There are many terms you may come across when communicating with your energy or water provider regarding your bill, supply or other issues. Our glossary will help you understand commonly used terminology.


Actual meter read
Consumption data recorded from your meter when it has been accessed either remotely or by a meter reader.

Account holder
The person who has established the account in their name. The account holder will be listed on the bill.

Account number
The unique reference number your retailer uses to identify your account.

A person authorised by a customer to act on their behalf and with whom EWON will liaise regarding a complaint. An advocate could be a family member or community worker. 

Authorised party
A person an account holder gives permission for the retailer or distributor to speak with about their account. Without this authority the retailer or distributor can only speak with the account holder.

Authority to Act
The provision of authorisation by one person to another person (the advocate) to act on their behalf. Authorisation can be provided verbally or in writing, depending on the relationship.

Australian Energy Regulator (AER)
The national government body that regulates the energy industry. New South Wales’ electricity and gas industries come under the jurisdiction of the Australian Energy Regulator.

Average daily cost
The dollar value of your average daily electricity, gas or water use.

Average daily use
The average amount of electricity, gas or water that you use each day over a specified period.


A bill issued either after a delay or when a customer has been undercharged. 

Basic meter
A meter that records consumption on a cumulative basis and is manually read. 

Battery storage
Electricity stored in a battery located at a home or business. Electricity generated by a solar system or other renewable energy electricity system can be stored for usage at times when the solar system or renewable energy system is not generating power. 

An assistance program offered by Sydney Water for customers who are experiencing long-term financial difficulties.

Billing period
The supply period covered by each bill, usually a quarter.

Bill smoothing 
An arrangement made between a customer and retailer to pay an agreed amount on a regular basis to even out energy payments. Payment amounts may be adjusted if consumption increases or decreases over time.  

Bulk hot water system  - see common hot water system


Catch up bill
A bill issued after one or more bills based on estimated meter read(s). 

A billing service for customers who receive a Centrelink benefit. Deductions are made from the benefit before the customer receives it and are paid directly to the customer’s electricity, gas or water account. 

Common factor - see conversion factor

Common hot water system
A single hot water system which supplies each unit in a building. The hot water is then piped through the building to individual units. Also known as a bulk hot water system. 

Allowances granted by the government for consumers in particular situations. Concessions include the low-income household rebate, medical energy rebate, life support, family energy rebate, and gas rebate. 

The establishment of your electricity, gas or water supply.  The process of commencement of supply at your premises. 

The amount of electricity, gas or water you use. Sometimes referred to as use or usage. 

The agreement you have accepted or signed with your retailer, which includes the terms and conditions of your supply.

Contract discount
A discount that may be applied by your retailer to your bill under your market contract. 

Controlled load supply  
An electricity supply limited by an electricity distributor to certain times of the day or night, often used for off-peak hot water.

Controlled load meter 
A meter that measures the controlled load supply.

Conversion factor
The calculation made by dividing the amount of gas used to heat the water in the common hot water system by the total amount of cold water that enters the system. This calculation is made by the gas distributor and is used to work out the megajoules you will be charged on your gas bill for your hot water consumption.


Daily access/supply charge – see Service availability charge

Declining block tariff
A charge per kilowatt hour or megajoule that reduces for consumption over certain amounts. You will find information about your tariff structure in your retail contract. 

Deemed retail contract
A contract that will be in place by default as soon as you start using electricity or gas at a property without having entered into a contract with a retailer.

See Disconnection

Delivery Point Identifier (DPI)
 A unique gas connection number, which links with a customer’s premises. This number is allocated by the network operator and can be found on your gas bill. 

Designated retailer
The energy retailer who is financially responsible for a premises. Where there is no existing connection (for example, a newly built house) the designated retailer is the local area retailer for the geographical area. 

Digital meter  
A type of meter fitted with a communication device that enables consumption data to be recorded at least every 30 minutes and transmitted remotely. It can also be used to disconnect and reconnect supply remotely.

Direct debit
An arrangement where payments are deducted by your energy or water retailer from your bank account or credit card on the due date.

When the supply of electricity, gas or water is cut off completely.

Disconnection notice
A letter or notice advising that the supply of electricity or gas will be cut off on a specified date.

Distribution Network Service Provider (often known as the Distributor)
The entity that supplies the electricity, gas or water across the network, to your property, reads your meter and provides metering data to your retailer.  Electricity distributors are often referred to as operating ‘the poles and wires’.

Dual fuel contract
A market retail contract between a customer and retailer for the sale of both electricity and gas. 

Due date
The date by which money owing on your bill is due.


Embedded network
When the energy or water infrastructure is configured in such a way as to enable the owner of a site to sell energy or water to the occupants. Typically found in apartment blocks, retirement villages, caravan parks or shopping centres. 

Energy Made Easy 
A government run price comparison website for energy contracts.

EnergyAssistance Payment Vouchers (EAPA)
Vouchers to help people experiencing financial difficulty paying their electricity or gas bill. The vouchers are issued by participating community organisations. 

Energy and Water Ombudsman NSW
The Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW (EWON) is the government approved dispute resolution scheme for New South Wales electricity and gas customers, and some water customers.

Energy price fact sheet
Details of the tariffs and fees that apply under your electricity or gas contract. 

Estimated meter read 
A meter reading calculated when your meter has not been accessed or read, which may be based on your previous actual meter reads. There may be a reason provided on your bill for why the read is estimated. 

Exempt network (also known as an Embedded network)
A private energy network which is exempt from requiring registration with the Australian Energy Regulator.

Exempt retailer (also known as Exempt seller)    
A seller of energy that is exempt from the requirement to hold a retailer authorisation with the Australian Energy Regulator. Under the National Energy Retail Law, any party that sells energy must either be authorised as a retailer, or be exempt from requiring authorisation. 

Exempt seller – see Exempt retailer

Explicit informed consent
Agreement by a customer to enter into a contract with an energy retailer.

Exit/early termination fee
A fee charged (as outlined in the terms and conditions of your retail contract) when you leave a retailer prior to your contract expiry date. This fee cannot be applied to account holders who receive the Low Income Household Rebate or Medical Energy Rebate, are on a hardship program, or who paid part of their last bill with an EAPA voucher. It also cannot be applied to contracts with a fixed benefit period, except where the contract has included the installation of physical equipment such as a solar system or battery.

An agreement between you and your retailer to allow you additional time after the due date of your bill to make payment.


Family Energy Rebate
A rebate to help NSW households with dependent children to cover the costs of their energy bills. It is available to applicants who were eligible for and received the Family Tax Benefit from the Department of Human Services in the previous financial year.  See (link to for more information. 

Feed in tariff
The amount you are paid per kilowatt-hour for the solar generation that you feed back into the electricity grid.

Flat tariff
A tariff that remains the same irrespective of how much energy or water you consume.  


Gas Rebate 
A rebate on your gas account. Eligibility is the same as for the ‘Low Income Household Rebate’. This rebate is also available to households using Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG). 

Green energy
A green product offered by your retailer which is energy from renewable sources such as solar, wind and hydro.


Hardship program 
A retailer’s program for customers experiencing difficulty paying their energy bills due to financial hardship. All retailers are required to offer a hardship program. You can contact your retailer to find out if you are eligible. 

Heating value
One of the gas multipliers used to convert units of gas used to megajoules (MJ)

Hot water meter
A meter that records your hot water usage by volume of water. These meters are often used when there is a common hot water system at a property. 


Inclining Block Tariff
When you pay a higher price per kilowatt hour or megajoule for consumption over certain amounts. You will find information about your tariff structure in your retail contract. 

Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART)
IPART sets regulated gas prices, provides guidance on solar feed-in tariffs and monitors the competitiveness of the retail electricity market. IPART also administers the licences and monitors the safety and reliability of transmission and distribution networks in NSW and conducts other reviews into different aspects of electricity supply at the request of the NSW Government. IPART determines Sydney Water and Hunter Water charges.

Interval meter – see Time of use meter

An electronic device used to convert direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC). Customers who install solar panels or battery storage must have an inverter as part of their installation.

Issue date
The date that your retailer generates a bill. 


For Energy and Water Ombudsman NSW, jurisdiction refers to the areas of the energy and water industry in which the Ombudsman has the authority to investigate disputes.


The standard unit of measurement for your water usage.

A kilowatt-hour (kWh) is the unit of measurement used for your electricity consumption. It is calculated as the energy equivalent to consumption of power in kilowatts and time in hours, with a kilowatt being equal to 1,000 watts.


Late payment fee
A fee that may be applied in accordance with your contract terms when full payment of your account is not made by the due date.  This fee should not be applied to accounts which receive the Low Income Household Rebate or Medical Energy Rebate, are on a hardship program or payment plan, or who paid part of their last bill with an EAPA voucher.  

Life support equipment
Medical equipment required by a person residing at a customer’s premises for life support. View a full list of approved equipment.

Life support rebate
A rebate available on electricity bills if you are required, or have someone living with you who is required, to use approved energy-intensive life support equipment at home.  

Local area retailer
The retailer nominated by state legislation for a particular geographic area who has responsibility for providing energy to new connections. 

Low Income Household Rebate
A government rebate which may be applied to your electricity bills. Previously known as the Energy Rebate or Pension Rebate.


Market retail contract
A negotiated contract for which the terms and conditions can be agreed between you and the retailer, but must still comply with the minimum consumer protection requirements specified by the National Energy Retail Rules.

Megajoule (MJ)
The unit of measurement used for your gas consumption. A megajoule equals 1,000,000 (1 million) joules.

Medical energy rebate
A rebate for a customer who has a member of their household that requires additional heating or cooling because they are unable to self-regulate their body temperature. 

Meter accuracy test
A test by an approved technician to determine if a meter is recording consumption correctly. A fee may be charged in many circumstances. 

Meter data logger
A device which transmits information from an internal meter (for example, inside a flat) to a panel outside. This means that the meter reader does not need to enter each premises within a building to take a reading. 

Meter number
The serial number which is on a meter. The meter number will also be stated on your bill. 

Monthly billing
A bill issued every month instead of every quarter, as agreed between you and your retailer. Energy consumption may be estimated as meters are usually only read once every three months by the distributor. 

Move out fee
A fee that may be charged when a customer moves out of a premises. 


National Energy Customer Framework (NECF)
The structure in place for the national regulation of retailing electricity and gas. It includes the National Energy Retail Law, the National Energy Retail Law Regulations and the National Energy Retail Rules.

National Energy Retail Rules (NERR)
Part of the National Energy Customer Framework (NECF). The rules include consumer protections for the sale of energy to small retail customers.

National Energy Retail Law (NERL)
Part of the National Energy Customer Framework (NECF). The act regulates the retail sale of energy to customers and makes provisions for the relationship between the distributors and consumers of energy.

National Meter Identifier (NMI)
The unique numerical identifier which is attached to each electricity supply address. The NMI is listed on your electricity bill. 

New connection
A connection to energy supply established or to be established where there is no existing connection. 


See controlled load supply

Off peak Meter
See controlled load meter

A term originating from Sweden, the Australia New Zealand Ombudsman Association describes an Ombudsman as ‘a free, informal and cost effective alternative to court action. Well known for independent and impartial review and investigation. Commonly describes both the person who holds the position of ombudsman and the office they head up. It is a gender neutral term.’


Paper bill fee
A fee that may be charged by an energy retailer for the issuing of a paper bill, as opposed to an electronic one. You can ask your retailer or EWON whether you are eligible for an exemption from this fee. 

Payment Assistance Program
A program offered by some water providers to assist customers experiencing financial difficulties paying their water bills

Payment Assistance Scheme 
Vouchers to assist in the payment of water bills from some water providers for those experiencing financial hardship. You may be referred to a community agency. 

Pay on time discount
A discount off your energy charges for paying your bill by the due date. This may be available under your market contract with your retailer. The discount may be off your whole bill or off your usage charges only. 

Payment plan
An arrangement between a customer and the retailer whereby regular, more frequent, smaller payments are made towards your bill.

Planned outage
A planned disruption to the supply of electricity, gas or water, usually for repairs or maintenance of the network, advised in advance.

Post office payment fee
A fee that may be charged by energy retailers for making an over the counter payment towards your bill at the post office. You can ask your retailer or EWON whether you might be eligible for an exemption from this fee. 

Pressure factor
The calculation of the change in the volume of gas based on temperature and pressure. This calculation is made by the gas distributor and is used to work out the quantity of megajoules you will be charged on your gas bill for your gas consumption. 


Re-energisation or reconnection 
When energy or water supply is restored to a premises.

Rebate - See concessions

Reconnection fee
A fee that may apply when your property is reconnected to the energy or water supply. 

Refer to a Higher Level (RHL)
A complaint referred to the energy and water provider’s specialist dispute resolution team.

Reminder notice
A letter or email providing notification that the due date for a bill has passed and payment is due immediately.

When your water supply is restricted due to non-payment of bills. As water is an essential service, your supply will not be disconnected completely, but will be restricted to a regulated minimum flow rate.  

The provider that bills you for your energy/water consumption. 

Retailer of last resort 
The energy retailer who must supply a customer if another retailer is no longer available to supply its customers due to being removed from the market by the Australian Energy Regulator. 


Security deposit
An amount of money that may be charged by a retailer as security against non-payment of a bill.

Service interruption – see planned outage or unplanned outage

Smart meter (see digital meter)

Solar Bonus Scheme
A NSW government scheme where eligible customers were paid an amount per kilowatt hour for electricity their solar systems fed into the grid. The scheme ended on 31 December 2016. 

Solar Photovoltaic System (PV system or solar system)  
A system of panels which use the sun to generate electricity.    

Solar generation
Electricity produced by your solar photovoltaic system.

Special meter read (also called a check read)
A reading taken by the distributor outside the regular billing cycle, on the request of a customer or the retailer, to confirm the meter read. 

Standard retail contract or standing offer
A basic contract with regulated model terms and conditions that cannot be changed by the retailer. Standard contracts are ongoing (no fixed term), with pricing set by the retailer. Each retailer must offer a plan that meets the conditions of the Standard Retail Contract, though it is unlikely they will call the plan a standard retail contract. Generally, standard retail contracts cost more than market retail contracts. 

Stormwater charge
A fixed charge that applies to some water customers for the disposal of stormwater. 

Supply address
The address your energy is being supplied to under your contract with your retailer.

Supply charge (also called service availability charge)
A charge for the fixed costs associated with supplying energy to a customer. You are charged this fee regardless of how much energy you use. 


The price you are charged per unit for your energy and water use. This will be set out in your plan. A tariff can include fixed charges, which don’t vary with consumption, and variable charges, which do. 

Time of use meter (also known as an interval meter)
A meter which records your electricity consumption at 15 or 30 minute intervals, 24 hours a day. The meter records both the amount of electricity that is used and the time of day it is used, which can allow retailers to charge different rates depending on when customers use electricity. 

Time of use tariff
A tariff where a customer is charged a different price per kilowatt hour depending on the time electricity is used. The tariff bands are usually peak, shoulder and off-peak, though other bands are possible. 

The process of changing retailers. 


Unplanned outage
An unplanned disruption to the supply of electricity, gas or water, due to unforeseen circumstances such as extreme weather events or accidents. 


Wastewater (sewerage) service charge
A charge from a water retailer for the disposal of waste water. 

Water service charge
A fixed charge paid each quarter for being connected to the water supply.