My experience with AGL’s $1/day EV charging plan…

All you can eat electrons for $1/day for your electric car at home? It sounds too good to be true, and in my case it turned out that way too.

In this post, I’ll cover off how and why I wanted to switch my power to AGL to take advantage of their charging plan, and ultimately why I couldn’t make the move.

AGL $1/day electric car plan basics

Here’s the headline info to get you started:

  • Ongoing Costs: $1/day
  • Installation Costs: Simple installations should be free
  • Basic requirements: Your household electricity supplied by AGL plus a dedicated circuit for your EV charger if not already installed

The full page about the plan on the AGL website seems to be offline for now, so for more, refer to AGL’s FAQ page here..

Why I wanted to switch to AGL’s $1/day EV plan

The key decision factor about whether AGL’s plan will save you money is how much you need to charge your EV at home. This plan won’t work for you if you drive a lot of km but charge on the road, or just don’t drive enough (and thus charge enough at home) to make use of it.

$1/day at around 19c / kWh on an off peak rate yields around 5kwh of electricity consumed as being the break even point. If you need more than 5kwh per day on average then you’ll come out ahead on AGL’s EV plan.

I have two electric cars – a Tesla Model X and a BMW i3. Both are charged in our garage, and I can keep an eye on how much power I’m using for our driving through our existing supplier’s app, showing our usage through on our smart meter (Powershop).

That breakeven point of around 5kwh of electricity equates to around 20-23kms of driving in the Tesla, or 32 or so kms in the BMW i3. We drive more than this, on average – and the driving maths is backed up by seeing how much electricity we actually use from our smart meter too.

Powershop App.jpg
An example week of charging our Electric Cars shown in the Powershop app

Looking at our actual consumption, I’d estimate that we spend around $4-$5 daily in off peak electricity to charge both cars combined, give or take.

The savings of moving to the AGL $1/day plan are therefore fairly evident. Let’s take a $3 difference – this would yield savings of around $90 / month or $1,080 per year.

The known gotchas about AGL’s $1/day EV plan

There are there some considerations about AGL’s plan for potential customers.

You’ll be getting all of your power from AGL, not just the electricity for your electric car.

Why does this matter? AGL’s customer service isn’t renowned, and while AGL are in the process of divesting themselves from coal – and yes, you can choose to purchase 100% Greenpower – they are still one of the biggest coal power plant operators in Australia. Personally, I wasn’t overly comfortable about giving them my hard-earned cash.

You’ll need a dedicated electric car charger installed, plus a sub-meter that allows AGL to monitor your consumption.

This isn’t that much of a drawback, but there’s definitely some administrative hassle in getting this done. I’ll talk more about the process later, but it involves site visits, quotes (hopefully with a $0 price tag attached) and then the installation.

If you charge from a regular wall-socket then I think you’re out of luck as AGL will only install their sub-meter on a dedicated circuit for your EV charger.

Prepare yourself for your bills to need some attention by AGL customer service, plus you won’t be able to monitor your consumption online / in their app.

Surveying the few EV-specific Facebook groups and forums out there, it would seem that AGL stuffing up your bill and charging you fully for your EV power is a common occurrence.

In addition, AGL’s website and app don’t seem to be setup to display data correctly for customers on the EV charging plan, so you’ll have to keep an eye on your paper/PDF bills to see your usage.

One additional comment – we don’t have solar, so I didn’t look into how having our own solar supply or feed-in tariff would interact with the EV charging plan. That may impact your decision too.

I didn’t know all of these factors when I made the switch, but none of them were large enough to put me off anyway. The $1,000 / year estimated saving would have been a great win… except, I am back with Powershop after 3 months of trying to get AGL’s plan installed.

This is what happened.

How my $1/day plan switch actually went…

The expected process would be as follows:

  1. You request to switch power to AGL and request the $1/day EV plan
  2. AGL Electric Car team arranges site visit for sub-meter installation quote
  3. Site inspection complete, quote generated
  4. Your power supply by now needs to have switched to AGL to proceed
  5. Sub-meter installation arranged and completed
  6. $1/day plan active, wait for first bill to resolve any billing issues

However, and cutting to the chase, AGL seem to have stopped rolling out sub-meter installations for new customers in NSW. This could be temporary, or permanent – no-one at AGL seems to know if and when this will be resolved.

To get to that point though, these are the steps I went through.

Early June: I switched my power to AGL during a phone call. The regular call centre don’t know much about the EV plan, but directed me to talk to their small team of specialists (it’s worth mentioning the few people I emailed and spoke to there were all very pleasant to deal with).

After the initial switch request was done, I then spoke to the electric car team. They can also be contacted at [email protected], in case that’s useful for anyone going down this path.

As we are in a rental property, I needed to provide a written approval for the sub-meter installation to AGL. As I’d received this already for my EV charger, this was relatively simple.

Early July: We received our site inspection to generate our sub-meter installation quote. The quote came back around two weeks later confirming that the work was simple and would be at no cost to us.

At this point, I was still not an AGL customer, with some really poor timing going on with the switch of our supply from Powershop to AGL. After a bit of finger pointing, AGL agreed to raise a special transfer request to move our supply. This added around a month to the overall process.

Late August: Our power is finally with AGL so the Electric Car team could move forward with arranging the sub-meter installation. However, it was here that it all went a bit quiet.

Mid September: Another two weeks later and it was confirmed that they would not be proceeding with the sub-meter installation request – but it was not made clear as to why. I received some mixed messages about compatibility of our smart-meter and the selection of a new sub-meter installer, but all up, I was told clearly that they would not be able to proceed and could not provide me with a timeline for resolution.

At this point, I then switched back to Powershop, after three months of trying.

Summing up – AGL’s $1/day plan sounds great… but wasn’t meant to be

As you can tell, attempting all of this was not a consumer friendly process – at all.

While the promise of the $1/day plan sounds good, in reality it seems to be hard to handle the billing for customers who got it or can get it, plus it needs some persistence to get installed in the first place. And, that’s all outside the issues now in NSW with the sub-meter installations.

That said, it’s still worth trying if you think that the economics of the plan will work for you. If this is the case, then go for it.

For me, it really highlights the need for EV owners to pay some attention to how much electricity they are using before jumping into this plan specifically as if there is only a small benefit, it won’t be worth the hassle. Running those calculations before you move should definitely be done.

Plus generally, knowing how much electricity your consuming when running your car is of course an important part of the economics of EV ownership.

Keith enjoys nerding out about Electric Vehicles, owning a BMW i3, Tesla Model X and now, running Drive Zero .