Types of energy contracts

Currently, households and small businesses can choose to be either supplied gas under one of the following types of contracts:

  • Regulated contract – retail prices are agreed to between the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) and your regulated offer retailer. Depending on where you live, this will be AGL, ActewAGL or Origin Energy. Regulated retail prices are updated annually.
  • Standard contract – all retailers are required to offer customers a standard price offer. These prices are set by the retailer and can only vary once every 6 months and retailers have to adhere to a robust set of customer protection rules. The terms and conditions of these contracts are set in legislation. These contracts have no end date.
  • Market contract – any retailer can offer customers gas priced under a market offer. The price is generally set by the retailer and often the contract period is fixed, but the retailer may offer incentives such as pay on time discounts or levy charges such as exit fees. Prices under a market contract can change at any time, so long as the retailer notifies the customer in line with the national energy rules and it is in accordance with the contract.

Retail gas prices to be deregulated from 1 July 2017

The NSW Government has committed to extending regulation of retail gas prices until 30 June 2017 (the current regulatory periods finishes on 30 June 2016).

The NSW Government is looking to deregulate retail gas prices from 1 July 2017 if certain conditions are met. This includes an increase in the level of competitive offers available to customers in regional NSW.

Households and small businesses can continue to buy gas under standard contracts and market contracts.

Just like with electricity, removing retail gas price regulation will promote greater competition in the market, encourage more retailers to operate in NSW and offer a range of gas deals. Almost 80 percent of households and small businesses have already moved off the regulated price and onto a market or standard contract.

Frequently asked questions about retail gas price deregulation

How will retail gas prices be set if we deregulate?

Currently, AGL, ActewAGL and Origin are required to offer regulated prices which are agreed with the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal. If we deregulate, all gas retailers will set their own prices, as they do already for their market contracts. The only thing that will change is that AGL, ActewAGL and Origin will no longer be required to offer a regulated price.

However, the NSW Government has asked IPART to forecast retail gas prices for two years: 2017-18 and 2018-19. This will help customers and the Government benchmark retail price movements after deregulation.

The NSW Government will also expand IPART's existing Market Monitor activities from electricity only, to include gas. In its role as Market Monitor, IPART will conduct annual reviews to make sure that competition is still effective in NSW. In addition to IPART's role, the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) also conducts annual reviews on gas and electricity market competition conditions.

The monitoring of both the electricity and gas market will give the NSW Government advanced warning of any changes in competition. This will allow the Government to act to ensure customers continue to benefit from a competitive market.

How do I know if I'm on a regulated contract?

You are most likely on a regulated contract if you have not signed up to a gas contract with a fixed-term period, discount or other incentive. Only AGL, ActewAGL and Origin Energy are permitted to offer regulated contracts. However, just because you are with one of these retailers does not mean that you are on a regulated contract – most customers are not and these retailers also offer the full range of contracts, along with other gas retailers.

If you are unsure what kind of contract you have, you can phone your gas retailer to find out. The regulated offer retailers, their supply area and phone numbers are:

Retailer Supply Area Phone Number
AGL Sydney, Wollongong, Newcastle, Dubbo, Orange, Parkes and parts of the Riverina region 131 245
ActewAGL NSW/ACT border and South East NSW including the Shoalhaven 13 18 86
Origin Energy Albury, Murray Valley area, Wagga Wagga and Tamworth area 13 24 61

I am a household or small business. How will retail gas price deregulation affect me?

There will be no change for customers who have already moved to a market contract. This is the majority of customers in NSW.

For 'small customers' (that is, households and small businesses using less than 1 terajoule of gas per year) who remain on regulated contracts, after gas price regulation is removed the Government will ensure initial price protections during a transition period.

More information on these protections will be provided closer to deregulation.

Will my rights or gas supply change?

Existing customer protection measures will not change once retail gas price regulation is removed.

Customers will still have access to the NSW Gas Rebate, Energy Accounts Payment Assistance (EAPA) scheme, hardship programs, and payment plans. There are also protections around disconnection.

All of these protections will remain unchanged.

The NSW Government will expand the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal's (IPART) existing market monitoring activities for electricity, to include gas. IPART will conduct annual reviews to make sure competition is still effective in NSW.

The monitoring of the gas market will give the NSW Government advanced warning of any changes in competition.

This will allow the Government to act to ensure customers continue to benefit from a competitive market.

What do I need to do?

Nothing. These changes will not come into effect until 1 July 2017 at the earliest, and only if the Government is satisfied with the level of competition in the gas market.

When deregulation occurs, any changes for customers still on the regulated price will happen automatically.

You don't need to wait until 2017 though to look for a new gas offer. If you want to look around for a new offer, the Australian Energy Regulator offers a free and independent comparison service called "Energy Made Easy" at www.energymadeeasy.gov.au.

What happens if I live in the Shoalhaven region or in regional NSW and can't get any other gas deal?

The Department of Industry is in the process of setting up a working group to address the reasons why some customers can only access regulated prices.

This working group will report back to the NSW Government with actions on what it can do to change this situation so that all customers can access competitive offers before regulated retail gas prices are removed.

Presently, we are working with Jemena, the largest gas network in NSW, and with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) to improve gas market competition throughout NSW, including regional areas.

Updates will be made to this page at a later date; on further work the Government has implemented to improve the competitiveness of gas prices in regional NSW and the Shoalhaven area.