Help & support

If you have any questions about your electricity needs, call us on 13 23 76. We’re here to help. You can even sign up while you’re on the phone with us.

Alternatively, we’ve put together some information below that might be helpful.

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Glossary of terms

Basic meter

See meter types.

c/kWh

Cents per kilowatt hour is the amount that you pay for each kilowatt hour of electricity that you use. You can find this on your electricity bill.

Cooling off period

When you sign up with an electricity provider on a Market Retail Contract, you have a 10-business day cooling off period, where you can cancel the contract without any penalties. Note, that ERM Business Energy does not have penalties or exit fees for small business customers, even if it’s outside the cooling off period.

Daily supply charge

A charge that applies for supplying electricity to your property for each day of the billing period, regardless of how much electricity you use.

Distributor (or Network Provider)

Distributors own the ‘poles and wires’ that get the electricity to your premises. They also usually own the meters that measure your usage. They are in charge of ensuring consistent and reliable supply of electricity and you call them if you lose power, experience a fault or if it’s an emergency.

Energy Price Fact Sheet

All providers are required to provide small business customers with Energy Price Fact Sheets, which are standardised documents that explain in detail their pricing structure and key terms and conditions. They are required by the energy regulator and designed to allow customers to compare providers more easily. View our Energy Price Fact Sheets.

Exit fee

The fee that some providers charge should you break a contract. ERM Business Energy does not charge small business customers an exit fee if you cancel your contract.

Kilowatt hour (kWh)

‘kWh’ stands for kilowatt hour and is the unit of measurement for your electricity usage. A kWh is equivalent to using 1000 watts for one hour.

Market contract (also Market Retail Contract)

A Market Retail Contract is a contract negotiated between you and a provider. It has a minimum set of terms and conditions, but otherwise can vary between providers. Market Retail Contracts may cost less than being on a Standard Retail Contract. You should shop around for one that best suits your needs.

Meter Types

When we talk about different meter types, we are referring to the differences between a basic meter and a smart meter.

Basic meter: a mechanical style meter that is only able to record and display a cumulative total of the amount of electricity your business uses and is required to be read manually by a meter reader.

Smart meter: an electronic meter that is able to record multiple channels of data in 30 minute intervals and can be connected to a modem that will allow it to be remotely read.

MRIM: a Manually Read Interval Meter (MRIM), which is usually a basic meter, but in some cases it can be smart and is able to be read remotely.

Meter reading

Your meter measures how much electricity your premises uses. When your meter is read, either remotely or in person by a meter-reader, your previous meter reading is subtracted from the current meter reading to give you the amount of electricity you’ve used this period. If it’s not possible for your meter to be read in a period, your electricity usage may be estimated based on previous usage.

NMI

NMI stands for National Metering Identifier. It is a unique number used to identify each registered metering point. You can find this number on your bill and you should be able to see it on your meter.

Single Rate Tariff

A Single Rate Tariff is when your electricity is always charged at the same tariff, regardless of the time of day. That is, peak or off-peak rates won’t apply to your electricity bill. This is most common where you have a basic meter at your premises.

Small Business

From an energy usage perspective, if you spend less than $30,000 per year on electricity, we consider you to be a small business. If you spend more than that on electricity, you should have a look at our big business information.

Smart meter

See Meter Types.

Standing offer (or Standard Retail Contract)

The default contract offered by providers, with set terms and conditions that the provider cannot change [source: AER website]. You may be on a Standard Retail Contract if you have never switched providers. Generally, it would be more expensive for a customer to stay on this contract than to move to a Market Retail Contract. When providers offer discounts, the prices in the Standing Offer are often the base price to which the discount is applied.

Tariff

There are a couple of common ways the word tariff is used. Your distributor allocates you a tariff type that is based on the capability of your meter and your historical usage (among other factors). The word tariff is also often used to refer to the pricing arrangement of the electricity provider – the price you pay for your electricity. The provider’s tariff usually depends on the tariff type or structure allocated by your distributor. For example, if your distributor has allocated you a “time of use” tariff, your provider will apply their prices (tariffs) that apply to that tariff type and will be a certain number of cents per kilowatt hour for the different times of day. Another business in your area may be allocated a Single Rate Tariff as they have a basic meter. Your provider will apply a single cents per kilowatt hour price to that business’s electricity usage.

Time of Use Tariff (TOU)

A Time of Use Tariff means that you would be charged at different rates at different times of the day. In off-peak times, such as overnight, the tariff amount would be less than in peak times. Not all customers are eligible for time of use tariffs because they don’t have a meter that supports this type of charging. For more information on meters see Meter Types.

Usage charge

This is the cost of the electricity you actually use. It’s your usage in kilowatt hours (which is read from your meter) multiplied by the cents per kilowatt hour price (or tariff) that your provider charges you.

Frequently asked questions

Something you’re not sure of? Our frequently asked questions may be just what you need.

Becoming a customer

Small business (Less than $30K)

Signing up – General

Why do you need my business address to give me a quote?

Our online quoting system searches a national electricity database maintained by AEMO to find the specific information on your address, such as who your distributor is and what type of meter you have. We do this because the price you pay for electricity depends on a number of factors that we take into account when preparing your quote.

The price that applies to your premises depends on:

  • The distribution company (or distributor) that owns and maintains the poles and wires in your local area. Each distributor passes through different costs to us as your provider, which we then incorporate in your rates.
  • The type of meter you have. The sophistication of the electricity meter at your premises determines whether you can be charged different prices for different times of day eg: peak, off-peak and shoulder.
  • The tariff assigned to you by your distributor. The rules for how tariff types are assigned are different for each distributor, and are usually based on your meter type and historical usage.
  • The regulations in your State or Territory relating to price regulation and Government environmental schemes, which also form part of your price.

Will my electricity be turned off at any time when I switch?

No. Unless you are moving premises, your electricity supply is not turned off at any time during the transfer from one provider to another. The process only involves paperwork on the side of the providers you’re switching from and to. Your electricity supply is not affected.

Why does it take so long to transfer to a new provider?

In areas where electricity meters are read manually by someone visiting your premises, transferring providers can take some time. This is because some meters are only read quarterly, and transfers can generally only take place after your meter is read by your distributor so your original providers can issue your final bill. After that final meter read, your new provider can bill any further usage.

Transfers happen faster in areas where smart meters are installed because the final meter read can be done remotely, without the need for a visit to your premises. A special meter read can also be arranged to speed up the transfer process. An additional charge usually applies for this.

Product/Pricing

Why is my price different to other businesses and what I pay at home?

Electricity prices vary from location to location, sometimes even within suburbs.  Also, small businesses can pay different prices to larger businesses and residential customers.

The prices that small businesses will pay in your specific location depends on:

  • The distribution company (or distributor) that owns and maintains the poles and wires in your local area. Each distributor passes through different costs to us as your provider, which we then incorporate in your rates.
  • The type of meter you have. The sophistication of the electricity meter at your premises determines whether you can be charged different prices for different times of day eg: peak, off-peak and shoulder.
  • The tariff assigned to you by your distributor. The rules for how tariff types are assigned are different for each distributor, and are usually based on your meter type and historical usage.
  • The regulations in your State or Territory relating to price regulation and Government environmental schemes, which also form part of your price.

How often do electricity prices change?

Wholesale electricity prices can vary considerably from time to time. However, your provider generally takes the risk of these fluctuations and smooths out the retail price for you.

The terms of the Market Retail Contract will govern how often, and the circumstances in which your retail price may change. Some providers change retail prices regularly. ERM Business Energy’s adjustable rate offer only varies once per calendar year.

Your retail price may also change if your distributor changes your tariff. Remember, they don’t bill you directly. Providers like us do it for them – so we must also take into account the changes in prices from the distributors.

What does c/kWh mean?

c/kWh means cents per kilowatt hour. It is the unit of measurement for electricity usage costs. Electricity usage is measured in kilowatt hours and you are charged by the kilowatt hour you use. You also pay a Daily Supply Charge which is not linked to your usage.

When can prices change for the Adjustable Rate?

Our Adjustable Rate is reviewed only once per calendar year. The most common reason for price changes are as a result of distributors changing their network charges/daily supply charges.

Distributors review their charges once per year – different distributors do this at different times of the year so we review our Adjustable prices at around the same time. For example, Energex in South East Queensland changes their pricing effective 1 July, so our prices there will be reviewed shortly after. In contrast, Jemena in Victoria revise their pricing structures effective 1 January, so we follow shortly after.

In some circumstances, your distributor might change the structure or nature of your underlying tariff (for example, if you install solar units), which means we would need to change the basis of your price accordingly.

When can prices change for the Fixed Rate?

If you sign up for our Fixed Rate, your price will be not changed by us during the term of your contract. We will contact you with a new price offer prior to the end of the term of your contract.

In rare circumstances, your distributor might change the structure or nature of your underlying tariff (for example, if you install solar units, or change the way you use electricity at your premises), which means we would need to change the basis of your price accordingly.

What happens when my Fixed Rate Contract term ends?

Before your Fixed Rate Contract term ends, we will contact you to find out what you would like to do. We will provide you with our current pricing and give you the option of renewing on a market contract with us on at that price. If you choose not to take up that offer with us or sign up with another provider, you will revert to our standing offer rates after the end of the term or until your transfer from us has occurred.

Do you offer discounts?

At ERM Business Energy we recognise that conditional discount deals and special offers can be confusing and make your choice of supplier more complicated than it needs to be. So, we are committed to always offering you our best, competitive price every day and being completely transparent about what you will be paying.

Billing

My bill says I’m on a Standing Offer? What does that mean?

A standing offer is the contract and rates that providers are obligated to offer. It is generally more expensive than a market contract. If your bill says that you’re on a standing offer, you should review your electricity bills immediately, and consider the benefits of signing up to a Market Retail Contract with a provider. Of course, we’d like that provider to be us.

How often do I get billed?

We know that managing cash flow is important to businesses, so it’s good to know when to expect your bills. Our billing cycle is dependent on the type of meter you have, and how often your distributor reads your meter.

If you have a basic meter which is read manually (i.e. a person comes to your premises to check the meter), we will bill you quarterly.

If you have an MRIM (Manually Read Interval Meter) which can be read monthly, we can bill you monthly, but this is dependent on how often your distributor reads your meter.

If you have a smart meter, your meter can be read remotely at any time, and therefore we can bill you monthly.