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Australia - Electricity

The electrical system in Australia works on a system of 230 volts. You should ensure that if you have appliances which you have brought from another country that you have an adapter which will convert the current, otherwise the appliance can break. This will apply particularly to appliances brought into Australia by US expats.

The electricity supply companies that will be available to you will depend greatly upon the state that you are living in. Some states have large numbers of suppliers which gives a good amount of competition in the market place, but there are others which have only one supplier and therefore give the consumer no choice. However, the electricity supply industry is dominated by a few large companies that are competing with smaller suppliers. The main companies are AGL, Energy Australia, Origin Energy and TRUenergy. These four companies supply more than 75% of the population.

The vast majority of households in Australia do now have freedom of choice when it comes to finding a supplier. This means that in order to try to win business, companies need to supply accurate and up to date information on all aspects of their business, from prices to billing and information on how the electricity is generated.

Every company is slightly different and it is important to look into the service you get before choosing. Most will have a range of tariffs so that you can choose one that will suit the needs of your family. You should consider if the supplier has an incentive for you to sign with them and many offer loyalty rewards for customers that remain with them. Most will offer the chance to save if you opt to have your gas and electricity provided by the same supplier. Ask if there is a fixed term contract as you may find you are tied to the same supplier for a long period of time. Many suppliers are now opting to produce electricity from renewable sources and these suppliers may be more attractive to those who are environmentally aware.

As with the UK there are websites that help you to examine all these details of a company at once in order to determine the right supplier for you. It is worth using one of these sites when you arrive to help you to find out which ones supply electricity to your area. It is simply a case of entering your postcode and waiting to see which plans are available to you.

In the Capital Territory TRUenergy, Energy Australia and ActewAGL are the suppliers which are available to residential customers. These are also available in NSW and a number of smaller suppliers in addition to the larger companies. The same companies supply customers in Queensland and South Australia. In Tasmania the only supplier is Aurora Energy. Victoria is supplied by all the main suppliers and a few smaller companies such as Country Energy and Origin Energy. When you have chosen your supplier you simply contact them to arrange to become a customer. The requirements of each company varies but most will ask for proof of identification, proof of address and/or proof of residency status.

Power cuts are generally not common but they do occur. Most people stay prepared and keep candles in the house. They are more likely to occur in remote areas, although some houses in the country are not able to receive mains electric and have their own generators.

Some homes may have two readings to be taken from their electricity meter if they make use of off-peak rates as well as standard. Electricity meters vary in Australia from digital versions to clock dial versions. As with the UK, meters are read every few months and bills are sent out quarterly. Bills will show average consumption and some companies detail how much your electricity consumption is affecting the environment. It is common for bills to be paid by direct debit but they can also be paid in cash, with a cheque or with a debit card over the counter at a bank or post office. Some bills may be estimated and in this case you can supply a meter reading and request a bill which reflects your actual usage.

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