Flexible pricing

Flexible pricing means your electricity retailer charges you different rates for electricity at different times of the day. Power used in off-peak or shoulder times is cheaper than power used at peak times. Your smart meter ensures accuracy by monitoring your energy use every 30 minutes.


What does flexible pricing plan look like?

Here is an example of a typical plan.

The price of electricity is lower than the peak rate and higher than the off-peak rate, when there is a reduced demand for electricity.

 On Weekends, Off peak is 10pm -7am. Shoulder period is 7am-10pm. On Weekdays, Off peak is 10pm-7am. Shoulder period is 9pm-10pm and 7am - 3pm, Peak period is 3pm-9pm

Legend:

Legend-peak

Peak: The price of electricity is higher during the 'peak' times, typically on weekday afternoons and evenings, when the demand for electricity is the highest.

Legend-shoulder

Shoulder: The price of electricity is lower than the peak rate and higher than the off-peak rate.

Peak

Off-peak: The price of electricity is lowest when the demand for electricity is the lowest.

Contact your energy retailer to find out the rates and what times they are available to you.

The above example is for illustrative purposes only. Electricity retailers may vary the flexible pricing timeframes and rates on offer.

How do flexible pricing rates compare to flat rates?

The off-peak rate will probably be lower than your current flat rate and the peak rate will probably be higher. On weekends there will generally be only off-peak and shoulder rates applicable (no peak rates).

Flexible pricing can save you money if enough of your energy use is in the shoulder or off-peak times.

Compare flexible and flat rate plans with My Power Planner.

What savings can I make on a flexible pricing plan?

Dishwasher. Reduce costs by $20 - $40 per year Washing Machine. Reduce costs by $30-$60 per year Clothes Dryer. Reduce costs by over $50 per year

Here are some examples of average savings.

  • Running a typical dishwasher at off-peak rates instead of a typical flat rate could reduce your running costs by $20-$40 a year (assuming daily use with a 3.5-star appliance).
  • Running your washing machine at off-peak rates instead of a typical flat rate could reduce your running costs by $30 to $60 a year (assuming a 3.5 star 7 kg washing machine, used 4 times per week).
  • Running your clothes dryer at off-peak instead of a typical flat rate could reduce your running costs by over $50 a year (assuming 1.5 uses a week of an 8 kg, 1.5 star appliance).
  • If all of these appliances were consistently operated at off-peak times instead of on a typical flat rate, your household could reduce the cost of using these appliances by up to $100 to $150 a year.

You need to consider your own circumstances – the size of your house, the number of people living in your house, the number of appliances you have and when you use them are all factors you need to take into account.

How do I get the best out of my flexible pricing plan?

Flexible pricing saves you money if you can change a significant amount of your energy use to off-peak or shoulder times.

  • Use as many appliances as you can during off-peak times when electricity is cheapest (such as your washing machine and dishwasher).
  • Use timers on your appliances and set the appliance to turn on during off-peak or shoulder times.
  • Charge portable devices such as phones and laptops after 10pm while you sleep rather than when you get home from work.

Can I change my mind after I've switched to flexible pricing?

Yes - you can try a new flexible pricing plan with your retailer and change back to your previous plan without incurring an administration fee (until March 2015).

However, depending on the contract you have accepted, you may have to pay some additional fees or charges. Discuss any potential costs associated with moving back to your previous plan with your retailer before accepting a new plan.

If you switch retailers make sure you check their contract conditions before you agree.

If you are a small business, your contract or plan may have different conditions. Check with your retailer.

What's the difference between time-of-use, off-peak tariff and flexible pricing?

Around 20% of all Victorians are already on dual pricing rates. This means you have a flat tariff for general load and an off-peak tariff for either a controlled load (specific appliances such as hot water systems or slab heating) or off-peak times.

If you already receive an off-peak tariff you will have two tariff rates on your electricity bill.

There are differences between current time-of-use plans and flexible pricing:

  • price and time: your current peak and off-peak times and rates will be different to flexible pricing times and rates
  • flexible pricing may be blanket coverage. This means it covers all appliances and usage, not just the dedicated appliance
  • any manual "boosting" is likely to be at the flexible rate when it occurs. Your boost function will be charged at the rate (peak, off-peak or shoulder) that applies when the function is used.

Where can I see what flexible pricing plans are available?

Use My Power Planner to compare your current electricity offers against others, inclulding flexible pricing plans

The easiest way to see and compare offers is using My Power Planner. By inputting basic electricity bill information you can compare all retail electricity offers you are eligible for, including flexible and flat rates.

Can I access flexible pricing for gas?

No. Flexible pricing is only available for electricity.

For information on gas plans and prices, contact your energy retailer, or visit YourChoice.

Do flexible pricing times change for daylight savings?

The time display on your smart meter is not adjusted for daylight savings time; it stays on Australian Eastern Standard Time. However some retailers do offer rates that reflect daylight savings.

If you are uncertain about the rates and times offered by your current retailer, call them.

How can I know if flexible pricing is right for me?

Concession Fixed or low income Small business Solar panels

If a lot of your energy use is already during off-peak or shoulder times, flexible pricing may be able to save you money.

Go to My Power Planner and check the offers for your area. My Power Planner will compare offers available to you, whether flexible or flat rate, based on information about your household.

If you can shift some major appliance use from peak times to times when lower rates apply, flexible pricing can lower your electricity costs

The Flexible Pricing Profiler lets you see the impact that using appliances in peak, off-peak or shoulder periods has on a typical bill and the potential savings you could make by changing the time in which you use your appliances.

I'm on a concession rate. Should I change to flexible pricing?

Flexible pricing plans may save you money, but they may also affect your current concession rate. This information relates to the most common concession types currently available.

The Government's Annual Electricity Concession

The Government's Annual Electricity Concession rate of 17.5% will apply to the total amount owing on your bill, regardless of whether or not you choose to take up a flexible pricing offer. It's still best to call your retailer to confirm your concession arrangements.

Controlled Load Electricity Concession (formerly Off Peak Electricity Concession)

If you are eligible for the off-peak concession rate of 13% this means you have some separately metered electric appliances, such as an electric hot water service or space/slab heating.

Flexible pricing may change your eligibility for this concession. This is because if you accept a flexible pricing offer it may not be possible for your off-peak appliances to continue to be measured separately.

This means you will receive an off-peak rate for all appliances that operate at off-peak times, but you may not get your 13% concession for your hot water or slab / space heating appliances.

It's important to check with your electricity retailer to check whether you keep your off-peak concession if you change to a flexible pricing plan.

Electricity Retailer Hardship Program

If you are currently under a hardship program with your electricity retailer, the retailer is required to make sure you are on the plan that best suits your energy use. If you have any questions, talk to your retailer.

Contact the Department of Human Services or more information about concessions and eligibility.

I'm on a fixed or low income. Should I change to flexible pricing?

Use the Flexible Pricing Profiler to see how flexible pricing rates and time periods workUse My Power Planner to easily compare electricity plans with flat and flexible rates and find the one that's best for you

If you have low or fixed income and can shift some of your energy use to shoulder or off-peak periods, then you can make savings with a flexible pricing plan.

However, it's important to carefully consider any changes to your current arrangements. For example, if you use electric heaters or other energy-intensive appliances in the late afternoon and evenings, you will get less benefit from flexible pricing plans.

The Flexible Pricing Profiler demonstrates how flexible pricing rates and time periods work.

My Power Planner lets you easily compare electricity plans with flat and flexible rates and find the one that's best for you.

If you don't feel confident exploring these tools, ask a family member, friend or neighbour to help. Talk to someone at your local neighbourhood house, community centre or library as they may be able to help you access the computer.

If you have a concession card, make sure that you check with your retailer how flexible pricing will affect your concessions.

Of course, you can stay on your current rate and plan. Flexible pricing is optional and your retailer cannot switch your plan without your written or verbal consent.

I run a small business. How does flexible pricing impact me?

If you are small or medium-sized businesses with an annual electricity usage of less than 160 MWh per year, smart meters enable new electricity pricing offers that could help you lower your power costs.

Firstly, clarify your current plan:

  • Are you on a residential or business tariff? This information will be on your electricity bill (or ask your retailer).
  • Is your current tariff a fixed rate or a time-of-use tariff, with different rates for different time periods?

Then use My Power Planner to compare the time-of-use pricing offers and other flat-rate offers from multiple retailers.

If you are considering a different pricing structure, make sure you are realistic about your ability to shift more of your electricity use to off-peak. It can be difficult for some small businesses to shift their electricity usage because of issues such as opening hours.

Note that some of the consumer protections for flexible pricing are not required for plans offered to small businesses. These include the right to revert to the previous tariff and the availability of a common-form flexible pricing plan structure. If you are considering switching, make sure you talk to your electricity retailer about applicable fees and charges.

Remember that your electricity retailer cannot switch you onto a new pricing plan without your written or verbal consent. Retailers will also continue to offer current peak and off-peak tariff plans.

I have solar power. Should I change to flexible pricing?

If you have solar power, or are considering having solar power installed, flexible pricing may help you to make savings on your electricity bills. But there are a number of things to take into account.

In the near future My Power Planner will be upgraded to include solar and gas retail offers as well as electricity.

You can then compare your current plan against other electricity offers, including flexible pricing.

For existing solar customers:

Confirm with your electricity retailer that your current feed-in tariff (SFiT, TFiT or PFiT) is available in conjunction with the flexible offer you are considering.

For both existing and new solar customers:

  • Compare rates. If you are currently on time-of-use rates, work out what rates you pay for peak and off-peak and compare these to the flexible pricing rates available to you.
  • Compare times. Check your peak and off-peak periods on your current plan and compare these to flexible pricing times for the week and weekend.
  • Your electricity generation. This will mostly take place during the flexible pricing's shoulder period (7am to 3pm), not the peak period that it is under your current plan (7am to 11pm). Your weekend generation would become off-peak.

For those considering solar:

Confirm with your electricity retailer that the new minimum 8 cent feed-in tariff is available in conjunction with the flexible offer you are considering.

Can I change my mind?

In most situations, you can change your mind after changing your pricing plan.

If you are a residential customer and switch to a flexible pricing plan with your current retailer, you can change your mind and return to your previous plan until March 2015.

The arrangements can be different in some distribution areas, so check with your retailer that reverting to your previous offer is available.

AusNet Services customers should talk with their retailer to have a clear understanding of the conditions.

Is flexible pricing voluntary?

Yes. Flexible pricing is voluntary. The choice to switch is yours. Your electricity retailer cannot move you to flexible rates without your explicit consent.