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The Impact of Deregulation on Australia's Electricity Market

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The Impact of Deregulation on Australia's Electricity Market

Deregulation in the electricity market is one of the major economic issues, especially in Australia. The electricity market is the keystone of the state economy as it impacts businesses, households, and GDP. The objective is to address the market of Australian electricity deregulation, especially recognising its effect on pricing, competition, and innovation.

Australian electricity market movements show that market elements are changing and becoming more competitive and flexible. Essential policies, like the National Electricity Market reforms, came into force right at the time when those new players were looking for an opportunity to enter the market, and to create an enabling environment for the new participants. 


Background: Deregulation of the Electricity Market

Deregulation of electric markets means dismantle or restricting authority controls that set price and service limits. Intention is to drive the competition among players automatically that will result in improved execution, innovation and customer service. With a deregulated market, numerous providers can generate and sell electricity, and thus challenge established utility monopolies.

Electricity market of Australia has undergone deregulation for a number of decades now. The notable achievements include developing a National Electricity Market (NEM) in 1998 which was initiated to bring markets together then after retail market deregulation. Under this change, shoppers gained the advantage of choosing their best electricity retailer and motivated competitive practices that could lead to lower prices.

Before deregulation, Australian electricity market was mostly supplied by “vertically integrated utilities” which were responsible for generation, distribution and retail services. It often times produced price hikes and little to no innovation as in the case of the monopolistic structure. Consequently, the competition got tougher and the market diversity went up.

As an example, New South Wales, the number of retailers has grown from very few by the early 2000s to more than 20 recently with an average retail price decrease of around 10 % over a decade. This change represents major shifts in the electricity market after reformation, when competition and choice have enlarged significantly.

Economic Impacts of Deregulation

The effect of deregulation on electricity market from the economic perspective cannot be overestimated – money is considered. Specifically, on price and competition.


Lower Prices

Deregulation may cause a reduction in price of electricity. It introduces the competition among providers, companies are forced by the competition to offer attractive prices in order to attract the customers. In this way, competition is usually the main source of innovations and productivity which can also decrease the cost.

In particular, there have been some states in Australia in which electricity prices in the post-deregulation state are lower than earlier. Similarly, in the case of Victoria, which adopted complete retail competition earlier on, they witnessed a 5% decrease in household electricity prices over the past 5 years mostly due to increased competition and market efficiency.


Market Competition

By taking away the restraints, deregulation has led to an increased number of competitors, which again is of the advantage of both consumers and enterprises. Now consumers are greatly beneficiated in having more providers and can choose the one that serves them in the best possible manner. With no need to tailor themselves as they would before, prices are normally cheaper and consumers get package preferences like better services.

Competitive climate has pushed businesses and innovations to the level where businesses have become much more efficient. Through better customer servicing and crafting new technologies like smart meters and green energy options, companies are trying to keep themselves above the competition.


Price Comparison

The analysis of the electricity prices during the past five years in the context of deregulation can suggest the extent of its impact. In the case of a fully deregulated state like New South Wales and Victoria, we have witnessed a pattern in which residential electricity prices in general either decreased or stabilized.

Where regulation remains, price swings have become more intense and occasional increases in price have been recorded. This indicates that deregulation and increased competition are likely to result in an economic situation with stable prices, often lower than the average level.


Environmental Impacts of Deregulation

A liberalisation of the power market in Australia has led to considerable environmental effect especially relative to the share of alternative sources of energy and carbon emissions.


Renewable Energy

Deregulation has driven the expansion of renewables in the electricity market. With the market competition opened up, deregulation has led to investing in alternative energy technologies as companies try to stand apart from each other and provide alternatives to consumers who want more sustainable choices. In Australia, this has led to a substantial increase in renewable energy generation. The share of electricity generated from renewable sources rose from about 15% in 2010 to over 30% in 2024, driven largely by competitive market dynamics and supportive policies.


Carbon Emissions

The movement to renewable energy in a deregulated environment on the carbon emissions has also been affecting. As energy competition rises and there is a greater interest in sustainability, more and more electricity suppliers shift from fossil fuels to cleaner renewable energies.

This transformation has indeed resulted in the carbon emission within the Australian electricity sector take a sharp fall. In the period from 2015 to 2024, emissions from electricity production have dropped by 20% because of deregulation, which made it possible for cleaner energy technologies to take their place.


Figures on Renewable Energy and Carbon emissions

Before deregulation, the contribution of renewable energy to Australian electricity generation was negligible in size. But when the market was open, it was the share of renewables who increased. On the other hand, carbon emissions have been decreasing continuously, which is another indicator that the deregulation had a markedly favourable influence on the development of sustainable energy sources.


Consumer Experience and Satisfaction

Deregulation has had a considerable impact on the consumer preference in the Australian power industry. Through the elimination of monopolies and the stimulation of competition, electricity market became both helpful for consumers as they are now able to choose from the list of providers and plans customized to their needs. Now, this freedom of choice is the main point in consumers shopping around, comparing prices and selecting the services that matter to them.

After electricity deregulation in states such as New South Wales and Victoria, customers have the ability to choose among the 20+ energy retailers available as each offers a different price structure, type of renewable energy support, and packaging service. Nowadays, this diversity has generated a consumer focused market where providers compare each other in price, service quality, and innovation.


Customer Satisfaction

Customer happiness generally has become a benefit of deregulation thanks to the freedom of choice and competition for the market players. The results of the most recent surveys show higher satisfaction from consumers of electric power in the deregulated market systems against those in regulated markets.

The case of Victoria, for instance, a 2023 survey showed that 78% of customers was satisfied with their melbourne electricity provider, and reasons were basically the competitive rates, reliable services, and green energy options. This suggests that effective deregulation can enhance customer satisfaction by creating a more responsive and competitive market.


Satisfaction Data

Survey data consistently shows higher customer satisfaction in deregulated markets, indicating that increased choice and competition positively influence consumer experiences. This has led to a more dynamic and customer-centric electricity market in Australia.


Regulatory Challenges and Future Outlook


Whereas deregulation provides many benefits, it has also created a number of regulatory challenges as well. One of the most important issues is that of providing fair competition. With the coming of new joiners, other companies may bring inability to keep their position through unfair competition by predatory price among others. It is important to have strict regulation of this to ensure that there is no monopolistic behavior, and small competitors are also protected.

However, the matter of keeping up the reliability in a de-regulated market is also not as straightforward. Market based instruments could lead to insufficient investments in critical infrastructure and if there is an imbalance, it will be up to the regulators to ensure there is enough grid investment and to safeguard grid reliability.

Regulation of the consumers is another issue that the law must consider. Due to greater competitive pressure there are also the chance of misleading marketing procedures and people being confused by difficult tariff rules. In order to provide transparency, Energy retailers in Sydney or melbourne or any other Australian state need to supply clear information and prevent deceiving practices.


Future Developments


Australia’s electricity market deregulation is showing some positive trends, as these are pointing towards expansion of consumer preferences, especially towards renewable energy integration. Leaders of the transition who are predicting an increase in competition believe that it will be a major game changer especially in terms of energy storage and smart grid technology.

Also, the market consolidation may continue, as the smaller firms may find it difficult to compete with the big players, resulting in a wave of mergers and acquisitions and a new competitive landscape.

Considering Australia is moving to a low-carbon environment, the regulatory framework will need to shift to help renewable energy and at the same time ensure grid stability. Policy makers will likely be aimed at the promotion of green energy investments and innovations as well as the parallel deregulation in the light of sustainability goals.



Briefly, this can be concluded that de-regulation of the cheap electricity market brings, increased competition as well as heightened attention to renewable energy. Though this changes have mostly provided advantages, they also bring some regulatory challenges among them is competition and reliability.

When looking to the future, it is believed that another revolution awaits the market to offer more and more sustainable solutions. Yet, while both of these goals are necessary, effective regulatory oversight will play a critical role in striking the balance between market freedoms, consumers’ protection, and the infrastructure investment. Overall, deregulation has transformed Australia’s electricity market, creating a more dynamic and consumer-centric environment that shows great potential for future developments.