Better Practice Renewables and Biodiversity: Opportunities for Collaboration Guide

Following a series of environment and energy cross-sector workshops in Queensland hosted by RE-Alliance, the Energy Charter and Powerlink Queensland, we are thrilled to announce the launch of the Better Practice Renewables and Biodiversity: Opportunities for Collaboration Guide on 27 February 2024!

What is the Better Practice Renewables and Biodiversity Collaboration Guide?

With the acceleration of climate change as well as ecosystem decline, there’s a present challenge for making the switch to renewable energy. With a need to build new infrastructure to replace fossil fuels, there also needs to be improvement to and protection of protect our natural environment by reducing the impacts of new development wherever possible.

This Better Practice Renewables and Biodiversity: Opportunities for Collaboration Guide showcases several environmental interventions at every stage of renewable energy project development, from energy system design to end-of-life. It outlines some of what is possible through case studies and identifies opportunities for cross-sector collaboration.

This process emerged from a series of environment and energy cross-sector workshops in Queensland hosted by RE-Alliance, the Energy Charter and Powerlink Queensland.

The Better Practice Renewables and Biodiversity Collaboration Guide Launch

We’re proud to have partnered with RE-Alliance to launch the Better Practice Renewables and Biodiversity: Opportunities for Collaboration Guide alongside Andrew Bray, the National Director at RE-Alliance and Dave Copeman, the Director at Queensland Conservation Council, at the Energy Charter’s National Landholder Engagement Training. An event that brings local landholders, conservation and environmental groups, renewable energy developers and energy businesses together to share insights and tools for better practice.

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Dave Copeman shared at the Better Practice Renewables and Biodiversity Collaboration Guide launch,

“This Guide maps a way for environmental groups and energy businesses to work together. It’s mapping a way to draw people in and say we can’t do this if we’re not in it together … we’ve got to find solutions together.

When we’re trying to work out how to build energy infrastructure, we’ve also got to put on “nature goggles” and say “where should we build this and where shouldn’t we?”

Thank you to all the collaborators!

Download a copy of the Better Practice Collaboration Guide to learn more, or if you’d like to learn more about the #BetterTogether initiative behind this Guide, check out more information here.

Resilience Community of Practice – Natural disasters, the long-term customer experience

Resilience CoP February 2024 - Long-term customer experience

Australia is in the midst of a summer of extreme weather events – cyclones, monsoons, flooding, bushfires. The immediate response to these events is extensive, garnering a combined reaction from the community, industry, and policy makers to find quick and effective solutions to ensure the safety of the community.

How will the experiences and needs of impacted people change in the coming months and years following these natural disasters?

In our first Resilience Community of Practice session of 2024, Helen Ford, Deputy Ombudsman at the Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW (EWON) shared learnings from their recent Spotlight On report ‘Natural disasters – the long-term customer experience‘, which looks at complaints related to NSW bushfires and floods to understand the customer experience in the medium and long term.

The NSW context

Every Local Government Area (LGA) in NSW has been included in a flood or bushfire disaster declaration at least once between July 2018 and October 2023.

Natural disasters in NSW

Immediate and short-term energy issues

The immediate response to these events is extensive, garnering a combined reaction from the community, industry, and policy makers to find quick and effective solutions to ensure the safety of the community.

While extreme weather events have an immediate and catastrophic impact, they are followed by a long tail of complicated impacts on individuals, local and surrounding communities. Reports like the Thriving Communities Partnership Disaster Planning and Recovery Project and the Energy Charter Disaster Response Playbook detail these impacts.

Helen explains, “EWON is not a first or even second responder; we are primarily a long-term responder. Safety and wellbeing are paramount in the initial response and recovery period. Immediately following a disaster, the majority of energy issues are urgent matters like safety hazards, damage, outages, and access to other essential services like telecommunications and transport.”

“We look in admiration on the work you [the energy sector] as first responders do.”

In the image below are some of the immediate and short-term energy issues post a disaster event.

Immediate and short term energy issues

Medium and long-term energy issues

As EWON are long-term responders, Helen explains that “we know trauma comes from having to repeat stories time and time again … events can continue to impact people for years and they may experience more than one event.”

“Empathy wains as time passes, so expectations about what is fair and reasonable become less clear … but months after an event, customers are still experiencing deep vulnerability.” 

In the image below are some of the medium and long-term energy customer complaint themes EWON have assisted to resolve.

Resilience Community of Practice co-host Desiree Sassanfar, Ausgrid, reflected, “It is good to hear the growing recognition of there being no defined end to recovery. When I moved into Emergency Management, I remember hearing about families who were yet to rebuild almost 10 years after the Black Saturday Bushfires in Victoria. 

It is so important to highlight that everyone’s recovery journey is unique. As network providers and retailers, we need to adapt to support our customers for this undefined period, even when we can often be highly operational businesses.”

The way forward…

Energy Charter Signatories have been on the front line of emergency responses and working hard to keep up with more frequent and severe weather events. Many, including those participating in the Energy Charter’s Resilience Community of Practice, are looking for proactive ways to support community resilience and deliver a better customer experience through disaster recovery.

Helen’s industry call to actions include:

  1. Proactively develop long-term support plans

    This planning needs to be informed by an understanding that:
    • impacts continue for years after the event
    • people may experience multiple events
    • the nature and level of impact changes over time.
  1. Identify and address factors contributing to customer stress, dissatisfaction, and lack of confidence in the energy sector culminating in complaint fatigue


    Helen says, “Energy providers need to use insights from internal and external complaints to identify ways to foster better understanding of the impact of extreme weather events and avoid complaint fatigue in customers.”

    Customers go to EWON when they are experiencing ongoing and long-term billing, supply and affordability issues, often months or even years after their homes or businesses were destroyed or deemed uninhabitable.

    Helen says, “While providers often get it right, complaints are an invaluable source of insights about where things can improve.”

    “Our commitment is that EWON will continue this conversation within the energy sector, and beyond, to share the insights from our complaints and gain insights from others.

Session resources 

Helen Ford
Deputy Ombudsman
Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW

About the speaker

In 2018/19 Helen Ford was appointed Deputy Ombudsman at the Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW, to provide strategic support to the Ombudsman and undertake high level stakeholder engagement.

Before joining EWON, Helen worked for over a decade at the NSW Ombudsman’s office dealing with complaints about NSW government agencies and investigating systemic issues. She gained practical policy development experience working in the NSW Maritime Division of Roads and Maritime Services to improve operational procedures for Boating Safety Officers.

About this Community

This event is part of the Energy Charter’s Resilience Community of Practice dedicated to helping customers and communities better prepare, respond and recover from disaster events.

Every second month, the Energy Charter host a Community of Practice, including expert-led discussions building on the topics covered in the Energy Charter’s Disaster Response Playbook.

Every second month, the Energy Charter host a Community of Practice, including expert-led discussions building on the topics covered in the Energy Charter’s Disaster Response Playbook. Learn more about the Resilience Community of Practice.