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Energy Insights

Understanding Business Energy Classifications in Australia

In the realm of business operations, energy consumption plays a pivotal role. It's a key factor that influences the operational costs, sustainability initiatives, and even the reputation of a business. In Australia, businesses are typically classified into two categories based on their energy consumption - small and large. Let's dive into these business energy classifications below.

Small and Large Businesses: An Energy Perspective

The classification of businesses into 'small' or 'large' categories is not arbitrary. It's based on the amount of electricity consumed annually. A small business, in terms of electricity consumption, is generally defined as a business that uses less than 100MWh of electricity per year, except in South Australia, where the threshold is 160MWh per year. Any business that exceeds this threshold is considered a large energy user.

The thresholds for classification as a small or large business can vary from state to state. Here's a simple table that outlines the usage thresholds for electricity in different states:

State/TerritorySmall BusinessLarge Business
New South Wales< 100 MWh/year≥ 100 MWh/year
Victoria< 100 MWh/year≥ 100 MWh/year
Queensland< 100 MWh/year≥ 100 MWh/year
South Australia< 160 MWh/year≥ 160 MWh/year
Western Australia< 100 MWh/year≥ 100 MWh/year
Tasmania< 100 MWh/year≥ 100 MWh/year
Northern Territory< 100 MWh/year≥ 100 MWh/year
Australian Capital Territory< 100 MWh/year≥ 100 MWh/year

Why Does It Matter?

The classification of a business as a small or large energy user has significant implications. It affects the tariffs they are charged, the contracts they can negotiate with energy suppliers, and the rights and protections available to them. For instance, small businesses often have access to more protections under the law and may be eligible for certain tariffs or discounts that are not available to larger businesses.


Understanding the classification of your business in terms of energy usage is a crucial first step in managing your energy costs effectively. Whether you're a small café in Victoria using less than 100 MWh of business electricity per year, or a large manufacturing company in South Australia consuming more than 160 MWh per year, being aware of your classification can help you navigate the energy market, negotiate better contracts, and ultimately, reduce your energy costs.

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