatically receive the large discount that came up on your site, the Govt site nor their own site.

    Even though nowhere in the first 20 results does it state that the discount can only be received if you MANUALLY go to their site EVERY month within a short time frame ( 2 days or less) and fill out a form to pay exactly the same way as the Direct Debit you have already set-up. Nor does it state that it is entirely different to how every other supplier operates – I think that is VERY relevant information if they want to live up to their claimed goal of full transparency.

    It gets better….

    They do have a somewhat hidden alternate offer that does allow auto payment – but the discount is 1/6th tp 1/7th the discount shown with the results on the searches detailed above.

    Does make you wonder how they calculated the value of the two types of offer to the company & the customer doesn’t it. 1/6th to 1/7th the discount amount appears valued by the company as similar to the mainstream marketed offer.

    Hmmmm.

    They then admitted that many customers had complained when they got zero discounts via direct debit which is why they introduced the 2% discount offer more recently (although hard to find it as hidden below business offers it may be even though you tick residential at the start – go figure?).

    Even better their calculator (put in your bills details to get a better result) despite ticking the box [Yes, I have Solar] does not result in you entering how many kWhs of solar went to the grid just what your kWhs from the grid were.

    Does make a difference somewhat.

    But they would pass my feedback along….

    R I P O F F or not?…………..

    • Andrew, I think you are being a bit hard on Powershop. I agree they use a different charging mechanism from other companies which takes a while to follow, BUT if you do the figures you may find that even without the extra discounts that you can get for buying power in advance, you will still be better off than using one of the large companies. My bill for the last 60 days is $169 whereas the best offer on Finn’s calculator is $188

      I use Powershop because: 1. Unlike the big 3 companies they do not campaign against renewable energy and pressure the Federal government against adopting a sensible/responsible energy policy. 2. They provide 100% renewable power at no extra cost, while still giving you the opportunity to pay more to support further renewable development. 3. They support community groups such as GetUp! and others. Finally, 4. Their rates are reasonable

      Why doesn’t the calculator include Powershop in the comparisons?

      • I created a simple spreadsheet which used my past 12 months actual usage and Surplus to the grid.
        Pedant that I am, I spent some hours yesterday and last night comparing 15 suppliers.
        Power shop for me came out as 22% MORE expensive than Origin No discount solar plan with 21 cent FIT. Free direct debit auto use, 29.?? All day kWh and lower daily service charge.
        I cannot calculate any outcome where Powershop can beat the Origin no discount but 21 cent FIT plan where you are close to +/- 5% of total grid use matching what you feed in. If you feed in more than you get them it is no contest with ANY other plan available.
        This Origin plan will not last if word of mouth spreads.
        HOWEVER Origin are not pushing it for good reason.
        They are pushing their solar 13% total bill (not just usage) discount plan with same grid use tariff, same dsc BUT 8 cent FIT.
        It is a simple formula of spread between FIT and use tariff that will decide the issue for most people with solar panels. The Origin spread of approx 8.4 cents is compelling.

        • Clearly it depends where you live. Origin only offers the 21c FIT in NSW and 18c in SA. In Vic the best they have is 15c but that goes along with higher usage rates and daily charges. In fact, the best price from Origin for my last 2 months was their Max Saver plan offering 12c FIT, total $176. Still a bit more than Powershop (based on their Mega pack 23% off which admittedly does require you to shop around on their website). Their standard charges are higher and Powershop may be less competitive elsewhere. Or if the the larger companies are offering temporary high FIT – I wonder if they’ll be offering it in summer…
          And remember that Powershop uses 100% renewable sources, whereas the other companies charge a premium for this.

  16. I think you tool is being gamed a bit. Using you toll, the cheapest / top result for mes showed quarterly cost of about $970. goto the site, enter the same usage details and cost is about $1040.
    The usage rates are different, too: 20.95 (on tool) vs 24.226 on company site.
    Company is Momentum Energy.

  17. Hi Ronald,
    I like the comparison tool but for it to be really effective it should allow us to put in a 12 month figure. Doing it with 12 monthly bills is very fiddly. You need 12 months for a calculation since I believe, like me, most people will produce twice as much solar in summer and twice as much grid electricity in winter.

  18. Diamond Energy apparently purchases electricity from 100% renewable sources. That, for me, puts them right in front of everybody else who doesn’t.

  19. nick ramsdale says

    According to amaysim website, they don’t supply south Australia, so where do the rates come from?

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hi Nick

      The Amaysim website is defective. It must be costing them a fortune. They are available in South Australia as Finn uses them and just updated his plan this morning. (It took him 6 minutes on the phone.) You can see a list of their South Australian plans here:

      https://www.amaysim.com.au/energy/plans

      I will mention to Amaysim their site is defective. I don’t know if they’ll do anything about it.

  20. Thanks very much. Appreciate the link

  21. The comparison tool doesn’t have anywhere to input controlled loads and as you say, the lack of TOU options limits it considerably.

    I use wattever.com.au as it looks at all the input factors, controlled loads and it has TOU options. I found it really good at finding suitable retailer options to consider, and then I use my own spreadsheets to compare plans.

    As others have said, I think people should be using a full year of data. The best plan for the last quarter may not be the best plan for the entire year.

    Of course all these comparison sites can do is compare published plans. What they won’t do is tell you what plan you can negotiate with your retailer. e.g. when talking with my current retailer about changing plans, they offered me a better deal than the advertised options.

    I’m not an average use case and a TOU plan is indeed a better option for us. Best TOU plan is about $200/year cheaper than best fixed rate plan.

    EnergyAustralia works out best for us. We are high consumption household, large solar PV (11kW) with 55% self consumption. Plus a controlled load.

    • I should add, because of the lack of controlled load inout, Finn’s plan finder lists 13 plans which are actually more expensive than the best fixed rate plan for us. And then a TOU plan is better again.

  22. I’m in Brisbane with 6kw inverter and 7.8kw of panels. Two months ago I changed to AGL due to them offering 20cent feed in. I mad my own tool (spreadsheet) because the online ones were no good at all. AGL was by far the best although I didn’t come to final numbers on the confusing pay up front options.

    Anyway, origin phoned me to stay with them, after lots of back and forth I ended up with AGL for 3 weeks, got the $50 new customer credit and then back to origin with the lower tariffs but 20cent feed in matched and a promised $50 credit on my first bill coming back. It turns out though that with my usage habits the higher charges from AGL are offset by the higher daily access from origin, so there’s only $2 per quarter difference in the end.

    Put in summary, origin and AGL will pay 20c feeding in Brisbane and are the best choice as far as I saw.

    • Agreed – I’m in Brisbane with 5kW inverter and 6kW panels, switched to AGL solar savers when Powershops FIT decreased, now happily getting 20c FIT and ending up $10-$30 credit per month.

      Can’t see how the 16.1c FIT is the best deal?

  23. Bob Johnson says

    Hi Ron,
    I’m on Sunshine Coast and I agree with Lionel above. Without ringing up and getting a verbal deal it is hard to get the best deal and it seems designed to confuse. For example-
    On their website Origin has their best offer (Solar Optimiser) with .15 FIT yet on your calculator it indicates .20 FIT
    AGL is the reverse- website and above indicates .15 yet I get .20 FIT.
    Without aircon we are very economical users (6kw solar) and so far this year we have zero bills and are in credit for approx $400 with AGL (which doesn’t fit with your calculator).
    Interestingly, I have a higher FIT than the hot water rate T31 (.20 vs .185inc.GST).
    Cheers
    Bob

  24. I have 7.3kW of solar in Sydney and with Energy Locals with what I think is average consumption and my annual bill is around $600 a year so I’m perplexed that you are claiming someone with Origin is paying only $355.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Let me know the details of your plan and I’ll see how they stack up.

      • For the Period 23 May 2019 ‐ 21 August 2019Electricity charges (please see over for details)$474.51Solar FiT$212.40 CRGST$47.45Total New Charges$309.56Invoice Summary
        Amount Due Due $309.56
        Average daily usage (kWh): 18.97 Average Peak: 3.19kWh This Period Electricity: 1,707.16 kWh Average Cost Per Day (incl GST): $5.80COMPARE USAGEAverage10.9916.5217.6321.2924.23Your average daily usage (kWh):18.97 Days90NMI41032610407Billing Period24/05/2019 to 21/08/2019Total Charges$262.11Next Read Date20/11/2019Meter ReadsMeter ReadEnd/Read DateEnd ReadMultiTotal Usage5539/124/05/20190.00 kWh (A)21/08/2019977.94 kWh (A)1.0977.94 kWh5539/224/05/20190.00 kWh (A)21/08/20191,699.47 kWh (A)1.01,699.47 kWh5539/324/05/20190.00 kWh (A)21/08/2019729.22 kWh (A)1.0729.22 kWhA = Actual, S = Substitute, E = EstimateUsage RETAILPeak Usage24/05/2019 ‐ 21/08/2019286.68kWhx$0.3699=$106.04Membership $4.50/wk24/05/2019 ‐ 21/08/201990.00daysx$0.5828=$52.45Supply Charge24/05/2019 ‐ 21/08/201990.00daysx$1.0300=$92.70Shoulder Usage24/05/2019 ‐ 21/08/2019442.04kWhx$0.1899=$83.94Off Peak Usage24/05/2019 ‐ 21/08/2019249.23kWhx$0.1499=$37.36Controlled Load Usage24/05/2019 ‐ 21/08/2019729.22kWhx$0.1399=$102.02Solar FiT ‐ Step 124/05/2019 ‐ 21/08/2019849.21kWhx‐$0.1600=‐$135.87Solar FiT ‐ Step 224/05/2019 ‐ 21/08/2019850.27kWhx‐$0.0900=‐$76.52Rounding Adjustment‐$0.01Total EXCLUDING GST$262.11GST$47.45Total Including GST$309.56Nov 18Dec 18Jan 19Feb 19Mar 19Apr 19May 19Jun 19Jul 19Aug 19Sep 19Oct 19Nov 19 0 50010001500Total Monthly UsageNov 18Dec 18Jan 19Feb 19Mar 19Apr 19May 19Jun 19Jul 19Aug 19Sep 19Oct 19Nov 190.0000.5001.0001.5002.000
        USAGE SUMMARYAverage daily usage (kWh): 18.97 Average Peak: 3.19kWh This Period Electricity: 1,707.16 kWh Average Cost Per Day (incl GST): $5.80COMPARE USAGEAverage10.9916.5217.6321.2924.23Your average daily usage (kWh):18.97 Days90NMI41032610407Billing Period24/05/2019 to 21/08/2019Total Charges$262.11Next Read Date20/11/2019Meter Reads Total Usage5539/124/05/20190.00 kWh (A)21/08/2019977.94 kWh (A)1.0977.94 kWh5539/224/05/20190.00 kWh (A)21/08/20191,699.47 kWh (A)1.01,699.47 kWh5539/324/05/20190.00 kWh (A)21/08/2019729.22 kWh (A)1.0729.22 kWhA = Actual, S = Substitute, E = EstimateUsage ChargesTypeDescriptionCharge PeriodQuantityUnitRate $TotalRETAILPeak Usage24/05/2019 ‐ 21/08/2019286.68kWhx$0.3699=$106.04Membership $4.50/wk24/05/2019 ‐ 21/08/201990.00daysx$0.5828=$52.45Supply Charge24/05/2019 ‐ 21/08/201990.00daysx$1.0300=$92.70Shoulder Usage24/05/2019 ‐ 21/08/2019442.04kWhx$0.1899=$83.94Off Peak Usage24/05/2019 ‐ 21/08/2019249.23kWhx$0.1499=$37.36Controlled Load Usage24/05/2019 ‐ 21/08/2019729.22kWhx$0.1399=$102.02Solar FiT ‐ Step 124/05/2019 ‐ 21/08/2019849.21kWhx‐$0.1600=‐$135.87Solar FiT ‐ Step 224/05/2019 ‐ 21/08/2019850.27kWhx‐$0.0900=‐$76.52Rounding Adjustment‐$0.01Total EXCLUDING GST$262.11GST$47.45Total Including GST$309.56Nov 18Dec 18Jan 19Feb 19Mar 19Apr 19May 19Jun 19Jul 19Aug 19Sep 19Oct 19Nov 19 0 50010001500Total Monthly UsageNov 18Dec 18Jan 19Feb 19Mar 19Apr 19May 19Jun 19Jul 19Aug 19Sep 19Oct 19Nov 190.0000.5001.0001.5002.000

        • Sorry Ronald,
          This ended up very messy, hope you can decipher whatever info is useful.
          Jeff

          • Ronald Brakels says

            Yes, I’m afraid that is a bit of a mess. To me it looks like your peak electricity use is relatively low, which means you may be in the minority of solar households that is better off on a time-of-use tariff than a standard tariff. But to be sure you’d have to work out the average of what you are paying per kilowatt-hour for grid electricity and then compare it to what you’d be paying on a standard tariff, while also taking into account supply charges and solar feed-in tariff.

          • Ok thanks Ronald, I run a workshop from home mostly during daylight hours but even that doesn’t require much self-consumption and only occasionally needs heat.
            I’ve left a couple of messages in the SQ contact box regarding a problem I’m having with the way data is showing on Fronius Solar web. I have 2 inverters and a smart meter but one inverter shows production as consumption only. Is there a fixer in Sydney you can recommend. I haven’t had any joy getting the installer to acknowledge that there’s a problem.

            Jeff .

  25. Hi,

    We were put on a TOU tariff when we had solar installed in 2011. Also, we currently receive a Concession on the StP charges. But it would be good to be able to do a comparison between TOU and “Normal” rates, also the 3-rate (forget what it’s called). But I don’t know if we could change back, even if we wanted to. IIRC TOU was bestest. ;p

    Maybe these factors could be added? Make it a proper comparison.

    I have a spreadsheet, but only use it compare TOU between the variuos providers (ATM). I can’t think of any other acronyms!!

    dRdoS7

  26. wattmatters says

    One of the other traps with comparing TOU plans is in some cases different retailer plans apply different TOU periods.

    e.g. the Solar Optimiser plan (with a 21c/kWh FIT) from Origin in Essential Energy distribution area comes with a high priced shoulder tariff periods (7am-10pm) on the weekends, whereas other retailers’ plans the weekends are entirely off-peak tariff.

    To be able to compare those tariffs you need to also work out how to split your energy use data into differently defined TOU periods. You can’t simply enter in the energy data from your electricity bill.

    • According to a report from well-known investment bank with impeccable ex-politicians as 6 figure consultants (enough hints?) released many years back…
      Time of use tariffs in over 92% (was the figure I recall) of cases produce a greater profit for the retailer.
      Since then, as mentioned in some comments above, various retailers have been even more creative and changed when the various different rates operate. In the cases I looked at it appeared as these changes solely benefited the retailer – who would have guessed?

      While time shifting is possible (sometimes with expense that may be great), in reality STEER CLEAR OF Time of use.

      • wattmatters says

        I would not suggest steering clear of TOU (if indeed you have such an option because in some distribution areas TOU is the *only* option).

        Rather I suggest doing the analysis to find the best plan for each individual household’s circumstances. It may well be a flat rate plan is best in the majority of cases but this is not universally true.

        There are cases (such as ours) where a TOU plan is in fact the best plan, in my case it’s better than the best flat rate plan by hundreds of dollars per year.

        It’s just unfortunate that doing the analysis is not easy for the majority. Being able to parse the energy flow data so that one can compare such variable TOU periods requires a level of analysis skill beyond most people.

        To do it for the average consumer would require a tool where one approves provision of their smart meter data to a service which can automatically parse the data into the TOU periods which apply to each retailer’s set of plans and determine the best offer. Then you use that as a bargaining chip in negotiations with your retailer.

  27. Dave Wilson says

    I have a battery supplied via the S.A. Virtual Power Plant AGL arrangement. I presume this stops me changing to a different power retailer.

    • Hi Dave,

      You’re able to change provider but you’ll lose the benefits that come with the program as the system will have to be switched off unfortunately (the one downside of not having to pay for solar & storage up front I guess!). It’s the cheapest generally available rate in SA so hopefully there’s a good reason to stay with the program. You can contact me anytime with feedback – [email protected]

  28. V Carlisle says

    I did my own spreadsheet a few months back, we *have* to have TOU (Sydney metro, Ausgrid) but most of the comparison websites give us the flat rate numbers – pretty useless.

    I ended up with the Origin Low Rate (Seasonal TOU) plan and our first three *monthly* bills have been: $50/$70/$52 (allowing for a low NFIT of $0.08). Bill for the same time previous year was $450 (no panels at that time).

    When it’s TOU you really have to dig into the usage, consumption, and generation patterns; and then assume those will be similar going forward.

    Reviewing this makes me want to do the backward comparison next year to see if I got it right!

  29. Vanika Sharma says

    Hi Ronald
    Thanks for the useful article.
    Could you please share the electricity tariffs for your concluded capitals?

  30. Lincoln Turner says

    Actually the Amaysim plan in Victoria (all distributors I’ve looked at) pays a 20c FIT, not 18c… so is even better than described here.

    I asked wattever.com and they said they’d missed this – apparently Amaysim posted the 18c plan on 1 July and upped it to 20c on 4 July. Wattever is now showing the 20c rate.

  31. Grace du Prie says

    However, Amasym does not support concession in QLD so that would take out a lot of money for us pensioners again.

  32. Great write up. There is one product that actually perfects the approach to find the cheapest energy plan based on your actual energy usage. I know Finn spoke of them before in an earlier article.

    The product is called Emberpulse, i did my research on it and had one installed. It uses my actual solar generation and grid energy usage data and collects this in real time to work out the best plan for me. It does this every 6 months also.

    I think it is the only product that provides this service and is truly independent as they state they don’t have any tie ins with energy retailers.

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