It's Power Week here at Gizmodo Australia, where we'll look at the basics of the juice that runs all our highly prized gadgets, how you can maximise it and what the future holds. First up: You can't have power week without the basics of power, but pricing remains a highly contentious issue. There's a lot of posturing regarding how much we pay for power, but how much is it on a state by state basis?
This used to be a rather fixed price monopoly situation, with most users simply using their region-based provider's power because that's all there was; with deregulation of the market it's a rather more complex situation, especially depending on your usage scenario. Still, there's no doubt that power is costly stuff, and it's not something that's likely to get cheaper any time soon.
Some providers offer a combination of power and gas. Most offer green alternatives, but most of them charge more for the privilege. Switch providers and you may get a month or two of reduced rates. Virtually nobody lists a flat "price" for power anywhere, making it an absolute minefield for consumers to wade through.
So for the purposes of comparison, I've used a number of different comparison websites to draw up a rough table; this isn't intended to be a complete definitive list, but more of a guide to expectations; nor is it an endorsement of any particular site or electricity provider. For each state, I've chosen the most basic postcode and a home environment of three bedrooms and five occupants, and taken the "average" yearly estimate from each site, both high and low.
Queensland SwitchWise: $2585-$3975 iSelect: $1658-$2162 Shoparound: $2634.44-$3637.44
New South Wales SwitchWise: $2597-$4731 iSelect: $1693-$2305 ShopAround: $2748.97-$4364.49
Victoria SwitchWise: $1889-$2816 iSelect: $1753-$2217 Shoparound: $2424.23-$3037.43
South Australia SwitchWise: $2803-$4374 iSelect: $2224-$2438 Shoparound: $2996.71-$3956.58
Tasmania SwitchWise: $3989-$4872 iSelect: Not listed Shoparound: Not listed
Western Australia SwitchWise: $2828-$3576 iSelect: Not listed Shoparound: Not listed
Northern Territory SwitchWise: No products available with those specifications (site lists estimate of $2826 - $2950) iSelect: Not listed Shoparound: Not listed
ACT SwitchWise: $2022-$3935 iSelect: Not listed Shoparound: Not listed
One obvious observation here is that iSelect either knows of much cheaper plans, or presumes on a much lower usage rate than SwitchWise or Shoparound; for what it's worth, iSelect's energy carrier list appears to be much smaller than that used by SwitchWise, even in those states where they compete head to head.
However, there does seem to be broad agreement in the figures; if you want cheap power, move to Victoria. I'm not based there, though — how do those figures match up with Victorian reality?