Should I switch to the new energy retailer in Tasmania?

With the arrival of a new energy retailer 1st Energy, Tasmanians finally have a choice. Should you switch?

... Maybe so, but you should make sure you're well informed first. We hope our research below helps with your decision.

All of 1st Energy's tariff prices are practically identical to Aurora's (they are rounded down after the 4th significant figure, but this will make no appreciable difference to your bills), with two key differences depending on which plan you select.

  • With their 1st Solar Bonus plan you get an extra 5 c/kWh on the solar feed-in tariff on top of whatever you currently get with Aurora*. 1st Energy have confirmed the extra 5 c/kWh is guaranteed for 12 months from the time you sign up. If the Economic Regulator changes the minimum feed-in tariff (as they generally do each July) then 1st Energy will offer an extra 5 c/kWh on top of that.
  • With the 1st Saver plan you get all the same tariff prices as Aurora (including the solar feed-in tariff), but if you pay your bill on time you get a discount of 5% on your usage charges (not the total bill amount).

Generally, if you have solar panels you'll be better off on the 1st Solar Bonus plan (the exception being if you have a small solar panel system and high consumption), otherwise you'll be best off on the 1st Saver plan.

Note that Aurora Energy give a $5 discount if you pay your bill by direct debit. If you have low energy usage, this could amount to more than the 5% discount on usage charges under 1st Energy's 1st Saver plan.

With 1st Energy, you are on an ongoing contract with a review after 12 months and no exit fees, however if you are on the 1st Saver plan and want to leave then you'll lose your 5% discount on your last bill.

Both retailers offer the same discounts and concessions (as these are government funded) and both appear to have similar additional fees, which both 1st Energy and Aurora hide in the fine print.

Above are only the financial considerations. Customer service is another aspect you should consider. Both retailers have plenty of poor reviews online (1 star average from 44 reviews for 1st Energy, and 1.4 star average from 22 reviews for Aurora), so if you're keen on switching because you haven't enjoyed dealing with Aurora, maybe don't get your hopes up too high.

We were also keen to learn who is behind 1st Energy. The Managing Director, Liam Foden, has at least 15 years experience working with energy retailers. They are 30% owned by ERM Power - one of Australia's largest energy retailers. We're not sure who else owns shares.

So, there you have it... Take a chance with the new kid on the block who has better pricing, or stick with the devil you know? Before you sign up to anything be sure to check the fine print and detail.  

For further information contact:

  • 1st Energy 1300 426 594
  • Aurora Energy  1300 13 2003. Maybe ask if they are going to increase their feed-in tariff in or give discounts in light of new competition.  

* If you're on the legacy feed-in tariff then you get 13.541 c/kWh with Aurora and 18.541 c/kWh with 1st Energy; otherwise you get 8.541 c/kWh with Aurora and 13.541 c/kWh with 1st Energy

Note that some details may have changed since this article was first published on 20 Feb 2019.

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