If you lease an industrial or commercial property, you might be getting your electricity through an 'embedded network'.
In an embedded network, the building or site has a single connection point to the electricity grid. Electricity is then distributed to occupants using the site's internal network.
The site owner (or the building manager) owns and runs this network. They would generally bulk-buy electricity from an electricity retailer and 'on-sell' this to the occupants.
Each occupant usually has a sub-meter installed to measure their electricity use. The site owner will charge you for:
- the amount of electricity you use (i.e. the 'peak usage' or 'kilowatt-hour' charge, and the 'demand charge' if that also applies)
- a share of the distribution charges the site owner pays to their retailer for connection to the grid (the 'supply charge')
- a share of the electricity used in the building's common areas.
Customer choice of electricity supplier
Customers connected to embedded networks have the right to either get electricity (the kilowatt-hour component) from the site owner or from a preferred authorised electricity retailer, providing that retailer is willing to make an offer. Even if you get electricity from your preferred retailer, you may still have to pay a supply charge to the site owner for the use of electricity infrastructure.
Regional Queensland customers can also choose their own electricity retailer, but only if that retailer is willing to make an offer.
Switching electricity suppliers
If you're thinking of switching to a retailer, here's what you should do:
- Ask your site owner or manager whether your meter is suitable and about any possible technical issues. Meters installed after 1 January 2012 are likely to be suitable – if not you’ll need a new meter.
- Compare electricity deals, including the offer from your current electricity retailer. Small businesses, those using less than 100 megawatt-hours of electricity per year, can compare and choose available electricity deals offered by any electricity retailers using Energy Made Easy.
- Talk to electricity retailers and make sure you tell them you're in an embedded network. Ask them:
- the cost to install a new meter, if needed
- their best 'energy only' offer (excluding the network supply charge).
Your energy rights
Whether you buy electricity from an authorised electricity retailer or the site owner, you have access to a range of consumer protections.
Remember, you are not locked into any agreement for electricity supply with the site owner and can choose to move to an electricity retailer if you want to, providing the retailer is willing to make an offer.
You are entitled to 10 days, the ‘cooling off’ period, to change your mind after signing the contract. You can go back to your site owner if you’re not happy with your new retailer. Just contact your retailer and site owner to make arrangements. Exit fees and early termination fees in Queensland are capped at $20.
If you want to install a solar or battery system, you'll need the permission of the site owner.
- Compare energy offers at Energy made easy.
- Find out more about changes to embedded network rules.
- Find out about your electricity consumer rights and how to make a complaint.