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WINconnect is one of the Tier 2 energy retailers in Australia catering to multi-tenanted residential, commercial, and industrial buildings. This energy provider supplies electricity through embedded networks, or microgrids, for Aussies living in high-rise apartments.

Such networks use several smart meters to measure the electricity used within a single apartment and common areas separately. WINconnect also offers water heating, internet, and solar installation services.

The company is a licensed electricity retailer in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, and South Australia. Notably, in September 2020, the company claimed to have achieved an “Australian-first” by installing vertical solar panels on a residential building in Melbourne. 

Buying electricity through WINconnect’s embedded network

If you are living in a home that’s part of a communal structure, like an apartment, you may be getting your electricity from an embedded network. This  could be owned and operated by the community developer, or it could be managed by a provider like WINconnect. 

Like other energy providers, embedded network providers have to comply with the Australian Energy Regulator’s (AER’s) guidelines that protect customers from being overcharged or harassed if they’re facing financial hardship. Further, the rate charged by embedded network providers cannot exceed the rate specified in the standing contract offered by a local energy supplier.

Aussies living in an apartment where WINconnect manages an embedded network have the right to choose to sign a contract with another energy provider supplying electricity in the same area. They may find few retailers willing to supply electricity to a home located within an embedded network. 

However, comparing the standing contracts offered by different providers with the WINconnect offer can help you decide if the WINconnect rates are suitable. Existing WINconnect customers choosing to disconnect from their network have to pay the disconnection fee specified in their electricity contract. You may also be charged a disconnection fee if you move out of an apartment connected to the WINconnect network.

What you should know about WINconnect’s electricity rates

As required by regulations applicable to embedded network providers, WINconnect only offers standing contracts. These standing offers are similar to energy providers’ contracts whose terms and conditions are regulated by either the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) or the Victorian Essential Services Commission (ESC). Accordingly, WINconnect’s electricity rates can’t exceed the standing offer cap determined by the AER or the ESC.

Customers buying electricity from WINconnect can choose between a single tariff or a time-of-use tariff, but they should confirm that the tariff is available in their postcode. For instance, in New South Wales and Victoria, both these tariffs are available to residential customers across all electricity distribution networks. However, in Queensland, only those customers living within the Energex distribution network can choose between these tariffs. Further, in South Australia, residential customers can only opt for a single tariff. 

If you choose a single tariff, you’ll be paying the same electricity usage charge no matter what time of the day you use the electricity. A time-of-use tariff allows you to save on electricity costs if you can limit the amount of electricity you use during the peak demand hours. You should remember that each of these tariffs can vary based on the distribution network covering your area. 

Further, you will also have to pay a fixed supply charge, which is the cost of distributing the electricity passed on by WINconnect. You may also have to pay additional charges or fees if you need copies of your electricity bill sent to you by post or if you request a special meter reading.

How can I lower my WINconnect electricity bill?

WINconnect customers connected to an embedded network are typically charged wholesale electricity rates and the company does not offer its customers any discounts. However, customers should check whether changing their tariff plan can bring down their electricity bill. 

Some customers may qualify for concessions and rebates offered by their state or territory government, which they can receive through WINconnect. If you’re eligible for such a concession, you should contact WINconnect and provide them with the necessary documentation to validate your claim. Once the concession is verified, it will be applied to your electricity bill. 

How can WINconnect help me if I’m struggling to pay my bill?

Not being able to pay your bills can be a painful experience. However, WINconnect customers experiencing financial difficulties can request a short-term extension of the date by which their bills are due or switch to a more comfortable payment plan involving smaller instalments. In some cases, the energy provider may also accept on-the-go payments, which can reduce a customer’s energy debt. 

Further, WINconnect’s WINassist program is aimed at ensuring that customers facing financial hardship don’t have to worry about a disconnection. Through this program, customers can negotiate alternative payment options with WINconnect and avoid getting collection notices. They can also check if they are eligible for any government concessions and find out how they can save on electricity costs.

Customers who live in Victoria could also receive tailored assistance from WINconnect as per the state’s Payment Difficulty Framework. This can involve pausing payment of past dues while paying off current bills in regular, more affordable instalments. Customers may need to take part in an energy audit and discuss how to reduce their energy consumption, in addition to checking if they have signed up for the most suitable tariff plan.

Can I take my WINconnect account with me when I move?

Since your WINconnect electricity supply comes through the embedded network in your apartment, you’ll have to close the account when you’re moving out. You can close your account by completing WINconnect’s online form, but you’ll have to pay a moving out fee. 

This fee can vary based on how soon you want the account closed - a standard moving out fee applies to requests that are taken care of the following business day while the priority moving out fee applies to same-day account closures. You should make sure you pay everything you owe WINconnect when moving out to ensure further action isn’t taken. 

Learn more about energy

How to find cheap gas and electricity?

One of the best ways to find cheaper gas and electricity plans is to compare the plans offered by various service providers in your area. You can compare any perks or discounts available from the retailers and the standard costs and fees. You’ll also be able to calculate the estimated monthly, quarterly, and annual costs.

Be careful choosing based solely on these upfront perks or costs, however. These discounts or lower usage perks may end when the contract or benefit period expires on your current plan. When you compare online, you can often find a better plan. 

Your total energy bill includes supply and usage charges, which vary from one provider to another. You can shop around online to find a retailer that offers competitive prices on these charges and any other fees. Discounts can help reduce your bill, and it makes sense to review your bill and think about how to find cheaper gas and electric providers at least once a year.