#BetterTogether

The #BetterTogether initiatives leverage high impact areas for meaningful change using the architecture of the Energy Charter to deliver better outcomes for customers. They allow signatories, customer representatives and other stakeholders to showcase the good work that they are doing for customers and take them to a new level through collaboration across the energy sector.

To bring the five Energy Charter principles to life, signatories co-design #BetterTogether initiatives through an innovation framework of ‘ideate, incubate and accelerate’ to build capacity for collaboration across the energy sector. 

Click here for our #BetterTogether innovation framework summary and #BetterTogether FAQ.

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

Led by the Chair of Powerlink Queensland and supported by CleanCo, Horizon Power and Stanwell Corporation.

Why?

The voice of the customer can be amplified at a Board level to appropriately influence strategic direction as highlighted by the Independent Accountability Panel Report 2019.

We are making a difference by…

We have:

  • Collaborated with the Australian Institute for Company Directors (AICD) to contribute to their Guide to Elevating Stakeholder Voices to the Board (which specifically refers to the Energy Charter and our Toolkit)
  • Co-designed with Board Directors the Customer Voice @ Board Resource for wider distribution and use with Energy Charter signatories, board and customer representatives
  • Worked with The Ethics Alliance of the Ethics Centre for distribution of the Resource to directors across Australia in all sectors
  • Click to see our dedicated Customer Voice @ Board webpage for more information and download the Resource. 
We are currently working to further socialise and leverage the Customer Voice @ Board Resource.

Led by APA and Essential Energy together with AGIG, Endeavour Energy, Energy Queensland, Jemena, Horizon Power, Powerlink Queensland, TasNetworks and TransGrid consulting with National Consumer Roundtable.

Why?

Diverse customer and community voices, heard at all levels within businesses and across the sector, need to shape the expectations of the energy industry.

We are making a difference by…

Driving 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.

We have:

  • Developed a Better Practice Toolkit for Customer Engagement
  • Built a Shared Learning Customer Engagement Platform to highlight better examples of customer and stakeholder engagement across signatories 
  • Collaborated with consumer advocates on on supporting consumer advocacy in response to the Independent Accountability Panel’s  Recommendation 13
  • Run OPEN HAUS sessions with consumer advocates to showcase and co-design #BetterTogether initiatives
  • Regularly augmented the Shared Learning Platform to highlight better examples of customer and stakeholder engagement across signatories
  •  Finalised a one-pager for internal staff on why it is important for everyone to engage with customers and community

We are currently co-designing an industry guide for opportunities to support customer advocacy with consumer advocates.

Principle 2: We will improve energy affordability for customers

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

Why?

Feedback from key customers and stakeholders including shippers, gas users, gas user groups and the ACCC suggested a need for improvement in information provided by gas transmission pipelines to increase data and transparency and achieve improved customer outcomes beyond current regulatory obligations.

We are making a difference by…

Increasing gas pipeline sector transparency to improve customer and market outcomes. We have:

  • Built on the first round of independently facilitated workshops with gas pipeline customers (originally held in April 2020) with a series of co-design workshops with customers : APGA news update
  • APGA launched a new pipeline information web portal  designed to be a central, easily navigated repository for publicly reported gas transmission pipeline information. The web portal is comprised mainly of a structured set of links for each individual pipeline to specific categories of information of interest to pipeline customers. All transmission pipelines that transport gas for domestic supply are included
  • Co-designed and facilitated a second round of customer workshops in September/October 2020 on the pipeline information web portal and the Gas Bulletin Board “101” information for customers.

We are working with the Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO) on a new Gas Bulletin Board “101” information for customers to help newcomers to the gas market better understand how to use the Gas Bulletin Board effectively use and understand the information provided.

Led by EnergyAustralia and supported by AGL, CS Energy, Origin Energy and brokers, consultants and customer representatives.

Why?

Energy brokers and consultants are a key part of the energy supply chain to deliver better customer outcomes. Energy Charter signatories are focused on building more trust in the relationships between brokers, consultants and retailers to achieve better customer outcomes.

We are making a difference by…

Improving outcomes for customers, particularly those in commercial and industrial market by driving a principles-based National Customer Code for Energy Brokers, Consultants and Retailers.

We have:

  • Rocket launched the final Customer Code for Energy Brokers, Consultants and Retailers, the first of its kind in Australia in February 2021
  • Established a representative Customer Code Council as a governance framework, with independent chair John Smith
  • Appointed Sales Assured Limited as an independent administrator of the Customer Code

The Customer Code is operational: see our dedicated webpage here.

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.

Why?

There is a growing need for building consensus on equitable and efficient Distributed Energy Resources (DER) access and pricing models across the supply chain. This aligns with the focus on customer-centric principles and the affordability mindset.

We are making a difference by…

The Distributed Energy Integration Program (DEIP) aims to maximise the value of distributed energy resources for all energy users. The DER Access and Pricing work package explored how the economic regulatory framework for electricity networks can evolve to meet changing community expectations. The package aimed to build consensus on equitable and efficient Distributed Energy Resources (solar, batteries, electric vehicles) access and pricing models, focused on customer-centric principles. It consisted of a series of stakeholder engagement workshops, complemented by expert studies into access and pricing options.

In July 2020, members of the Working Group, TEC and ACOSS, submitted a rule change request to the AEMC. In addition, two other rule changes were submitted to AEMC, one from St Vincent de Paul Society Victoria and the other from South Australian Power Networks (SAPN), that also reflected discussions and findings of the DEIP Access and Pricing Package. In April 2021, the AEMC released a draft Rule Change aiming to make room on grid for more home solar and batteries.

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.

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

Led by Powerlink, TransGrid with support from APA and collaborating with National Farmers Federation, NSW Farmers Federation, QLD Farmers Federation, Victorian Farmers Federation, AG Force Qld, the Clean Energy Council, Energy Networks Australia and AEMO.

Why?

There is a need for better engagement between transmission businesses, landowners and communities regarding asset development, particularly in light of AEMO’s Integrated System Plan (ISP) and ongoing development of renewable assets in agricultural land areas.

We are making a difference by…

We have:

Collaboration between CS Energy, CleanCo, APA, EnergyAustralia and Powerlink Queensland.

Why?

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.

We are making a difference by…

Sharing insights on:

  • Better practice on engagement with transitioning communities
  • Case studies from other industries and overseas 
  • Ways to create opportunities and choice for impacted people including employees and contractors
  • Opportunities for empowering communities through:
    • Transparently and publicly sharing information about plans to transition their portfolios to a lower carbon future
    • Connecting host communities to one another, so they can exchange information and learning
    • Connecting transitioning communities to networks of experience and expertise, both in Australia and internationally
    • Participating in communities’ planning for long term economic and community resilience
    • Not leaving the most vulnerable behind
    • Understanding and leveraging the uniqueness of each community/region
  • Platform for communities to connect and collaborate.

Principle 4: We will improve the customer experience

Led by Jemena, Powershop and ActewAGL with contributors across Energy Charter signatories.

Why?

Empowering customers through clear and accessible communications is an important way to improve customer experience. By leveraging common messages and clear and accessible resources we can improve our customers’ and communities’ experiences in the energy sector. 

We are making a difference by…

Leveraging common messages, clear and accessible resources through the Energy Charter Communal Content Hub to better improve our customers’ and communities’ experiences in the energy sector.

We have:

  • Launched the Energy Charter Communal Content Hub as a central repository for customer facing communications material such as energy efficiency guides and energy literacy
  • Shared and leveraged Communal Content Hub material across signatories for the benefit of all customers segments. This means not re-inventing wheels for customer communications but using the good work of others to help all customers with a consistent message and create cost efficiencies in the production of content across the supply chain.
We are continuing to update the Communal Content Hub regularly. To see our dedicated webpage click here.

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

Why?

Customers need easy access to relevant information to make informed choices and improve their experience. The COVID-19 pandemic has been an extremely challenging time for Australians with many facing financial vulnerability, heightening the need for access to information.

We are making a difference by…

Speaking with one voice to empower customers and communities around making energy decisions and seeking support, particularly given the impact of COVID-19.

To support customers and communities and ensure they have access to the right resources, Energy Charter signatories have developed and disseminated:

  1. Energy Charter “We’ve got you” customer facing awareness communications
  2. Energy Charter COVID-19 Customer Resources with links to support available for households and small business customers impacted by COVID-19 
  3. Student COVID-19 Energy Resource and Student COVID-19 Energy Efficiency Tips  distributed across the entire Australian student university population with support from the National Union of Students
  4. Energy Efficiency Tips @home with efficiency tips across heating, cooling, hot water, electrical appliances, cooking and lighting for households
  5. Translated key resources to ensure accessibility for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) community in line with the recommendations of the Ethnic Communities Council of NSW report.

We are continuing to share relevant COVID-19 communications with consumers and communities as is appropriate, including with the support of community partners.

Led by AGIG with Essential Energy, EnergyAustralia, Powershop and Alinta.

Why?

Disconnections of gas and electricity for non-payment should be a last resort. We want customers to stay connected to their energy and reduce the number of energy disconnections, especially given the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on many in our communities.

We are making a difference by…

Working between networks and retailers to build on a trial by Essential Energy in December 2019 where field crews delivered letters advising customers to contact their retailer in regard to outstanding payments. As a result, 80% of disconnections were cancelled and customers stayed connected to their energy.

We have:

  • Commenced “Knock before you Disconnect” trial at Multinet Gas Networks (MGN) with Alinta, EnergyAustralia and Powershop
  • Worked with participating retailers to assess the numbers of customers ‘engaging’ with them following the MGN contact or letter drop
  • Reassessed the process with retailers for vacant sites (mainly business customers where the business has closed)
  • Disconnected sites only where the customer was engaged and requested the disconnection to proceed
  • Shared “Knock before you Disconnect” experiences with Endeavour Energy, Essential Energy and Australian Gas Networks as these businesses are running similar trials or considering commencing trials.
We are currently working to bring more retailers into the #Knock before you Disconnect” trials and expand them across Energy Charter networks.

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

Why?

Imagine you are moving home on a Friday night at 8pm, only to realise that you forgot to call your energy retailer to connect the power? Customers will no longer be left without power overnight or over the weekend, as they can now connect 24/7.

We are making a difference by…

Offering customers quicker electricity connection processes.

We have:

  • Expanded on the initial stage – EnergyAustralia kicked off live testing for customers in late 2019 in the Jemena electricity network. The 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
  • Expanded live testing between Jemena to AGL customers in Phase 2, with more than 90 percent of customers connected within 1 hour of their preferred time
  • Successfully implemented remote connection in Jemena area where customers can now choose a preferred time to have their power turned on. This has eliminated the number of times customer need to call back due to connection exceptions
  • Expanded the trial to Powershop and Alinta Energy in 2020.

Live testing commenced in late 2019 with an average connection time of just 1.46 hrs. The initiative is currently expanding to a range of Energy Charter retailers and distributors across Victoria. Learnings and insights are being shared to generate better customer outcomes during 2021. We are currently continuing to operationalise this trial to improve customer outcomes.

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

Why?

New gas connections requirements differ across Victoria making it complex and costly for customers and others in the supply chain such as developers.

We are making a difference by…

Making it easier for customers to connect to gas in Victoria irrespective of their postcode area.

We have:

  • Met fortnightly includes 3 distributors and 3 retailers in a working group focused on bringing this to life for customers
  • Finalised communications explaining the Victorian New Connection 10 step process
  • Communicated the new process / documents to retailers to share with their internal teams/builders/customers/stakeholders
  • Implemented a feedback loop process to monitor progress by the distributors
  • Published the Victorian New Connection 10 step process on distributor websites: see The ‘Vic New Connection 10 step process included Builders Information I Multinet Gas and Applying for Your Gas Service I Australian Gas Networks.

We will:

  •  Assess “other” communications strategies to get wider circulation of the process (after monitoring progress)
  • Continue to track progress and provide regular feedback to retailers with regular meetings to be held post implementation
  • Continue the communication and education with builders/ customers and stakeholders
  • Monitor outcomes for customers.

Principle 5: We will support customers facing vulnerable circumstances

Led by Jemena, ActewAGL, Energy Queensland, Essential Energy, Powershop and Simply Energy.

Why?

COVID-19 continues to have a significant impact on our customers and communities. In July 2020, Jemena collaborated with Deloitte on a first round of customer research on the impacts of COVID-19. Since that time additional waves of quarterly research have been run through this #BetterTogether collaboration during December 2020, March 2021 and June 2021. Each round of research has been launched with a CEO Insights Panel with CEO and other leading consumer experts from across Australia and internationally to discuss the insights.

We are making a difference by…

Providing a national view on the lived experience of those impacted by COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021 and using these insights to drive better outcomes for customers in vulnerable circumstances.

View the snapshot placemats and full reports on our dedicated webpage: Wave 1, Wave 2 and Wave 3

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

Why?

44 percent of Australians have low English literacy, including many from CALD communities, therefore customer communications such as energy bills, letters and service updates need to be more accessible to truly address their affordability concerns.

We are making a difference by…

Creating a platform for conversations around energy to increase energy literacy in CALD communities by supporting an innovative energy literacy online ‘train the trainer’ program run by the Voices for Power project of the Sydney Alliance. The Sydney Alliance is a collaboration of community leaders and institutions from seven CALD communities in Sydney. For more information click here.

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).

Why?

Many customers eligible for concessions are either unaware or do not access their benefits and miss out on helpful energy and water bill discounts.

We are making a difference by…

To help support customers in light of COVID-19, Energy Charter retailers are collaborating 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. Need more info on concessions?  Please look at concessions info on Energy Charter retailer websites.

We are now working with the South Australian Council of Social Service in research about concessions across all States and Territories. Stay tuned for the research to be released shortly.

Completed

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.

Why?

In 2019/20, bushfires raged across the Australian East Coast, devastating a large number of our customers and communities.

We are making a difference by…

Ensuring those impacted by bushfires are well-supported by Energy Charter signatories. This initiative focuses on:

  • Information sharing across Energy Charter signatories, customer and community representatives and government
  • Leveraging experience from other natural disasters including the 2009 Black Saturday Victorian fires and the 2019 Townsville floods
  • Building frameworks and systems, including an agreed incident framework reporting between networks and retailers to support customers for future natural disasters
  • Preparing for the 2020/21 bushfire season to support customers.

Led by Energy Queensland and Powerlink, with support from CS Energy, APA and TransGrid.

Why?

Customer expectations are changing, and the energy industry is experiencing transition at an unprecedented rate. The required workforce skills and capabilities to support a successful and sustainable  future will be different to those needed in the past.

We are making a difference by…

Undertaking a Future Energy Skills review to a) clearly identify and articulate the anticipated skills and capabilities required in the future across all parts of the energy supply chain and b) identify and 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 skilled and motivated workforce participants.

We have:

  • Shared and reviewed all existing material on future energy skills and providing a high level report on the environmental view of the impacts to the energy industry supply chain
  • Identified and engaged with key stakeholders to understand the work going on in this space and how this can be aggregated + integrated at an industry level to add value as part of this initiative.

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