In addition to potential savings through improving energy efficiency, there are changes occurring in the energy marketplace that can also reduce costs. The electricity market is currently undergoing reform to introduce greater flexibility and transparency under the National Energy Customer Framework. The aim of this national reform is to ensure customers have consistent information on energy pricing and terms and conditions, which promotes competition in the market place.
Currently South Australia, Tasmania and ACT are part of the National Energy Customer Framework, allowing customers to compare the offerings of a range of retailers, based on their usage patterns. In Tasmania the increased flexibility has resulted in more competition and improved prices for many growers. New South Wales is expected to join the scheme in July 2013, with Queensland and Victoria joining in 2014.
For larger electricity users care should be taken to examine both the fixed costs, i.e. the network tariff, and the variable costs, i.e. the per KWh cost. Because of the highly variable electricity usage patterns associated with irrigation, due to seasonal, rainfall and cropping cycles, the way in which the network tariff is applied can have a major impact on the overall cost of electricity.