So, You Want To Switch Your Electricity Plan?

Switching electricity plans

If you’re the proud owner of solar power system and have found a more attractive electricity plan, here’s what you should know before you switch.

In an earlier article, I compared the most expensive and cheapest electricity plans for solar owners in terms of difference in cost over a year.

Maybe you’ve then used SolarQuotes’ handy tool for quickly comparing electricity plans, done some further research and found a plan that better suits your circumstances. It may still be with your current electricity retailer, or perhaps it’s another provider.

Electricity Plan Switch Checklist

Making the switch shouldn’t be difficult, but before you contact the electricity retailer about the new plan, ensure you have all the information you need to take the next step.

  • Make sure you have read and understood the retailer’s summary document about your chosen plan that contains key information about it; which includes the feed-in, usage and daily charge rates, other fees, discounts, contract length etc. Be aware some plans offer attractive introductory rates for a set period, after which they aren’t such a great deal.
  • Check with your current retailer on whether there will be any exit fees associated with the plan you’re on now. You never know, this may also act as a flag to the retailer that you’re considering dumping them and they may offer a better deal.
  • Important: Also check with your current retailer what will happen in a situation if you’re in credit when you decide to switch to another electricity company1.
  • Inquire about the retailer’s price change policy in terms of the new contract.
  • Be aware you have a cooling-off period of 10 business days from when you sign up for a new plan to back out of it and not be subject to any exit fees.
  • Consider aspects that may be useful to you such as flexible payment options.
  • If you’re in the process of installing solar panels, don’t attempt to make the switch until the installation and meter changeover (if necessary) is finalised as this can create complications.

Making The Switch – What Happens Next

With all your ducks lined up, it’s time to contact the electricity retailer; providing them the name and ID (on the summary document) of the plan you’d like. If it’s a new retailer, they will then get your energy service changed over and tell your current retailer you are switching – there’s nothing you need to do there.

Not long after that contact, you’ll receive a letter or email from the retailer detailing the plan and the terms and conditions associated with it.

The actual changeover happens after the next time your meter is read. As this may be months depending on your billing cycle, you can ask the new retailer for an earlier meter read – but you should check to see whether this involves an additional cost.


UPDATE October 4 – Since the start of this month, the time taken to switch electricity retailers has been reduced to two days.
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You’ll then receive one final bill from your retailer for whatever is outstanding or indicating a credit.

Still Seems Like Too Much Hassle?

While switching electricity plans shouldn’t be difficult, time-consuming or stressful, perhaps for whatever reason you’ve decided to stay with the devil you know.

Electricity retailers are meant to signal on the bills they issue if there is a plan that may be more suitable for you, but it never hurts to pick up the phone and ask for a better deal. A quick phone call could ultimately save you hundreds or thousands of dollars, and that’s what installing a solar power system is all about for many Australians – saving money (but the emissions reduction is a very valuable bonus too).

Footnotes

  1. This is a bit of a grey area – SQ’s Ronald published an article on the topic of refunds of credits accumulated under solar feed-in tariffs last year.
About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Comments

  1. I switched to Alinta from Energy Australia after they dropped their FiT to 6.6c. Their FiT has dropped by 10c in 2 years. The other thing to look out for is the plan you will be put on. I’m having an argument with Alinta because they put me on a demand plan saying that’s the only option available at my address / on my meter. This despite the fact I’ve been here 13 years and always had single rate. Having said that, even with the demand tariff I’ll be better off.

  2. You left out the follow-up cqll from your old retailer trying to stop you leaving, and offering all sorts of sweeteners that aren’t on their website…
    Always ask for deals. Even from your new retailer. I managed to get an extra 2 cents FIT when I switched a few weeks ago. No, that didn’t make me decide. It was that their usage and cents per day charges were WAY less than I had been used to paying. And I had already made up my mind before I called them.

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