#BetterTogether

The #BetterTogether initiatives are collaborative initiatives that focus on delivering tangible customer and community outcomes. Using an innovation framework of ‘ideate, incubate and accelerate’ they encourage signatories from across the supply chain, customer representatives and other stakeholders to co-design and collaborate with a focus on customers and communities.

For more information on our framework:

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Search #BetterTogether initiatives by clicking on the Energy Charter principles below or scroll down the page.

Principle 1

We will put customers at the centre of our business and the energy system

Principle 2

We will improve energy affordability for customers

Principle 3

We will provide energy safely, sustainably and reliably

Principle 4

We will improve the customer experience

Principle 5

We will support customers facing vulnerable circumstances

Principle 1: We will put customers at the centre of our business and the energy system

Overview: Drives robust and fit-for-purpose customer, community and stakeholder engagement activities to shape business culture and decision making based on the voice of the customer. It is now a collaboration with the Water Services Association of Australia.

Collaborators: Led by Essential Energy and Melbourne Water, with participants from AGIG, Endeavour Energy, Energy Queensland, Jemena, Horizon Power, Powerlink Queensland, TasNetworks and Transgrid consulting with consumer advocates and working with water utilities across Australia.

Outcomes: This is an ongoing initiative, and since inception, this #BT has developed a range of digital resources supporting Energy Charter signatories to ensure a diverse range of customer and community voices are heard at all levels within businesses and across the sector to shape the expectations of the energy industry. In 2022 the focus of is on ‘insights sharing’ together with the water sector to support signatories to learn and build capability around knowing their customers and community. February (“Customer Data Insights for Engagement” KPMG) and March (“Priority Services Register” AGIG).

Next steps: April (“Meters gained – Barwon Water partners with Birregurra community”), May (“Lived experience with customer insights” PIAC and TasCOSS)

Outputs: Shared Learning Platform   #BetterTogether – Know your Customers and Communities initiative in action #BetterTogether – Collaborating for better customer engagement   #BetterTogether – Supporting Consumer Advocacy Better Practice Customer Engagement Toolkit     Better Practice Consumer Advocacy Support Guide    #BetterTogether

Last updated: March 2022

Overview: Led by First Nations leaders in the energy sector, we are focused on better engagement and collaboration with First Nations people, in partnership with the water industry.

Collaborators: Led by TasNetworks, Essential Energy, Energy Queensland, SA Water, Transgrid, EWON, Horizon Power and Greater Western Water with other water and energy businesses and advocates.

Outcomes: First Nations Listening Session (200+ attendees).

Next steps: March (“Aboriginal Engagement Framework” Horizon Power)

Last updated: March 2022

Principle 2: We will improve energy affordability for customers

Overview: The Customer Code improves outcomes for customers, particularly those in commercial and industrial markets, by driving a principles-based National Customer Code for Energy Brokers, Consultants and Retailers, with independent Chair and Administrator. The Code is administered by an Independent Administrator and Code Council with independent Chair.

Collaborators: Led by EnergyAustralia and supported by CS Energy, Aurora Energy, Horizon Power, Stanwell together with brokers, consultants and customer representatives.

Outcomes: There are currently 44 energy brokers, consultants and retailer signatories who continue to learn and share through National Customer Code events and resources. In Feb 2022 we will host a Customer Code Roundtable to focus on how we can collaborate to solve customer pain points across industry.

Outputs: National Customer Code for Energy Brokers, Consultants and Retailers Checklist for energy contract procurement  Checklist for large energy users

Last updated: March 2022

Overview: This #BT aims to raise the standards of practice, strengthen trust and confidence and deliver better outcomes for residential and small business customers through commercial comparators and moving services, as recommended by the ACCC Retail Electricity Pricing Report 2018.

Collaborators: A Code Builder Group made up of EnergyAustralia, AGL, Origin, Make it Cheaper, Compare & Connect, MoveMeIn, Direct Connect, Tango Energy, iSelect, Red Energy, Business Australia and the Energy & Water Ombudsman South Australia.

Outcomes: The National Comparator Code has been drafted and released for stakeholder consultation during March (including the ACCC and AER). The Comparator Code Council, Independent Chair and Administrator have been appointed.

Outputs: Draft National Customer Code for Energy Comparators and Moving Services

Next steps: Final Customer Code to be released Q2 2022

Last updated: March 2022

Principle 3: We will provide energy safely, sustainably and reliably

Overview: Developing and sharing insights on better practice community empowerment for transition as many of our communities will be impacted by Australia’s transition to a lower carbon generation mix. While this may have economic impacts, there are also opportunities for communities to benefit from the transition.

Collaborators:  Collaboration with CS Energy, CleanCo, APA, EnergyAustralia, Essential Energy, Powerlink and other externals.

Outcomes: February (Forum with Dr Charlie Ogilvie, Director of Strategy for COP26 on behalf or Stonehaven Australia).

Last updated: March 2022

Overview: Collaboration to deliver better outcomes for landholders and communities, particularly linked to the Integrated System Plan, renewable energy zones and transmission infrastructure.

Collaborators: Led by Powerlink, Transgrid, TasNetworks and APA, with support from Ag Energy Taskforce, National Farmers Federations, national farming bodies, AEMC and ENA.

Outcomes: Launch of the Better Practice Guide to Landholder and Community Engagement. Engagement with the AEMC regarding the Transmission Planning and Investment Review.

Outputs: Landowner and Community Engagement #BetterTogether – Improving engagement with regional landowners for shared outcomes    

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

Next steps: Collaboration to undertake research to improve engagement and outcomes for agricultural landowners affected or proposed to be affected by energy transmission infrastructure. The research is proposed to:

  1. Provide a clear (plain English) understanding of the potential practical impacts that energy transmission infrastructure may have on agricultural operations
  2. Identify potential benefits of co-existence
  3. Identify practical modifications and mitigations that could be considered, by both agricultural operators and transmission infrastructure, to minimise potential impacts
  4. Identify potential opportunities to improve co-existence outcomes, to dually support sustainable agricultural production and transmission planning and operation.

The research will guide the individual and collective response of the energy sector and insights will be translated into practical actions and outcomes on the ground.

Last updated: March 2022

Principle 4: We will improve the customer experience

Overview: Builds on the successful trial by Essential Energy (now BAU) where field crews delivered letters advising customers to contact their retailer regarding outstanding payments. As a result, 80% of disconnections were cancelled and customers stayed connected to their energy.

Collaborators:  Led by AGIG in collaboration with Alinta, EnergyAustralia and Powershop and support from Essential Energy, SA Power Networks and Endeavour Energy.

Outcomes: Essential Energy trialled pre-COVID-19 and is now BAU, Endeavour Energy continue to trial into 2022, AGIG (gas) trialled during 2021 with interruptions due to COVID-19 and will review processes in 2022. SA Power Networks trialled in 2018/19 and is now implementing through a Vulnerable Customer Strategy in Q1 2022. Ausgrid, Jemena and Aurora Energy are currently assessing a trial. This #BT has growing interest from regulators and community organisations. Signatories are currently sharing approaches across the industry including resources such as training and scripts for field staff, letters to customers and internal process maps to support a potential broader roll out of the program and to chart how collectively, learnings could be captured and shared broadly.

Learn More: #BetterTogether – Networks and retailers working together to ensure customers stay connected  #BetterTogether

Last updated: March 2022

Overview: This #BT leverages common messages, clear and accessible resources through the Energy Charter Communal Content Hub to better improve our customers and communities.

Collaborators:  Led by Jemena and Powershop, supported by ActewAGL, Essential Energy and WA Energy Department.

Outcomes: Continued development of the online resource library featuring customer and community facing communications and links to useful information on a range of topics about energy.

Outputs: Energy Charter Communal Content Hub

Last updated: March 2022

Overview: Supporting customers before, during and after a disaster event by co-designing a ‘Disaster Response Playbook’ for the energy sector with clearly defined roles, processes and use of emergency response agency information. This will enable a more coordinated and process driven approach to customer support during this time. The playbook will help inform what type of information needs to be shared with who and in what time frame. It draws on disaster research conducted by Thriving Communities Partnership in the Townsville floods.

Collaborators: Led by AGIG in collaboration with Ausgrid, Energy Queensland, Powershop, AGL, Endeavour and Essential Energy.

Next steps: Co-design a Disaster Response Playbook in the form of a framework with shared language to plan coordinated processes to support customers before, during and after a disaster event from Dec 21 to Feb 22.

Learn more: Thriving Communities Partnership Disaster Planning and Recovery Research

Last updated: March 2022

Principle 5: We will support customers facing vulnerable circumstances

Overview: Empowers CALD community leaders to support others to take control of their energy concerns, adopt simple energy safety practices, and negotiate a better deal on their power bills.

Collaborators:  Led by AGL, Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy, Jemena and Origin Energy in collaboration with Sydney Alliance (Voices for Power).

Outcomes: 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.

Next steps: Phase 2 of the program will be rolled out in 2022 with supporters from Ausgrid, Endeavour and Jemena.

Learn More: #BetterTogether – Collaborating to support energy literacy for culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) customers   #BetterTogether

Last updated: March 2022

Overview: Facilitates Energy Charter collaboration with partners across sectors, including Thriving Communities Partnership and the water sector, to reach eligible customers and inform them about available concessions including through reciprocal call centre scripts.

Collaborators:  Led by ActewAGL, supported by AGL, Aurora, EnergyAustralia, Energy Queensland, Horizon Power, Origin Energy and Powershop in collaboration with Thriving Communities Partnership and the Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA).

Outcomes: In addition to the cross-sector collaboration activity to ensure eligible customers are made aware of concessions or to assist them in accessing their benefits, this #BT is working with SACOSS in research about concessions across all States and Territories. Preliminary data analysis has been completed; the final wave of research has been delayed due to COVID-19. Awaiting release of research (expected Q2 2022).

Last updated: March 2022

Overview: Better support for life support customers based on the recommendations of the Australian Energy Foundation research (funded by Energy Consumers Australia).

Collaborators: Led by AGIG and SA Power Networks, with support from Ausgrid, Essential Energy, Endeavour Energy, EnergyAustralia, AGL, TasNetworks and Aurora Energy.

Outcomes: To better prioritise life support customer care, we are setting up an Expert Advisory Panel with the Australian Medical Association, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians on how life support status is determined and administered. Collaboration with the water sector to understand incident management and vulnerable customer prioritisation.

Last updated: March 2022

Completed

Overview: Amplified the voice of the customer at a Board level to appropriately influence strategic direction as highlighted by the Independent Accountability Panel Report 2019. Customer Voice @ Board Insights Overview – November 2021.

Collaborators: Led by the Chair of Powerlink Queensland and supported by CleanCo, Horizon Power and Stanwell Corporation, Ethics Alliance

Outcomes: Co-designed the #BetterTogether – Customer Voice @ Board Resource for Company Directors resource for a business wishing to embrace the customer voice at a board level and looking for practical insights as to how this may be done. Launched with support and endorsement from the Australian Institute for Company Directors (AICD) and presented to AEMC Commissioners.

Output: #BetterTogether – Customer Voice @ Board Resource for Company Directors

Learn More: Customer Voice @ Board  #BetterTogether – sharing better practice to amplify the voice of customers at board level

Last updated: March 2022

Overview: Addressed the changing workforce skills and capabilities required to meet customer expectations and support a successful and sustainable future as the energy industry experiences transition at an unprecedented rate.

Collaborators: Led by Energy Queensland and Powerlink, with support from CS Energy, APA and Transgrid.

Outcomes: Reviewed future energy skills to clearly identify and articulate the anticipated skills and capabilities required across all parts of the energy supply chain. Identify/bolster existing pathways into the industry, cultivate new pathways, and uplift the branding and value proposition of energy sector careers to ensure a continuous supply of a skilled and motivated workforce.

This initiative has been transferred to wider industry work regarding Future Energy Skills including through the API Workforce initiative.

Last updated: March 2022

Overview: Responded to feedback from key customers and stakeholders, including shippers, gas users, gas user groups, and the ACCC to improve information provided by gas transmission pipelines to increase transparency and improve customer and market outcomes beyond current regulatory obligations.

Collaborators: Led by the Australian Pipelines and Gas Association, supported by APA, AGIG and Jemena

Outcomes: Improved communication to customers by co-designing (with gas pipeline customers) a new pipeline information web portal acting as a central easy to navigate repository for publicly reported gas transmission pipeline information. Further collaboration completed with Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO) on a new Gas Bulletin Board “101” information for customers.

Output: New pipeline information web portal.

Last updated: March 2022

Overview: Supported the Distributed Energy Integration Program (DEIP) to explore the economic regulatory framework for electricity networks can evolve to meet changing community expectations and build consensus on equitable and efficient Distributed Energy Resources (solar, batteries, electric vehicles) access and pricing models, focused on customer-centric principles.

Collaborators: Led by ARENA, Australian Council of Social Services, Australian Energy Market Commission, Australian Energy Regulator, Energy Consumers Australia, Total Environment Centre and supported by AGL, Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy, Energy Queensland, Essential Energy, Horizon Power, Origin Energy and TransGrid

Outcomes: Submitted a rule change request to the AEMC that reflected discussions and findings from the DEIP Access and Pricing Package. On 12 August 2021, the AEMC’s final Rule Change on Smart Solar was released. The reforms are designed to get more small-scale solar and batteries into the grid.

Last updated: March 2022

Overview: Trialled 24/7 electricity connections service to enable customers faster connections when they’re left without power overnight or through the weekend. Live testing commenced in late 2019 with an average connection time of just 1.46 hrs in the Jemena electricity network with EnergyAustralia in Phase 1 and AGL in Phase 2. 24/7 Connections service trial was then expanded with Powershop and Alinta Energy in 2020.

Collaborators: Led by EnergyAustralia and Jemena, with rollout to AGL, Origin and Powershop.

Outcomes: Phase 1 trial showed that by aligning back-end systems, the vast majority of customers were able to have their electricity connected an hour after they called EnergyAustralia. Phase 2 ensured more than 90 percent of customers connected within 1 hour of their preferred time. Learnings and insights have been shared during 2021 and this trial continues to operate to improve customer outcomes. This is now BAU between participating collaborators.

Last updated: March 2022

Overview: This #BT made it easier for customers to connect to gas in Victoria irrespective of their postcode area, as new gas connections requirements differ across Victoria, making it complex and costly for customers and others in the supply chain, such as developers. Victoria Gas New Connections Insights Overview – November 2021­­

Collaborators: Led by AGIG, AGN, APA, AusNet and current running a trial with Origin Energy, AGL and EnergyAustralia

Outcomes: The 3 Victorian gas distribution businesses have worked together to improve and standardise the new gas connection process in Victoria to make it easier for customers to connect to gas, irrespective of their postcode area, improving the customer experience. This included: A. Site readiness document to standardise ‘site ready’ requirements and technical differences across the state Multinet Gas Builders Information B. 10 Step Process for new Victorian gas connections Australian Gas Networks – Gas Connection Victoria, Multinet Gas Applying for your gas service connection.

Learn More: #BetterTogether – Collaborating across the energy supply chain to improve the experience of customers connecting to gas in Victoria.

Last updated: March 2022

Overview: This #BT ensured thatcustomers impacted by the 2019-20 Australian bushfires were better supported by Energy Charter signatories.

Collaborators: Led by Powershop and supported by ActewAGL, AGIG, AGL, Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy, Essential Energy, Energy Queensland, EnergyAustralia, Jemena, Origin Energy, TransGrid in collaboration with Thriving Communities Partnership.

Outcomes: Building frameworks and systems, including an agreed incident framework reporting between networks and retailers to support customers for future natural disasters. The new #BetterTogether – Resilience initiatives aims to build on this #BT Bushfire Response.

Last updated: March 2022

Overview: This #BT allowed the energy industry spoke with one voice to empower customers and communities around making energy decisions and to ensure they had access to the right support, particularly given the impact of COVID-19.

Collaborators: Led by Jemena with support from ActewAGL and the National Union of Students and communicated through Energy Charter signatories.

Outcomes: Successfully implemented the We’ve Got You customer campaign and other customer support resources.

Learn More: COVID-19 Customer Support.

Last updated: March 2022

Overview: This #BT expanded on the Jemena’s customer research in collaboration with Deloitte in July 2020 with extended customer vulnerability research in four quarterly rounds over 2020-2021. The insights have been leveraged to better understand customers impacted by COVID-19 and how the energy sector can help them.

Collaborators: Led by Jemena, ActewAGL, Energy Queensland, Essential Energy, Powershop and Simply Energy with Deloitte

Outcomes: Signatories committed more than $1.5 million over the next year to deliver and augment a range of programs across Australia, including with community organisations, to step up support for customers in vulnerable circumstances.

Learn More: COVID-19 Customer Vulnerability Research and $1.5 million to support vulnerable customers impacted by COVID.

Last updated: March 2022