Message from the Chair of the CEO Council, Jemena and Deliotte COVID-19 Research, Mark Henley from United Communities, #BetterTogether Customer Code for Energy Brokers and Retailers and APA’s Amadeus Digital Engagement Read More
In January, Powershop launched the ‘Power It Forward’ program to help customers and others in bushfire-impacted communities by donating a bit extra when paying their bill. In four weeks, 12,500 customers and a kick-starter from Powershop raised $185,000.
This was distributed to customers across 265 bushfire-impacted postcodes, providing bill relief to impacted customers or giving them the opportunity to pay it forward to support local cafés, retail and other small businesses in the area. An example of the Energy Charter principles in action.
Fast forward only two months from the bushfires to COVID-19, and the ‘Power It Forward’ program was launched again this time to support Powershop’s small business customers doing it tough. By putting customers at the centre of their business, Powershop have leveraged their community network to support vulnerable customers and improve their customer experience.
“We wanted to do something together with our customers, to help those who have been most affected by COVID-19. The Power It Forward program has been designed to support the community connection between our customers and it’s just one way we can provide some relief for small businesses that are on the road to recovery.” Jason Stein, CEO Powershop.
With a kick-start contribution of $50,000, and a pledge to match customer contributions dollar for dollar up to $100,000, the Powershop goal is to raise $250,000 that will be used to support Powershop’s small business customers facing vulnerable circumstances. This is how an agile corporate response puts the Energy Charter principles directly into effect for customers.
The money contributed to the ‘Power It Forward’ fund will be distributed to eligible small business customers to provide financial relief on their energy bills. To support the program, Powershop is also actively checking in on their small business customers and offering advice about accessing other support services if they need it.
“This program is an opportunity for our customers to do what was always in their nature to do. Time and time again, we’ve seen our customers go above and beyond to support their community” but also the environment. It’s a privilege to manage a program that facilitates and deepens our customers’ connection with the Powershop community and is a reflection of our commitments as a member of the Energy Charter.” Monica Cheah, Marketing Engagement Lead, Powershop.
Beyond ‘Power It Forward’, Powershop has a range of support options available to both residential and business customers impacted by COVID-19. Fore more information click here.
The Energy Charter CEO Council, made up of 19 CEOs across the Australian energy sector, is pleased to announce the 2020-2022 Independent Accountability Panel. Ben Wilson, Chair of the CEO Council and CEO of AGIG said “I am delighted to welcome Clare Petre, as the Chair of the Independent Accountability Panel, to join ongoing panel members Dr Cassandra Goldie and Mr Andrew Richards for the next three years. Read More
Message from the Chair of the CEO Council, COVID-19 We’ve Got You campaign, Rachelle Gill from Energy Policy WA , #BetterTogether initiatives, and the Industry Working Group 2020 Ways of Working Read More
It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has plunged many in our community into financial hardship. Among those particularly affected have been international students, with limited support networks, who have lost casual jobs and are often ineligible for financial support packages.
Gavin Dufty, Policy and Research and St Vincent de Paul Society and member of the Energy Charter End User Consultative Group (EUCG) comments, “we are helping less people on government pensions and payments, and more overseas students, migrants and refugees with no income, and casual workers who have lost jobs. This change is largely due to the additional government support of one-off payments, and the jobseeker and jobkeeper programs.” (1)
Foodbank Australia have also made a similar observation…“It’s still too early to fully understand the economic and employment impact of COVID-19, but we know that many people who need access to support haven’t had to do so before, as we’re seeing many new faces asking for help—particularly international students with no support network” said Ian Laing, General Manger at Foodbank Australia. (2)
The reality of this situation for students was also evident to La Trobe Student Union Environment Officer, Jake McGuinness. Jake works with La Trobe University and the Australian National Union of Students (NUS) to promote sustainability and environmental advocacy for students and views his role as being the student bodies’ eyes, ears and voice in the room. “It’s important to ensure students’ voices are actually included in the discussion” Jake says.
To support students during this pandemic and help make a difference, Jake reached out to his mum, Kate Goatley – Acting Manager Regulatory & Compliance at ActewAGL Retail. Kate represents ActewAGL in the Energy Charter, and along with the regular Industry Working Group meetings, Kate collaborates through the ‘COVID-19 Response Team’ and #BetterTogether ‘Getting concessions to the right people’ initiatives.
“Working groups are the highlight of my involvement with the Energy Charter. Meeting and working closely with such disparate businesses who operate right across the supply chain, I am frequently energised by the people and ideas to which I’m exposed. I’m seeing and hearing such a genuine desire to find ways to deliver better outcomes for customers and to think outside of the box. It’s inspiring. Attending the EUCG and hearing directly from the advocates about what they’re seeing ‘on the ground’ as a result of events such as the bushfires and COVID-19 have been powerful, regular reminders of who needs to be at the heart of things—the customer” Kate said.
Together, Kate and Jake, proudly supported by the Energy Charter, co-designed an Energy Efficiency resource for students, particularly for those in shared houses, to highlight the easy and practical ways they can reduce their energy use at home and lower their energy bill. In addition, the student Student Affordability resource provides state specific help and advice including how to lower bills, manage paying bills, financial assistance and self-meter reading. Hyperlinks to key information and webpages extends across the energy sector from energy retailers, Energy Networks Australia, the Australian Energy Regulator to state-based Energy and Water Ombudsman. #BetterTogether
“It was great when my son reached out with his idea of creating a simple and clear resource for students to help them navigate the vast array of information around managing their energy and bills, particularly at this time” Kate said.
The Australian National Union of Students is the peak body representing the rights of students across Australia. Together, with the Energy Charter, the NUS distributed these resources through university digital channels and online spaces to international and Australian students around the country. #BetterTogether
COVID-19 message from the Chair of the CEO Council, #BetterTogether initiatives, Gavin Dufty from St Vincent de Paul, Gerard Reilly – Chair of the Industry Working Group and 2020 disclosure process Read More
Message from the incoming Chair of the CEO Council Ben Wilson, CEO of Australian Gas Infrastructure Group (AGIG), #BetterTogether initiatives, Chris Alexander from Energy Consumers Australia and April Progress Update Read More
As intervention across the country to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus increases, the role of energy as an essential service is critical in continuing to ensure the health and safety of all Australians.
CEOs across the Energy Charter signatories understand that these are exceptional circumstances that require a range of strategic responses to manage how they continue to support customers and the community. Across-the-supply chain, teams are working hard to make these happen.
Incoming Chair of the Energy Charter CEO Council, Australian Gas Infrastructure Group CEO Ben Wilson, said this was about putting customers front and centre.
“The community response to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus is unprecedented. As further interventions to slow the rate of disease spreading across the country are imminent, the need for supply of essential services to support our community and ensure everyone’s safety is paramount,” said Mr Wilson on behalf of the CEO Council.
In line with their commitment to the Energy Charter’s five principles, 19 CEOs across the gas and electricity supply chains are working collaboratively to ensure the provision of energy for customers at this time of crisis. They are also committed to supporting those customers hit the hardest during this time of pandemic.
Customers impacted are encouraged to contact their energy retailer or distributor directly to find out what assistance is available to them.
The CEO Council also appreciates the comments of Energy Consumers Australia acknowledging the people in the energy sector and across the community working under pressure at a time of great uncertainty to deliver essential energy and support services.
Formed in January last year, the Energy Charter is a CEO-led initiative of 19 Australian energy companies, including newest signatory Horizon Power, from across the energy supply chain. Companies are focused on embedding customer-centric culture across the sector, and delivering a more affordable, reliable and sustainable energy system. Signatories collectively service more than 10 million Australian energy customers.
For more information visit: www.theenergycharter.com.au.
The Energy Charter signatories
ActewAGL, AGL, APA Group, Aurora Energy, Ausgrid, Australian Gas Infrastructure Group, CleanCo, CS Energy, Endeavour Energy, Energy Queensland Limited including Ergon Energy Network, Energex, Yurika and Ergon Energy Retail, EnergyAustralia, Essential Energy, Horizon Power, Jemena & Ovida, Meridian Energy Australia & Powershop Australia, Origin Energy, Powerlink Queensland, Stanwell and TransGrid.
Nevenka Codevelle, Chair of the Industry Working Group
Group Executive Governance, Risk & Legal, APA Group
Wow, what a year it has been!
We kicked off 2019 with the launch of the Energy Charter. The launch was a significant milestone. Not only did it recognise all the effort and hard work of the Industry Working Group and the End User Consultative Group in developing and co-designing the Energy Charter principles and accountability framework, but it also marked the ‘end of the start and the start of the beginning’. We knew then, as we know now, that ultimately the success of the Energy Charter would be judged by improved customer outcomes and not words.
The ‘start of the beginning’ meant putting in place for the first time all the operational aspects of the Energy Charter – the governance structures, the working groups and the accountability panel process. This involved a huge amount of work and a lot of ‘test and learn’ to give life to what was a world first initiative in creating collective accountability for better customer outcomes across an entire industry supply chain.
Most importantly, it took a lot of trust. Trust not only between the energy industry and consumer and end user groups, but also within the energy industry itself. Conversations were had, and relationships forged and strengthened as we worked towards a common goal. Those conversations, those relationships and the establishment of the Energy Charter operating rhythm were great achievement in 2019, and provides a strong platform to be leveraged for positive change going forward.
Keen to see real improvements happen quickly, the #BetterTogether framework was established. We ended the year with close to 10 #BetterTogether initiatives prioritised with the help of the End User Consultative Group. They include collaborative initiatives requiring coordination across the supply chain such as network tariff reform, 24/7 connections, improved digital metering and better customer communications in times of outage. The #BetterTogether initiatives embody and bring to life the Energy Charter’s vision of ‘Together, deliver energy for a better Australia’ and will be expanded going forward.
Most significantly, 2019 was the first year signatories reported against the Energy Charter principles. If there’s one word to sum up the reporting process, I would say that it was ‘courage’. Courage to have the difficult conversations within businesses and in the boardroom. And courage in adopting a tone of openness and candour in admitting in the Disclosure Reports and in the publicly recorded CEO interviews, that we can and should do better.
It was also the first year of review and assessment by the Independent Accountability Panel. The Panel’s consultation process was robust, its analysis rigorous, and its findings and recommendations constructive. A special thanks to Dr Wendy Craik as Chair of the Panel and the other Panel members for their courage in taking something on completely new and untested, and their preparedness to be part of the change journey for the energy industry.
As an industry, we now have a tremendous reservoir of good ideas and learnings to take back into our individual businesses. Ideas generated by looking at best practice as disclosed in the reports of our peers, the Independent Accountability Panel findings and recommendations as well as the thoughts, ideas and input from the End User Consultative Group. The challenge for us is to translate those learnings into better customer outcomes, which in turn makes our businesses more robust and sustainable.
Any wrap up of 2019 wouldn’t be complete without calling out the people. Being a change agent is a tough gig and requires both conviction and resilience. The bringing together of a wonderful and supportive community of change agents was absolutely a highlight of 2019.
I have often said that in my career, I aim to work with ‘good people to do great things’. With the Energy Charter, I have had the privilege of working with ‘great people to do amazing things’. Those people include everyone involved – the CEO Council, the Industry Working Group, the End User Consultative Group, Energy Consumers Australia (who played a critical role as host of the Accountability Panel) and the Independent Accountability Panel itself. A special call out to John Cleland (Chair of the CEO Council), Sabiene Heindl (Energy Charter Director) and Rosemary Sinclair (CEO of Energy Consumers Australia) whose wise counsel, support and hard work were invaluable.
By Sabiene Heindl, Director of the Energy Charter
Two years ago, I was asked by my then CEO, Rosemary Sinclair of Energy Consumers Australia to collaborate with the energy industry on a project about customer orientation. The Energy Charter, as it was dubbed, was undefined. Nobody knew the “what”, but we all knew intensely that the “why” was due to plummeting public trust levels, and that the “how” demanded consumer and industry co-design.
Fast forward to today. As Director of the Energy Charter, I work with 18 companies across the energy industry on achieving a vision of “together, deliver energy for a better Australia”. This necessarily involves putting customers at the centre of everything we do. Through voluntary disclosures on commitments to five core principles which are assessed by an Independent Accountability Panel, the signatories to the Energy Charter are bringing a strong dose of sunlight to their culture and conduct.
Yet, the Energy Charter is much more than simply disclosures. Rather, it’s a vehicle for conversations and collaboration aimed at better customer outcomes with a collective of changemakers that is growing stronger every day. The term changemaker was coined by the social entrepreneurship organisation, Ashoka. It means one who desires change in the world and, by gathering knowledge and resources, makes that change happen. That collective is expanding to involve industry, consumer representatives, regulators and government.
At our last face-to-face gathering in EnergyAustralia’s offices in Melbourne, the Industry Working Group reflected on the change that energy businesses, both individually and collectively have contributed to through the vehicle of the Energy Charter. It’s early days in the journey, however we shared candidly on the high and low lights of pulling together 30-page disclosures on how customer orientated our businesses were, through a lens of authenticity. We looked at the signatory disclosures and derived inspiration on the cultural change that was underway in the energy sector and how we could leverage that rich information and insights to propel us towards better customer outcomes. And last, but not least, we heard from external guests Ciara Sterling, CEO of Thriving Communities Partnership and Cris Parker, Director of The Ethics Alliance about the enablers that will help us as changemakers.
Throughout this work, we importantly sought to embody the values of the Energy Charter:
- Be invested, make a difference.
- Listen, learn, improve.
- Think big, be bold.
This is the spirit and intent that we bring to the work of the Energy Charter.
As Ciara Sterling highlighted, there are many enablers of change, but perhaps the most important is the individual decision that we as humans make to be responsible for creating and enacting positive change in world. The Energy Charter is a vehicle for inspiring individuals to choose to contribute to better customer outcomes. And through the values of the Energy Charter, we can connect with others that are doing the same thing. Everyday our collective of changemakers is growing and expanding. As 2020 approaches, we are building momentum for this movement and welcoming positive change in the energy system for the benefit of all Australians.