Energy Charter signatories share customer outcomes

Energy Charter Full Signatories have today submitted their annual disclosures to the Independent Accountability Panel (IAP) after consultation with their customer councils, CEOs, Boards and internal leaders. The IAP process is aimed at driving transparency and accountability to energy consumers of their progress towards commitments made under the five customer-centric principles of the Energy Charter

Energy businesses worked closely with their customer councils to ensure that their disclosures were reflective of the outcomes that they had delivered to customers during 2020-21. In addition, feedback was obtained in relation to self-maturity assessments under the Energy Charter’s Maturity Model.

The signatory 2020-21 disclosures share with energy consumers and stakeholders:

  1. An overview of their customers and the communities in which they operate
  2. Customer outcomes they have delivered under the five principles of the Energy Charter:
    1. Customer at the centre
    2. Affordability
    3. Safety, sustainability and reliability
    4. Customer experience
    5. Supporting customers in vulnerable circumstances
  3. Self-assessed maturity levels and metrics and measures to substantiate
  4. Commitments to customers for the next 12 months and beyond

In addition, the Energy Charter 2020-21 disclosure asks “what have we done that has made an actual difference for the customer this year?”. With ongoing momentum, this includes:

  • Customers in vulnerable circumstances impacted by COVID-19 were supported individually and collectively by Energy Charter signatories, informed and guided by an evidence based drawn from the 12-month COVID-19 Customer Vulnerability Research by Deloitte
  • Commercial and industrial customers, including small businesses, benefitted from increased transparency, accountability and fit-for-purpose products and services through the National Customer Code for Energy Brokers, Consultants and Retailers with more than 40 signatories
  • Directors and Boards have better practice options to ensure the customer voice is appropriately influencing their strategic decision-making and the direction of energy businesses through the Customer Voice @ Board Level Resource (responding to IAP Report 2019)
  • Collaboration with the water sector in a first-ever WE (water + energy) Collaborate Memorandum of Understanding to drive tangible customer outcomes and insights sharing between the sectors. The Energy Charter has hosted over 300+ participants learning from 12 speakers on topics ranging from consumer engagement, innovative approaches to customer co-design and indigenous engagement.

Over the coming month, Energy Charter signatories look forward to the opportunity to attend Stakeholder Forums and CEO meetings hosted by the IAP, and reflect on the 2021 IAP Report (December) in order to get valuable feedback on whether they are meeting customer expectations, and where there is room for continuous improvement.

Signatory disclosures will be available for download via the IAP website from Friday 1 October. 

$1.5 million to support vulnerable customers impacted by COVID

Thousands of Australians most impacted by COVID-19 will receive vital help to better manage their energy bills and access support programs. Energy Charter signatories today committed more than $1.5 million over the next 12 months to deliver and augment a range of programs across Australia, including with community organisations, to step up support for customers in vulnerable circumstances.

Energy Charter CEO Council Chair Frank Tudor (MD Jemena) said the funding commitment included additional support programs for vulnerable customers.

“The ongoing impacts of COVID are seeing the most vulnerable members of our community hit hardest,” Mr Tudor said.

“As signatories to the Energy Charter we recognise the need to provide further assistance above and beyond our existing support programs to ensure more disadvantaged Australians can keep the lights on.” 

“Our 12 month COVID-19 Customer Vulnerability research conducted by Deloitte, shows that renters, JobSeekers, young people and those from culturally and linguistically diverse communities (CALD) are feeling the greatest impacts of COVID.

“The research shows that 27 per cent of respondents who need energy bill support aren’t confident to obtain it, with 12 per cent saying they didn’t receive support because they didn’t know how to access it.

“Increased funding will assist individuals, families and small businesses to better access concessions and government rebates and help manage their ongoing energy usage.

“Support will be delivered directly by Energy Charter signatories or in partnership with community groups across Australia to get the help to where it’s needed most in the quickest way. Other programs will support customers and communities with access to other essential support.”

Support measures include:

  • A new Uniting Energy Support Program focused on delivering tailored, one-on-one advice and assistance to energy customers across New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.
  • Care Inc. Energy Support Voucher Program in the Australian Capital Territory.
  • Implementation of dedicated customer relationship officers and provision of pre-payment opt-in products in regional Western Australia.
  • Dedicated hardship support for business owners in Tasmania.
  • Online energy literacy and easy to digest information on how to reduce and understand electricity bills for energy users in Queensland.
  • Essential care packages to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
  • A range of community partnership programs including with Food Bank, Food Share and other local charities.

Mr Tudor said the support measures build on previous programs and initiatives delivered in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, including the Energy Network Relief Package, Covid19 Support Fund in Tasmania, and the Voices for Power energy literacy “Train the Trainer” program in Western Sydney.

“Energy Charter signatories have a long history of supporting vulnerable customers – particularly in partnership with community organisations – and it is fantastic to see these programs continuing to mature throughout the remainder of 2021 and into 2022.”  

Energy Charter signatories providing new levels of support to customers facing vulnerability include: ActewAGL, Aurora Energy, Australian Gas Infrastructure Group (AGIG), APA Group, CS Energy, EnergyAustralia, Energy Queensland including Energex, Ergon Energy Network, Ergon Retail and Yurika, Endeavour Energy, Essential Energy, Horizon Power, Jemena, Powerlink Queensland, Powershop/Meridian Energy and TransGrid. The support will cover electricity and gas customers in New South Wales (including Western Sydney), Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland.

Ongoing support programs are being delivered by Ausgrid and Stanwell.

Uniting Energy Support Program

The Uniting Energy Support Program is focused on delivering tailored, one-on-one advice and assistance to energy customers across New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria by community organisation Uniting. Over $200,000 is being injected into the program by APA Group, CS Energy, EnergyAustralia, Energy Queensland, Endeavour Energy, Essential Energy, Jemena, Powerlink Queensland and Powershop/Meridian Energy.

“The collaboration across Energy Charter businesses to support community organisations like Uniting is a step change for customers facing vulnerability. Not only does it create a sustainable approach for ongoing support programs, it also aligns the energy supply chain in a way that we have not seen before. Uniting is proud to be working with Energy Charter businesses in supporting those in the community who need it the most.” – Matt Cairns, Senior Manager, Uniting Vic. Tas.

COVID-19 Customer Vulnerability research

Four quarterly waves of research into COVID-19 customer vulnerability were conducted by Deloitte from September 2020-2021. The most recent wave (September 2021) found that:

  • Two thirds of respondents have growing concerns about impacts COVID and there are increasing stress and depression levels
  • Employment conditions have worsened: with one third of respondents have experienced a decrease in household income. Discretionary spending has dropped significantly.
  • 27 per cent of respondents who need energy bill support aren’t confident to obtain it. 12 per cent of those respondents said that they didn’t receive support because they didn’t know how to access it.
The Energy Charter

A national CEO-lead collaboration that supports the energy sector towards a customer-centric future. Our core values of “Be invested, make a difference”, “Be open, learn and improve”, and “Think big, be bold” are brought to life through #BetterTogether initiatives focused on delivering better customer outcomes for all Australians.

Full Signatories: ActewAGL, APA Group, Aurora Energy, Ausgrid, Australian Gas Infrastructure Group (AGIG), CS Energy, Endeavour Energy, Energy Queensland Limited including Energex, Ergon Energy Network, Ergon Retail and Yurika, EnergyAustralia, Essential Energy, Horizon Power, Jemena & Ovida, Meridian Energy Australia & Powershop Australia, Powerlink Queensland, Stanwell and TransGrid.  

#BetterTogether Collaborator: Simply Energy.

Energy Charter Supporter: Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).

For media enquiries, please contact:

Sabiene Heindl
Executive Director
The Energy Charter
M: 0412 039 747

#BetterTogether – Launch of Better Practice Landholder & Community Engagement Guide

The Energy Charter, together with National Farmers Federation, has today launched a Better Practice Landholder & Community Engagement Guide under Principle 3 of the Energy Charter.

Landholder and community engagement is an important aspect of providing essential energy services to Australian communities. As we move increasingly towards a new energy future, there are growing opportunities for proactive engagement between energy businesses, landholders and communities regarding energy asset development projects and the maintenance of existing energy assets. For transmission businesses, there is already an increase of asset development in line with the growth in renewable energy.

The Landholder & Community Engagement Better Practice Guide was co-designed by the National Farmers Federation, Queensland Farmers Federation, NSW Farmers Federation, Victorian Farmers Federation, AgForce Queensland, Cotton Australia and Energy Charter signatories APA Group, Powerlink Queensland, TransGrid with support from Essential Energy and Jemena.

It was launched at an event with the National Energy Infrastructure Commissioner, Andrew Dyer and NSW Farmers Federation Policy Director, Kathy Rankin.

“Collaboration through the Energy Charter has enabled the NFF the opportunity to directly engage with the energy industry as whole, work effectively to overcoming challenges and create shared outcomes” – Ash Salardini, Chief Economist National Farmers Federation

The Better Practice Guide sets out what landholders and communities can expect when engaging about new or existing energy assets and aims to:

  1. Share the high-level principles that help guide engagement with landholders and communities
  2. Assist in the management of impacts
  3. Guide any mutual value opportunities which may exist

Its primary purpose is to encourage better engagement and outcomes for landholders and communities and applies to a range of different projects and assets including new or existing electricity transmission lines or substations and new or existing gas pipeline assets i.e. transmission lines and gas pipelines.

Gerard Reilly, General Manager Communications, Customer & Engagement, Powerlink Queensland said the Better Practice Guide will be a vital resource for communities and the energy industry.

“The transformation of the power system will see the need to build new transmission infrastructure, particularly to facilitate new renewable energy connections,” Gerard said.

“Our challenge as an industry is to engage early with communities that are impacted by this infrastructure, better understand their concerns and needs and then work with them to minimise impacts and maximise benefits.

“This is a unique resource as it was developed in a collaborative manner with a range of stakeholders including the National Farmers Federation, Queensland, NSW and Victorian Farmers Federation – and key energy industry representatives.”

Underpinning the Better Practice Guide are high-level principles to guide engagement activities and help to create a benchmark for a consistent approach to build better relationships, respect, trust and confidence.

#BetterTogether – COVID-19 Customer Vulnerability Insights – Wave 4, Q3, 2021

Energy Charter signatories Jemena, ActewAGL, Energy Queensland and Powershop, together with #BetterTogether Collaborator Simply Energy, have collaborated with Deloitte to research the impacts of COVID-19 on our customers and communities. 

Research was conducted to understand the degree of customer vulnerability, as well as customers’ consumption and sentiment towards energy in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, for the final Wave 4 via survey between July 19th to Aug 2nd 2021 which found:

  • 31% of people are optimistic about Australia’s economic direction
  • 52% of people agreed that COVID-19 had increased their stress levels
  • 67% of respondents stated they are highly concerned about the lasting impacts of COVID-19
  • 36% of respondents intend to reduce spending on non-essential items in the next 3 months
Key themes from the COVID-19 Customer Vulnerability Research include:
  • Recovery trajectory has been curbed by the widespread lockdowns that have occupied many of the eastern states of Australia
  • COVID-19 related stress has worsened as the pandemic escalates around the country, particularly amongst older respondents and women
  • Hardship groups that have relied on now non-existent income supplements have incurred the largest degree of financial hardship
  • Reduction in spending is the most common alleviating measure that respondents are utilising. Adversely impacted groups are more likely to reduce household spending

The snapshot placemat and full report are now available on COVID-19 Consumer Research

The Energy Charter September News Update

Message from the Chair of the CEO Council – Frank Tudor MD at Jemena, Wave 4 CEO Insights Panel online live event, Customer Voice –  Thuy Linh Nguyen, Sydney Alliance, 2021 IAP Stakeholder Forum and Consumer Advocacy Support Guide Read More