Independent Accountability Panel process: hitting the mark by 30 Sept ’21

As the Energy Charter Independent Accountability Panel (IAP) process draws closer, with annual disclosure reports due on 30 September 2021, Energy Charter signatories are knee-deep preparing drafts, engaging with customer groups and commencing their respective CEO and Board approval processes.

This year marks the third round of the IAP process, and as such, many signatories have existing mechanisms in place to capture customer outcomes aligned to the Energy Charter principles across their businesses.

Some businesses have working groups chaired with Board members who meet monthly to discuss their progress and ambitions for customers. Others have more organic processes, allowing employees to share the outcomes that they have achieved for their customers and communities within the business.

All of the customer-centric information is being collated, refined and summarised for the purposes of the business’ 2020-21 disclosures which will be submitted to the IAP by 30 September. There’s a focus on the top 3-5 outcomes that have been delivered for customers.

The maturity self-assessment tool, co-created March 2020, enables signatories to assess their maturity against the Energy Charter Principles by reference to articulated criteria, as well as indicating where on the maturity scale they intend to progress to, over what period and how they plan to achieve this progress. 

Most signatories start their maturity self-assessment by leveraging their senior executives internally to have authentic discussions about what levels of maturity their business.

As Rebecca Kardos, CEO Aurora Energy said last year to the IAP  “It was actually probably one of the best conversations we’ve had as an executive group because we got to compare, contrast and reflect ….that’s really powerful and assists us in either challenging ourselves or encouraging us to do more for customers.”

Anecdotal feedback from a number of senior executives has been that these discussions are incredibly unique in the business planning cycle.

Signatories use a variety of methods to then “reality test” their maturity self-assessment. For those with customer councils, this is the natural landing place for a discussion on whether the business has assessed their maturity in a way that aligns with their customers’ expectations. For those higher up in the supply chain, including gas pipelines and generators, the discussion may take place one-on-one with individual direct connected customers or stakeholder more broadly.

The final step in the process is CEO and Board approval. While depending on ownership structures, this can vary in terms of timing and processes, Energy Charter signatories commit to having sign off of their disclosure at the most senior levels of their business to ensure there is accountability and transparency.

So while the disclosures themselves are only 10 pages, they present a unique opportunity for each Energy Charter signatory to generate meaningful conversations within their business on customer centricity and culture and be held accountable to outcomes. Where have they done well for customers? Where could they do better? What ambition do they have for the coming 12 months and beyond?

Stay tuned for the Energy Charter signatory disclosures which will feature on the IAP website in early October 2021!

#BetterTogether – sharing better practice to amplify the voice of customers at board level

The voices of customers are set to be further amplified at a board level following the release of a better practice resource for company directors. Developed as part of the Energy Charter #BetterTogether initiative Customer Voice @ Board, in collaboration with the Australian Institute for Company Directors (AICD) the resource provides better practice examples and a checklist to prompt discussion by board members.

This resource was developedby Boards Chairs and Directors from Powerlink Queensland, CleanCo, Horizon Power and Stanwell in response to insights from The Energy Charter Independent Accountability Panel (IAP) about the benefits from the customer voice influencing the strategic direction of energy businesses.

“This is an important resource.  We know there is no one ‘best way’ to amplify the customer voice, so it needs to be flexible to allow boards to take a fit-for-purpose approach.” Gerard Reilly, General Manager Communications Powerlink Queensland

“Many of the Energy Charter signatories are already driving better practice in this areas, so it is a great opportunity for businesses to learn from each other and encourage continuous improvement across the sector,” Gerard said.

The resource includes practical insights that support the energy sector to embrace the customer voice at a board level, including:

  1. Board composition and training – consider including directors with customer experience who have insights into customer touchpoints, issues, and value propositions
  2. Board meetings – ensure structure and facilitation of board meetings enable appropriate discussions about customer expectations, risks and opportunities
  3. Decision-making – consider the needs of customer within the decision-making process
  4. Customer engagement – gain customer insights by ensuring appropriate engagement with customers and their representatives
  5. Risk and assurance – consider the role of the customer voice through a risk lens to ensure that appropriate governance, metrics and measures are in place
  6. Customer advocacy structures – advocate for customer perspectives within senior leadership levels to influence strategic decision-making

A number of Energy Charter signatories have already road tested the Customer Voice @ Board Resource with their Boards. This has encouraged an authentic discussion on opportunities to get the customer voice greater magnification at a Board level, together with practical commitments.

#BetterTogether initiatives leverage high impact areas for meaningful change using the architecture of the Energy Charter to deliver better outcomes for customers. Learn more 

The Energy Charter July News Update

Message from the Chair of the CEO Council – Frank Tudor MD at Jemena, Customer Voice @ Board Resource Released, Customer Voice –  Heather Saunders at Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand, #BetterTothether WE (Water + Energy) Collaborate MOU and COVID-19 Customer Research CEO Insights Panel Wave 3, Quarter 2. Read More 

#BetterTogether – WE (Water + Energy) Collaborate

WE (water and energy) play a vital role in everyone’s lives, and we share the same customers and communities. It is critical that we collectively meet their needs now and into the future. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced that there are many areas of “better practice” that WE can share and operationalise across both sectors by working #bettertogether. During the last 18 months the sectors have worked closely together on issues such as getting concessions to the right people, support for vulnerable customers and innovation opportunities.

In May 2021, The Energy Charter and Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA) entered a landmark WE Collaborate MoU through their respect CEO Council and Board. The MoU aims to deliver better outcomes to our customers through collaboration and organisational efficiencies and increasing trust. It is a high-level commitment to:

So, what does this really mean?

Eve Rodrigues, Manager of Customer and Community at WSAA explains “While our relationship with the energy sector may have grown from our common purpose of supporting customers during the COVID19 pandemic, it has opened up so many potential opportunities in customer engagement and circular economy (to name just a few). The water sector has realised huge benefits from collaborating with each other – the next obvious step for us is working with the energy sector to deliver better outcomes to our customers and communities”.

“Collaboration across and between sectors is vital to address many of the burning platform issues for our customers and communities, particularly the most vulnerable. This landmark MoU solidifies the commitment of two essential service sectors to work #bettertogether. The trust being built across the sectors has already led to deep insights sharing and exploration of customer innovations” said Sabiene Heindl, Executive Director of the Energy Charter.

Stay tuned for updates on this unique collaboration between WSAA and the Energy Charter.