There are two main types of energy contracts available for Queensland residential and small business customers:
- Standard retail contracts
- Market contracts
Standard retail contracts
The basic type of energy contract available to all Queensland energy customers. If you have not actively negotiated a contract with a retailer you are most likely on a standard retail contract. Everyone has the right to be supplied on a standard retail contract and you are under no obligation to sign a market contract. Customers who are in a standard retail contract are on the Queensland Government's regulated electricity price. The terms and conditions of standard electricity and gas customer contracts are set out in the National Energy Retail Rules and cannot be altered by retailers.
An agreement between you and your energy retailer. These types of contracts vary from the regulated terms and conditions of a standard retail contract. They outline all the terms and conditions you have negotiated, including things like price, service standards, fees and charges, billing and payment arrangements and penalties for early termination/cancellation. Your retailer must give you a Customer Charter that clearly outlines the minimum terms and conditions of your contract. While all Queensland customers are entitled to enter a market contract with a retailer of their choice, it is up to the energy retailers to decide which customers they will offer their market contracts to. You can always shop around to see if an energy retailer wants your business.
Read our brochure about Energy and water fees and charges.
When shopping around for an energy contract, you can ask retailers to make you an obligation-free offer. It's important to read all offers carefully and make sure you are comparing like for like.
There are a number of separate elements that can be included in electricity pricing, such as the price for electricity used, network charges and service charges. If you are comparing prices, make sure you check what has been included and what is excluded from your offer.
All energy retailers who offer a market contract set their own 'market' prices. You should compare these prices against the Queensland Government's regulated price.
The electricity you use is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh) or megawatt-hours (MWh). A unit price is the price per kWh or MWh. This is how you will be able to compare prices from different retailers against the Queensland Government's regulated price. Check your recent bills to see how much energy you usually consume - and don't forget you may use more or less electricity in summer or winter.
The Australian Energy Regulator has developed a price comparator Energy Made Easy so you can compare electricity prices offered by Queensland energy retailers. Read more about Comparing energy contracts.
What happens once you have signed the contract?
Once you have signed a contract, your energy retailer must give you a written disclosure statement. It should be in plain English and explain key terms of the contract, including prices, service levels, bill frequency, duration of the contract, available payment methods, fees and charges and early termination penalties.
If you sign up with a new energy retailer, your contract will usually start after your next meter read. You should receive a final bill from your old retailer and a welcome letter from your new retailer to let you know your new contract has begun. Normally, this process can take a few months to complete. See Switching retailers.
If you currently receive a Queensland Government Electricity Rebate, you should make sure that your new retailer has these details.
Always keep a copy of any contract you sign - if there's a dispute in the future you will need all of the original paperwork.
What happens when your contract ends?
At the end of your contract, your retailer must give you the option of going back onto the Queensland Government's regulated electricity price. You can either stay with your current retailer on the regulated price, negotiate another deal with your current retailer, or shop around for a deal with another retailer.
Card operated meters
When you enter into a standard contract, you can request to receive the following information from your retailer:
- a copy of the standard retail contract
- where prepaid cards are available from
- the amount of emergency credit to be provided in the card operated meter system
- how you will receive any rebates, concessions or relief payments available to you under any government rebate, concession or relief schemes
- how you can make a complaint should you need to
- clear, simple and concise instructions on how to operate the card operated meter
- instructions on how to access the emergency credit facility of your card operated meter
- your retailer’s telephone number, or a phone number for complaints, enquiries and emergencies.