Relief is in sight for Canberrans concerned about forecast price hikes in their household power bills with the ACT’s main electricity provider, ActewAGL, offering a 25 per cent discount for customers who sign up for it via their website.
According to ActewAGL, the deal more than compensates for the 14.29 per cent increase in the ACT’s residential electricity prices announced late last week by the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission – a move which was expected to cost Canberrans about $300 extra a year.
It means that Canberrans now have the opportunity to cut their electricity bills rather than suffer an increase, with the only catch seemingly being that customers signing up for the discount need to opt-in to pay their bills by direct debit and to receive their bills electronically.
Importantly, ActewAGL customers need to sign up for the 12-month ‘discount market offer’ via the website at www.actewagl.com.au and can’t just receive the discount automatically.
When The RiotACT tried it out we found that you could only access details about the discount offer through your current online account or through registering for an online account if you don’t currently have one.
Interestingly, we found that there was also a separate discount offer of 12 per cent for people who didn’t want to sign up for direct debit.
Many Canberrans were concerned at the ICRC’s recent announcement that the ACT’s regulated retail electricity prices could be increased by a maximum of 14 per cent for the financial year starting from July 1, 2018.
The ICRC said that if ActewAGL Retail increased prices by the full 14.29 per cent, this would translate to an increase of up to $299 in the annual bills (or about $5.73 a week) for a typical Canberra household consuming about 8,000 kWh per year.
The RiotACT’s readers showed their dismay at this news with comments such as “we can’t afford this”, “I’d like a wage increase of 14% please” and “we had a big rise last year as well”.
ACT Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability, Shane Rattenbury last Friday wrote to ActewAGL chief executive Michael Costello asking whether ActewAGL could decrease or freeze its electricity prices for ACT customers given that on June 8 it announced that it would decrease prices for NSW, Queensland and South Australia.
ActewAGL Retail General Manager, Ayesha Razzaq, told The RiotACT that even after the 1 July increase of 14.29% announced by the ICRC, ACT residential electricity prices would still remain cheaper than in NSW.
“We recognise however that energy prices hit households hard and that’s why we are responding in two major ways,” Ms Razzaq said.
“Firstly we are offering a 25 per cent discount market offer on electricity usage for customers who sign up via our website www.actewagl.com.au.
“All ACT electricity customers are eligible for the market offer.
“We also know there are many in our community really struggling and we have a range of services to help,” Ms Razzaq said.
“In conjunction with the ACT Government we’ve created a half a million dollar Energy Support Fund.
“Through the fund, energy vouchers will be distributed through local community groups (Care Financial Counselling, Salvation Army Moneycare and St Vincent De Paul), who provide emergency relief services – providing people with direct support to help cover bills. Funds will also go to financial counselling services.”
Ms Razzaq said that ActewAGL doesn’t want any of its customers to go without this winter and encouraged those experiencing hardship to call ActewAGL’s Bill Helpline on 13 12 93.
Mr Rattenbury welcomed ActewAGL’s discount offer but also said it was important for Canberrans to shop around to get the best deal to suit their needs.
“The 25 per cent discount offer that’s been put out by Actew is very welcome,” Mr Rattenbury said.
“I think people should take this opportunity to sit down, look at their electricity account and make sure they are getting the best deal for them.
“There are a range of options out there. They have certain conditions attached to each of those options so I’d say to people, do have a look at what you’re currently signed up to, see if there is a better option for you, and ask the energy companies what the best deal is for you given your electricity usage.”
Another ACT electricity provider, Origin Energy, last week announced that it would freeze its base electricity tariffs in the ACT from July 1 in order to deliver modest relief from rising prices.
“We’ve absorbed higher costs in the ACT, turning what would have been an increase into a freeze on our base tariffs for our customers there,” said Origin Retail head Jon Briskin.
Mr Briskin said Origin Energy also has a current ‘Dual Fuel’ offer in the ACT, with a 25 per cent discount off both electricity and gas usage charges for customers who have both gas and electricity with the provider.
To see ActewAGL’s energy price fact sheets click here and scroll down.