2021 Annual Report, Customer Code Council Update, Code Champion Anthony Cooper, Executive Manager Energy Program at Business Australia, What’s On in 2022 and Call for Customer Code Council nominations by end of Jan 2022 Read More
Affordable energy and transition to a decarbonised energy system, in ways that put customers at the centre and leaves no-one behind, have been identified by the Energy Charter as critical ongoing commitments in 2022, following a new report released today.
Energy Charter Full Signatories, made up of 25 energy organisations, including retailers, generators, distribution and transmission businesses, have pledged to work closer together over the next 12 months to focus on these key issues for the benefit of Australian customers and communities.
Following its annual review of Energy Charter signatory disclosures, the Independent Accountability Panel (IAP) released its third annual report today stating:
“The true test of whether Signatories are putting their customers at the centre of their business and the energy system is whether they work together, and with governments and market bodies, to address the clear challenges with ambition and urgency.”
Chair of the Energy Charter CEO Council, Frank Tudor, said 2021 continued to be an extremely challenging year for many energy consumers with the impacts of COVID-19 still being felt across the nation. The unique structure of the Energy Charter allowed organisations from across all areas of the supply chain to collaborate through #BetterTogether initiatives to support customers. This was recognised by the IAP as a critical innovative platform to support customers.
Key achievements through the Energy Charter over the past 12 months have included:
- The $1.5 million commitment of additional support for customers in vulnerable circumstances was guided by evidence drawn from the 12-month COVID-19 Customer Vulnerability Research by Deloitte
- Collaboration with the agricultural sector to co-design the Better Practice Landholder and Community Engagement Guide to assist in on the ground discussions on transmission assets needed for the accelerating transition towards net zero
- 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 over 40 signatories
- Directors and Boards ensuring that the customer voice was appropriately influencing their strategic decision-making and the direction of energy businesses through options highlighted in the Customer Voice @ Board Level Resource
“The Energy Charter provides an open platform for the energy sector to collaborate on key issues for customers, and there is always more we can do,” Mr Tudor said.
“The Independent Accountability Panel’s message is clear. We need to come together with urgency to better plan the path to meeting customer and community expectations on net zero by 2050. We need ambition to do more to support households and businesses in vulnerable circumstances.
“We thank the Independent Accountability Panel for their report and recommendations. The Energy Charter signatories will continue to collaborate across industry and with customer advocates to deliver on these recommendations over the next 12 months to benefit customers.
“We are also proud to have welcomed four new signatories into the Energy Charter this year and look forward to building on that momentum to see more energy businesses joining in the years ahead, particularly retailers.”
During its review, the Independent Accountability Panel analysed the disclosure reports submitted by Energy Charter signatories, interviewed CEOs and held stakeholder and public forums. Led by Clare Petre as Chair, the IAP includes Cassandra Goldie, CEO Australian Council of Social Service and Andrew Richards, CEO Energy Users Association of Australia.
For more about the Energy Charter and the IAP report, visit theenergycharter.com.au
For me as a champion of change, it’s all about giving the ‘human’ element the same priority as the process element. In this short blog, I share with you some of the strategies and approaches that I have used to help deliver transformational change projects across large organisations.
Over the last 6 months, the Energy Charter teamed up with Good Shepherd’s Financial Inclusion Action Plan on a four-part series called Champions of Change. The series explored strategies to arm Changer Makers with the tools and insights to make change in and outside of organisations.
Robyn Bailey, previously the Executive General Manager, Transformation and Portfolio Management, nbn co., talked about how leadership and alignment were critical elements of enabling transformational change and the strategies that can be successfully used to drive such change.
My approach to change involves three simple, but key insights:
- Assume no bad intent – As human beings it is a requirement for us to constantly make assumptions because we rarely, if ever, have all the information at hand. It can be easy to assume that others might not support what we are working on, particularly when we are all working under time & budget constraints towards complex and ambitious goals. However, it is critically important to remember that we never really know exactly what others are thinking or what is going on in their world. More often than not over the years I have found that other people actually want the same or a similar outcome after I have taken the time to clarify my intent and demonstrated that I am open to hearing their considerations.
- Genuine collaboration – Do not underestimate the value of truly listening to others and making changes to incorporate feedback into the way that an outcome is being delivered. It can be easy to ignore the risks, concerns and suggestions that others raise in order to save time up front however ultimately it will end up costing more time at the end. Genuine collaboration is hard work but if it is done well, it saves time and reduces unnecessary frustration.
- Social capital – Business leader Margaret Heffernan in her “Forget the Pecking Order at Work” TED Talk challenges the roles of the workplace pecking order and suggests that a community focussed model will help achieve the highest levels of success in business and the world. How do you make sure outside your transactional work, that you are creating connections with other people in your workplace? I still recall the first time I saw Margaret’s video. It joined so many dots for me and I have been a strong advocate for social capital ever since.
From my experience you need to dedicate time towards getting to know other people beyond their roles in the workplace. It is a worthwhile investment which helps to build trust and empathy. Ultimately it enables change to occur more effectively because it is easier to drive and align behind the change agenda if you already have the human connections. After all, organisations don’t change, people do.
In my recent role we had a monthly meeting between senior leaders without any agenda except understanding others’ perspectives and what was going on for them. Open questions to get to know others are great at driving social capital and modelling this approach to others.
Ultimately, change involves people. Always remember: the human element is critical in any positive change process. Investing time in people and building connections is critical.
Robyn Bailey, previously Executive General Manager, Transformation and Portfolio Management, nbn co.
Message from the Chair of the CEO Council – Frank Tudor MD at Jemena, Transition & Affordability, Customer Voice Cath Smith – Independent Chair of EUCG, #BetterTogether initiatives, Champions for Change – The Series, welcome to new Energy Charter Full Signatory TasNetworks Read More
Energy affordability remains a key issue for consumers and communities across Australia.
“We continue to look at how we can support our customers into the future. We have purposely been changing our systems, our processes and our ways of working – feeding into the Aurora way – which is around our values and our purpose, and how can we be better for our customers?…. We’ve learned that there’s always more you can do. The job is never done. It’s a journey, not a destination. – Rebecca Kardos, CEO Aurora Energy
Over the last month, the Energy Charter’s Independent Accountability Panel (IAP) has reviewed full signatory disclosure reports, interviewed CEOs and held a series of national Stakeholder Forums across Australia. In doing so, two issues for the energy sector have been highlighted:
- Energy affordability, especially for those most vulnerable in our communities
- The energy transition and the importance of not leaving anybody behind.
In our last short blog, we looked at the energy transition. In this short blog we will look at the issue of energy affordability.
In interviews with CEOs, Cassandra Goldie, consumer panellist and CEO of the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) highlighted that over the last 12 months COVID had continued to impact the community. She reinforced concerns about the increasing cohort of people who simply cannot afford their energy. This presented a key area for potential collaboration for support from signatories, and also called for sustainable solutions from regulators and government.
In response, Energy Charter CEOs raised examples of better practice embedded their businesses to deliver energy more affordably, including:
- Increased solar connections in regional areas of Western Australia and more automated processing of concession entitlements (Stephanie Unwin, CEO Horizon Power)
- Longstanding relationships with community organisations such as Uniting to deliver support to the most vulnerable customers (Frank Tudor, MD Jemena) which culminated in the commitment of $1.5 million across Energy Charter signatories for supporting customers in vulnerable circumstances over the next 12 months
- Extension of Energy Support Programs to Tasmanian residential and business customers through COVID (Rebecca Kardos, Aurora Energy)
- Proactively using energy data and analytics to better understand energy usage profiles and target customers in hardship (John Knox, ActewAGL)
- Targeted campaigns to encourage customers to claim their energy concessions and rebates (Rod Duke, CEO Energy Queensland)
- The development of a Vulnerable Customer Assistance Program (Ben Wilson, CEO AGIG)
- The innovative #BetterTogether “train the trainer” program with Voices for Power, Sydney Alliance that offers energy literacy training in Western Sydney for culturally and linguistically diverse communities (Richard Gross, CEO Ausgrid, Frank Tudor, MD Jemena, Guy Chalkley, CEO Endeavour).
Energy affordability is likely to remain an ongoing key concern for consumers, as highlighted in our COVID-19 Customer Vulnerability research by Deloitte. Therefore, the focus of many of the Energy Charter #BetterTogether initiatives will continue to be upon how to better support those customers facing hardship in our communities.
Energy Charter CEOs also recognise the growing intersection between the two themes identified by the Independent Accountability Panel: namely affordability and transition. As Guy Chalkley, CEO Endeavour Energy stated:
“I don’t think Net Zero is about leaving people behind, I think Net Zero is our opportunity to at last, get people to catch up.”
To watch the IAP interviews with Energy Charter signatories, please visit the IAP website.
“Previously it was all about Affordability, with a big A, now its Affordability with a big A and Resilience with a big R, and we’re trying to balance the two in a better way.’ – Guy Chalkley, CEO Endeavour Energy
Over the last month, the Independent Accountability Panel (IAP) has reviewed signatory disclosure reports, interviewed CEOs and held a series of national Stakeholder Forums. In doing so, two key issues for the energy sector have been highlighted:
- The energy transition and the importance of not leaving anybody behind
- Energy affordability, especially for those most vulnerable in our communities
In this short blog, we look at the challenge of the energy transition and reflect on some of the responses of the CEOs in their interviews with the IAP.
In both the IAP’s Stakeholder Forums and interviews with the CEOs, Andrew Richards, panellist and CEO of the Energy Users Association of Australia, reinforced that energy transition had implications for all customers and that it was critical we ensure that no customer was left behind.
In addition, during his interview with Andrew Bills, CEO of CS Energy, Andrew Richards suggested that the Callide Futures Group could be a blueprint for managing the transition, or more aptly described, the transformation.
Andrew Bills explained how CS Energy was working with its people and unions through the Callide Futures Group to assess how to best position the Callide B workforce to take up new opportunities as the energy sector transforms over the coming decades. This included a demographic study of the workforce to help identify pathways based on choice and inclusivity.
“Our customers happen to own us. We have five million Queenslanders and they are our owners. If you ask our shareholders would they prefer a slightly enhanced dividend or slightly lower electricity price, I think we all know they are going to prefer money in their pocket rather money in pockets of a central Treasury.” – Paul Simshauser, CEO Powerlink Queensland
Paul Simshauser, CEO of Powerlink Queensland and Brian Salter, Acting CEO of Transgrid reflected on the importance of the community-led transition to transmission businesses. It’s not just what these businesses do, but how it is done: including engaging early with customers to test ideas, grounding those ideas in consumer research and ensuring that the transition aligns with goals of affordability.
Community engagement was identified as critical to the building of infrastructure for the transition, with the Energy Charter #BetterTogether Better Practice Landholder and Community Engagement Guide helping to ensure more consistency across jurisdictions for customers. A social impact lens also helped with authentic and early engagement and in driving mutual or shared value outcomes. It was about creating long-lasting benefits to customers and communities.
Part of this is culture change – transitioning from an engineering and asset-based business to a customer centric organisation. Transmission businesses haven’t always directly engaged with mums and dads and small businesses, so the approach was shifting to bring the customer into the discussions and decision making. This included performance indicators for senior executives on customer-centricity, understanding the hierarchy of what’s most important for customers and identifying pain points for customers. The Energy Charter was identified as a key internal change agent.
“We’re very committed to the Energy Charter and the principles that underpin it. We’ve formally adopted this year ‘customer centricity’ as a goal of the organisation.” – Brian Salter, Acting CEO, Transgrid
Andrew Richards reinforced the importance of the emerging issue of social licence regarding the transition. Australia’s energy sector is undergoing rapid change. Pressure is building to deliver reliable, affordable, safe and sustainable energy for consumers, while making the necessary investments to support transformation from fossil-fuelled centralized generation to renewable and distributed energy.
Within this transition, Energy Charter signatories acknowledge that there is a unique opportunity to align with social licence and consumer expectations. This is an ambitious cultural change piece and requires transparency, accountability and #BetterTogether collaboration.
To watch the IAP interviews with Energy Charter signatories visit the IAP website.
Message from the Chair of the CEO Council – Frank Tudor MD at Jemena, Independent Accountability Panel (IAP) Stakeholder Forum Insights, Customer Voice Sabiene Heindl, IAP CEO Interviews, IAP key dates #BetterTogether Collaborating to support energy literacy for culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) customers Read More
A big thank you to those who engaged in the 2021 Independent Accountability Panel (IAP) Stakeholder Forums which were held across the country from 7 to 12 October as part of the public consultation process. Held online for customers, representatives and stakeholders in Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, the Forums offered a great opportunity for feedback on the performance of energy businesses and rich insights for Energy Charter signatories.
In welcoming participants to the Forums, Chair of the IAP Clare Petre (former Energy and Water Ombudsman of NSW), noted that it was unfortunate that we were still talking about the impact of COVID and natural disasters on energy customers, and noted that the themes of 2021 were likely to be similar to last year: affordability and energy transition.
Dr Cassandra Goldie, panellist and CEO of the Australian Council of Social Service invited comments on affordability, with a particular focus on those who are in vulnerable circumstances and where more needs to be done. Andrew Richards, panellist and CEO of the Energy Users Association of Australia reinforced that transition and the target of net zero by 2050 had implications for all customers and that it was critical we ensure that no customer is left behind.
More than 50 stakeholders attended the IAP Forums and provided rich feedback and diverse insights. Key issues raised included:
- Ensuring that nobody is left behind in the energy transition.
- Who bears the cost of transition, particularly when assets are across jurisdictions?
- Importance of genuine and authentic engagement with landholders and communities and equitable compensation to build social licence.
- The interplay between vulnerable communities also being impacted the hardest by climate change.
- The need for energy efficiency measures and other supports for customers in vulnerable circumstances, as the impacts of COVID continue to be felt.
- Leveraging COVID supports for customers as business-as-usual.
The importance of the Energy Charter commitments was reinforced, with stakeholders’ noting improvements in engagement with customers and stakeholders, through feedback loops, communications and action, including for culturally and linguistically diverse communities. Energy Charter signatories were encouraged to continue to focus on impact and outcomes for customers.
The next step in the IAP process is stakeholder submissions, which are due by 6 November.
As part of the #BetterTogether Energy Literacy for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities initiative, Energy Charter signatories Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy and Jemena, together with AGL Australia and Origin Energy have collaborated with Sydney Alliance to co-design and launch the Voices for Power Energy ‘Train-the-Trainer’ Project.
The Voices for Power Energy ‘Train-the-Trainer’ Project is a first-of-its-kind energy literacy program for CALD communities across Greater Sydney. Delivered in language, in culture and in community, the Train-the-Trainer project is equipping leaders from several cultural and religious communities to become ‘Community Energy Trainers’ through co-delivering a series of informative energy education workshops.
Empowered by these learnings, leaders can then support others within their community to take control of their energy concerns, adopt simple energy safety practices and negotiate a better deal on their energy bills with a specific focus on supporting those in more vulnerable circumstances.
“The relational engagement approach Sydney Alliance champion, which builds in dedicated time to get to know each other, listen, question, and share stories is so important. It means this project and its learnings has been designed with respect and consideration for every person involved and those of the people or businesses that they represent. That is something that will help it stand the test of time.” Emily Duck, Corporate Social Responsibility Specialist at Jemena
“Through deep listening, the Voices for Power project has listened to hundreds of stories from communities about their struggles with the energy system. Voices for Power’s vision is that CALD communities become empowered, informed, and confident actors in the energy system. As a result, CALD communities’ interests and concerns are more readily understood and taken into consideration by other actors in the energy system, including energy businesses, energy regulators and government, when creating energy policy.” Thuy Linh Nguyen, Community Organiser at the Sydney Alliance
Following the completion of the project’s ‘co-design’ stage, which involved numerous energy and community partner workshops and the development of a suite of community training materials, the Voices for Power ‘Train-the-Trainer’ Program is now in its ‘pilot delivery’ stage.
Pilot delivery commenced in late July, with online training sessions held over two days, involving 11 community leaders from Vietnamese, Spanish, Hindi, Nepali, Urdu, Tongan, Arabic and Chinese speaking backgrounds. Training sessions incorporated interactive formats such as verbal and visual presentations, small group discussions, quizzes, story sharing, practical exercises (like bill labelling) and role-plays (including with retailer contact centre staff).
Each training session sought to test the training approach and content, in addition to generating learning outcomes through pre-workshop and post-workshop surveys, observations from the training room and small group debriefing discussions. Community leaders also gave feedback on any improvements to make training more engaging and relevant for their communities. Training topics included:
- Introduction to the energy system
- Saving Energy – Reading Your Bill and Getting the Best Deal
- Saving Energy – Energy Saving Tips and Payment Support
- Energy Safety
Some of the pilot outcomes included:
- All participants reported increased confidence taking actions related to their energy bills and energy consumption. Several advised they renegotiated their own deals following the sessions
- All participants reported now understanding how energy is distributed and supplied to their homes, and all but one could clearly identify the role of retailers versus distributors.
- All participants reported increased confidence in knowing what to do and who to contact in the event of an energy safety issue
Broader training feedback also found that online delivery was not ideal but still effective, interactive workshops are the most engaging format and simple messages, reiterated often, were grasped easier to help participants to form relational connections.
“At the recent milestone event we heard stories from Community Energy Champions about how the Voices for Power Energy Training Program has impacted them and their communities already. Highlighting the value even from early project stages. We also heard from project partners about the importance of co-design and cross-sector collaboration to achieving real and transformative impact.” – Selina O’Connor, Government and Stakeholder Relations Manager, Ausgrid
Following some minor refinements, further training sessions were rolled out across the Voices for Power network in the Nepalese and Chinese communities throughout September.
Moving forward, the vision for the second half of the project is to train at least 140 community members from diverse backgrounds. To learn more and get involved contact Sydney Alliance!
Message from the Chair of the CEO Council – Frank Tudor MD at Jemena, Landowner and Community Enagegement Guide, Customer Voice Jo De Silva at EWOSA, 2021 Independent Accountability Process, #BetterTogether – $1.5 million to support vulnerable customers impacted by COVID Read More