Multiple charges, one bill. What do the items on an electricity invoice mean?

Co-generation, power, network, transitional and quality charges, plus subscription and excise duty. These are just some of the items on a sample electricity bill. It is worth knowing what specifically we are paying for. How to find out? Which charges depend on the volume of electricity consumption and which are fixed, and what is a tariff group? We explain.

An electricity bill today is usually several pages long. Tables, calculations, some extremely precise, with several decimal places. Very different figures, each of which affects the amount to be paid. This in turn depends on the settlement of the previous consumption forecast, so it is usually with this item that the list of items on the bill begins.

In simplest terms, the value of actual electricity consumption is actually the sum of two elements: the cost of selling the energy actually consumed, i.e. the energy that the consumer has actually used by using, for example, household appliances at home, and the distribution costs, i.e. the cost of delivering electricity to the consumer. Depending on where you live, distribution costs can vary. However, it is assumed that the cost of sale and the cost of distribution account for roughly half of the bill each.

Tariffs are essential

How much a consumer pays also largely depends on the tariff they choose. G11 is the standard tariff for households. Regardless of the day of the week and the time, the consumer pays exactly the same amount for each kilowatt hour (kWh) consumed, at a fixed rate.

G12 is an hourly tariff. Electricity on this tariff costs significantly less at night (even by several tens of per cent), but much more during the day. The G12w tariff, on the other hand, is a so-called weekend tariff, where energy is cheapest at night and at weekends, but more expensive - even compared to the G11 tariff - on weekdays.

Account positions

However, the energy consumed and the cost of delivering it to the point of consumption is not everything. Every subscriber, when paying their bills, contributes to the maintenance of the energy network, its expansion and possible repairs. We also pay for power reserves, i.e. sources that can provide back-up energy in the event of a sudden increase in demand. We also contribute to the energy transition. This is what the mysterious-sounding elements such as the 'CHP charge' and the 'RES charge' visible on the bill refer to.

The most important item, however, is 'active energy'. This is the charge for the purchase of energy consumed during the period to which the bill relates. Here you can see how many kilowatt hours you have used, how much one kilowatt hour costs and what tax is charged. Photovoltaic system owners can also see on their bill how much energy they have put into the system.

Most of the amounts present on an electricity invoice are so-called variable charges. This means that their final value depends on energy consumption - the less electricity a consumer uses, the lower these amounts will be and the lower the bill will be. In the context of our bills, the electricity price freeze will be extremely important. According to the current draft, electricity prices in 2024 will be frozen for the first half of the year. This was the decision taken by the Sejm on Thursday (7.12.2023). What's more, MEPs have tabled an amendment so that support will also extend to farmers and small and medium-sized entrepreneurs - says Maciej Maciejowski of the Polish Electricity Committee.

More details on how to manage electricity wisely can be found on the campaign website of the Polish Committee for Electricity 'Energy counts'.