Home > Compare Electricity > Compare Electricity South Australia

How to Switch and Save

Compare Electricity South Australia

If you’re living in South Australia, not only are you leading the way in renewables, but you have a smorgasbord of energy retailers in the market offering you fantastic savings. Finding the one that suits you can make a huge difference to your bill.

Read on to find out all about energy in South Australia and how to find the perfect plan.

There’s a lot involved in delivering electricity to your home, and every step contributes to the final cost you see on your bill. Understanding what makes up your charges can help you compare with confidence and find a cheaper bill for your home or business.


  • How does electricity reach my home?

  • How is the South Australian electricity price determined?

  • Compare electricity plans

  • Switch electricity providers

How does electricity reach my home?

Let’s start at the beginning. Long before it powers your home, electricity is generated, transported and finally sold to you. This takes three separate industries, kilometres of infrastructure and a healthy dose of technology. All of this comes with a cost, which is combined to give you the amount you see on your bill. Read on to find out exactly how electricity reaches your home, and the impact the process has on your bill.

Electricity Generation in SA

South Australia looks a bit different to other states, with most of its electricity generated through gas rather than coal. The state’s last coal-fired power station closed in 2016. Currently, most of South Australia’s power is generated using natural gas, followed by wind, diesel and solar. 

SA has made huge steps towards green and renewable energy, with wind farms supplying a significant amount of electricity in the right conditions, and over 200,000 homes fitted with PV solar panels. Renewables SA continues to support and encourage the use of renewable energy by encouraging private investment and managing government funding.

South Australia is part of the National Electricity Market (NEM), managed by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). It is the role of the AEMO to control how much electricity is purchased from each generator and fed into the NEM. This fluctuates depending on demand, which affects the cost of wholesale electricity. A rise in demand leads to increased prices, which are passed on to customers.

Electricity Distributors in SA

Once electricity has passed from the generators to the network, its first stop is the high-voltage transmission network made up of high voltage wires and transmission towers that transport electricity at between 132,000 and 275,000 volts. This high voltage transmission network is managed by ElectraNet in South Australia. 

Electricity is then converted in substations to around 11,000 volts, ready to be distributed along low voltage poles and wires to ground level transformer stations, street pole transformers and pad mount transformers. Here electricity is reduced a final time to around 240 volts, ready to enter your home or business. This low voltage distribution network is managed by  SA Power Networks.

SA Power Networks distributes electricity to over 860,000 customers through a complex network made up of around 400 zone substations, 647,000 Stobie poles and 88,000 kilometres of power lines.

The cost of running the ElectraNet and SA Power Networks is passed on to consumers in your quarterly electricity bill from your retailer.

In addition, during times of peak demand, electricity can be imported into South Australia through the Murraylink (Riverland) and Heywood (Limestone Coast) electricity interconnectors to ensure a consistent supply of power to the state.

Electricity Retailers in SA

Electricity retailers are responsible for customer account management and billing to supply electricity from the distributor to homes and businesses. Retailers need to charge consumers a tariff to cover the costs of generating, distributing and selling electricity. If the expenses of any of these steps goes up, the retailer will pass the increase on to consumers. 

South Australia may be small but it certainly hasn’t been overlooked by electricity retailers. There are over 25 retailers in SA, each with a variety of plans to suit different energy needs. You can read more about South Australia’s energy retailers here.


How is the SA electricity price determined?

Your electricity bill is made up of the cost of generating, distributing and selling electricity (read above for a refresher). Several factors can affect the expenses involved in each of these industries, which are all taken into account to determine the final price of your power.

  • The cost of wholesale electricity

    In South Australia, approximately a quarter of your bill is made up of the wholesale cost of generating electricity. There are several reasons the wholesale electricity prices can fluctuate and affect how much you pay.

    • Transition to renewables. It’s good news for South Australians, with renewable energy working hard to cut the wholesale cost of electricity. Although in other states the transition to renewables has placed a strain on the network, or supply deficits as coal-fired power stations close, in South Australia, the large-scale production of renewable electricity has driven energy prices down.

      In daytime hours, when renewable energy generation is at its peak, there is often excess supply, which pushes prices down. This is thanks to the widespread use of residential solar panels and SA’s large wind-powered electricity generators.

    • Increase in demand. The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) tracks the price of SA electricity and reports on any 30 minute period that exceeds $5,000 per megawatt-hour (MWh) in the NEM.

      AER reports have identified that periods of high prices are caused by an increase in demand for electricity, due to warm temperatures, a reduction in rooftop solar electricity generation and calm conditions reducing wind-powered generation. These factors combine to put an unusually high level of demand on power from the NEM

    • Supply limitations. When demand outweighs supply, the wholesale price that retailers have to pay for electricity is forced up. Supply can be limited for several reasons, including outages and network disruption caused by faults or natural events. 

      Supply issues in South Australia are sometimes further pronounced if there are constraints on the Marraylink and Heywood interconnectors, limiting the ability to increase supply with imported electricity from other states.

  • Rural and remote areas

In South Australia, most residents are serviced by the same distributor – SA Power Networks. However, in remote areas of the state, Cowell Electric Supply has been contracted by the SA government to operate the generation, distribution and retail services of electricity to the majority of remote townships and Aboriginal communities. 

Cowell Electric Supply, along with three independent operators, provides electricity as part of the government’s Remote Areas Energy Supplies (RAES) scheme. The RAES scheme provides safe, reliable and affordable electricity to homes and businesses in remote areas of the state.

Areas covered by the scheme include Andamooka, Coober Pedy and Yunta. The South Australian government subsidises tariffs for residential and commercial customers in these areas (federal and state government customers pay the full, unsubsidised rate). The subsidies reduce the cost of electricity to match the standing offers of customers in the SA Power Networks areas, for both usage rates and the fixed supply charge.

Whilst the subsidies protect customers from unfairly high energy prices, homes and businesses in these areas are paying more for their electricity as there is no competition and no choice of plans.

  • Time of Use (ToU) tariffs

Before 1st July 2020, all SA residents paid a flat-rate electricity tariff, meaning electricity was priced the same at all times of the day and night. This meant SA had the most expensive electricity in the country.

Since the introduction of ToU tariffs, customers can now make huge savings by using cheaper power in off-peak times. In South Australia there are three time periods, each with different rates:

  • Off-peak – 10am to 3pm

  • Shoulder – 1am to 6am

  • Peak – 6am to 10am and 3pm to 1am

The off-peak period in the middle of the day is known as the Solar Sponge Time of Use network tariff. It is set at an extremely low rate to encourage customers to use more energy and ‘soak up’ the excess solar energy being supplied to the grid during these hours.

  • The Default Market Offer (DMO)

The price of electricity in South Australia is protected by the DMO. This is the reference price set by the federal government as part of the national energy legislation and rules to ensure affordable electricity to customers in New South Wales, South-East Queensland and South Australia.

The DMO was introduced in 2018 after a report by the ACCC found that loyal customers were being exploited with expensive ‘standing offers’. The DMO is now the maximum price a retailer can charge. 

The report also found the market was overly confusing, making it hard for customers to effectively compare plans. It is now required that every retailer uses the DMO as a reference price for their market offers, allowing customers to easily compare prices. 

The DMO price is set by the Australian Energy Regulator (AER). They adjust the DMO each year to account for the current market conditions and to reflect the cost of supplying electricity to each distribution area. The DMO can increase as a result of wholesale power or transport going up. If the DMO increases, then your electricity bill will also go up.

You can read all about the DMO here.

What are the charges on my electricity bill?

As you have read, there are a lot of variables that make up your electricity bill. For transparency, you will see a breakdown of the costs on your electricity bill. A typical South Australian electricity bill will include:

  • Wholesale costs the cost to the retailer for the purchase of wholesale power.

  • Network costs the cost of the transmission and distribution networks. The retailer pays the network operators to supply and maintain the network infrastructure, such as the poles and wires. This price is regulated by the AER and reviewed every five years.

  • Retail costs the retailer’s operating costs, including the cost of connecting customers, account management and customer service.

  • Green costs the cost of the federal government’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) and the South Australian Government’s energy efficiency and solar schemes. The retailer can only charge the actual cost of these initiatives.

Compare Electricity Plans in South Australia

Now that you are an expert in all things to do with electricity pricing, you can compare plans with confidence!

With over 25 electricity retailers in SA vying for your business, you can find a variety of discounted rates and special offers that can save you hundreds of dollars each year. Read on to find out how you can save on your bills.

South Australia Electricity Rates and Discounts

Each retailer in SA has a standing offer, which is the maximum rate set by the DMO. If you haven’t compared your bill in several years, then you are probably on your retailer’s standing offer. Look out for market offers, discounts and rewards to get the most from your retailer.

  • Market offers

Market offers set different tariffs and conditions to match a range of different energy needs. The rates set in a market offer are below the DMO, so there are significant savings to be made by finding one that suits you.

In South Australia, solar sponge tariffs are common Time of Use (ToU) rates that offer extremely low prices for off-peak energy between 10am and 3pm, to encourage customers to use the large amount of solar electricity being generated during this time.

As well as discounted rates, market offers often include additional benefits such as guaranteed fixed rates, solar feed-in tariffs and bonuses for items such as electric vehicles or Virtual Power Plants (VPPs).

  • Discounts and credits

You might also find retailers offering sign up credits, discounts for paying on time and rewards for bundling your services with one provider. 

It’s important to fully understand these conditional discounts before you sign up. Most offers and discounts are valid for 12 months, and after that, you will be transferred to a more expensive standing offer. 

Make sure you compare your bill with CheapBills every 12 months to avoid paying more than you should.

  • Other incentives and rewards

With so many retailers in the South Australian market, you will find much more than discounted rates to compare and save. Some of the most common perks include discounts from partner companies bundled into your plan, such as 12 months of free access to Kayo with Alinta Energy’s Sport Pack. 

Several retailers also have rewards programs where you can redeem points for discounts on shopping, entertainment or holidays. Origin, Alinta, AGL and Lumo Energy all have enticing rewards shops for South Australian customers, which can give you hundreds of dollars in additional savings.

  • South Australia Electricity Concessions

The South Australian Government offers the Energy Bill Concessions and the SA Concessions Energy Discount to low or fixed-income households. The concession from this scheme can be claimed in addition to any discounts or offers from your retailer. 

To be eligible, you must hold one of the following cards or concessions: Pensioner Concession Card, DVA Gold Card, Low Income Health Care Card, Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, JobSeeker Payment, Widow Allowance, Youth Allowance, Partner Allowance. Parenting Payment, Special Benefit, Community Development Project (CDP), New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS), ABSTUDY, Austudy, Farm Household Allowance (FHA), War widow pension under legislation of the United Kingdom or New Zealand.

Eligible customers receive $233.60 per year (in 2022) to cover energy payments including electricity, gas, LPG and petrol.

Contact your energy retailer or visit SA.gov.au for more information.

South Australia Energy Plans

South Australians are lucky enough to have a wide choice of retailers and plans to choose from, and the best one will be the one that suits your unique needs. Below are some of our favourite retailers on the market. You can read our full list of retailers here.


Chances are you have heard of EnergyAustralia! With more than 1.7 million customers, they are one of Australia’s ‘Big Three’ energy generators and retailers. They offer their services nationwide, including electricity, gas and NBN.

  • Our favourite feature

EnergyAustralia is one of our preferred providers, so there’s plenty we love! Their customer service is second to none, proven by the fact they have won the Global Review Award for Digital Customer Experience for six years running for their exceptional customer service and innovative customer experience.

  • Our favourite plan

Our favourite EnergyAustralia plan for residential customers in South Australia is the No Frills Electricity and Gas Plan. This electricity and gas bundle gives you a 5% discount on the DMO price for electricity and a low 3.96 cents per MJ for gas, guaranteed for 12 months. Plus there are no exit fees and the plan is 100% carbon neutral. There is an additional $50 credit available for signing up online, and if you also bundle your NBN plan, you can save another $10 per month.

There are many other options available, giving you the chance to tailor a plan to meet your needs.

To switch your plan to EnergyAustralia call CheapBills on 1300 786 045 or enter your details here

Lumo Energy

Lumo Energy offers electricity and gas to residents of Victoria and South Australia. They are Australian owned and operated, and are part of the Snowy Hydro Limited family.

  • Our favourite feature

Lumo Energy is a great choice for customers looking for a smaller, local retailer. Plus, with Snowy Hydro as their parent company, you can be sure your energy is helping the transition to renewables.

  • Our favourite plan

Our favourite plan is the Lumo Basic electricity and gas bundle. This plan offers a huge 14% of the DMO reference price, as well as extremely low off-peak rates. You will also enjoy a guaranteed price for 12 months, no lock-in contract and no exit fees. The plan comes with access to Lumo Rewards, where you can redeem points for discounts with some of the biggest brands in Australia including Coles, Woolworths, Myer, Event cinemas, Ticketmaster and many more.

To move your electricity to Lumo Energy visit www.lumoenergy.com.au or call 1300 115 866

To browse more retailers available in South Australia, and find the best one for you, see our full list here.

Switch Electricity Providers in South Australia

Hopefully, this guide has shown you the expert knowledge that goes into comparing your electricity bill. If you are ready to make the switch, there are a couple of steps you should take first. 

To compare energy plans, you need to understand what you are looking for. This means you need to review and understand your home or businesses energy habits, such as the time of day you use the most energy, how much energy you use from the grid compared to PV solar panels and if you have any heavy load appliances such as underfloor heating, an electric vehicle or a swimming pool.

You should also have a budget in mind, by assessing your current financial situation such as home loans, credit cards, life insurance, health insurance and any other financial commitments.

With this information, our comparison service can find you a range of plans to suit your needs and help you make an informed decision.

How do I switch?

Switching energy providers will save you hundreds, but it can also be time-consuming. Make the switch without the stress by using a comparison tool like CheapBills. Our experts can recommend a plan from our panel of preferred suppliers and help you make the switch, all in one easy phone call. 

Call CheapBills on 1300 786 045 or enter your details here.

Related articles

Get started today

Our staff will help you find the best electricity rate for your family.

Win a FREE rewards card

Enter into the competition by switching your provider to get a chance to Win $1000 Master/ Visa Prepaid Card