#BetterTogether – The Energy Charter starting to deliver real change for customers

Energy Charter signatory CEO discussions with the Independent Accountability Panel have identified how the Energy Charter is starting to deliver real change for customers. For many signatories this has been about setting up the right foundations to kick off customer-centric initiatives and strategically align their businesses with the principles of the Energy Charter.

“What the Energy Charter does is sharpen that focus and hold us accountable and provide a mechanism for us to actually explain what initiatives we are putting in place and what successes we are seeing as a consequence of being focused taking a customer centric approach to the way that we run our business.” – Mark Algie, Board Director Energy Queensland

“I loved the idea personally of signing up to the Energy Charter because it was so aligned with my own internal view of our strategy and where we needed to take our business.  There were some very strong principles in there that as a business we ascribe to but had not strongly embedded across the full value chain.” – Stephanie Unwin, CEO Horizon Power

The 2020 disclosure reports provide rich information about innovative customer focused initiatives generating tangible customer and business benefits. Many signatories have delivered valuable internal work programs and overall strategy to drive customer outcomes based on their Energy Charter involvement including:

  • Authentic engagement with customers to drive decision-making within their business. For example, APA Group expanded its Customer Feedback Program, instituted Voice of Customer research, developed customer satisfaction metrics and pioneered a transmission customer forum to provide a feedback loop on grid enhancement initiatives
  • “We surveyed our customers and have got a program of work directly on of the back of what happened last year in the Energy Charter. We are changing the way the relationship with Alinta works around affordability. These are two tangible things that happened directly as a result of our involvement of the Energy Charter.” Andrew Bills, CEO CS Energy
  • Support for vulnerable customers included a joint commitment by Powerlink and Energy Queensland to establish a community support-based partnership to deliver two key programs with the Indigenous Consumer Assistance Network (ICAN).

While the Energy Charter isn’t about league tables, transparency about outcomes for customers in a measurable way has enabled signatories the opportunity to level up their business practices for continuous improvement, and there’s always friendly competition to do better.

“It’s best practice sharing, with an ambition to level up.” Ben Wilson, CEO AGIG and Chair, CEO Council

“When I look at the Energy Charter and the lessons learned from the first year, I want to take all of those lessons and embed them right from the get-go at CleanCo so that we are effectively having that beautiful kind of synergy between everything internal and external and everything that faces our customers ultimately.”- Maia Schweizer, CEO CleanCo

The Energy Charter’s Maturity Model has also created an important tool for businesses to authentically reflect on their progress on putting customer at the centre of their business and stretch themselves towards better.

“It was actually probably one of the best conversations we’ve had as an executive group because we got to compare, contrast and reflect ….that’s really powerful and assists us in either challenging ourselves or encouraging us to do more for customers.” Rebecca Kardos, CEO Aurora Energy

Real change for customers across the supply chain is also gaining momentum through the #BetterTogether (#BT) initiatives that focus on customer pain points and co-design opportunities through an innovation framework to deliver better outcomes in alignment with Energy Charter Principles and drive customer-centric culture change deeper within signatories, creating a #BT community that connects collaborators across the energy sector.

“The #BetterTogether initiatives are fantastic and I think the best outcome of the Energy Charter really because it’s up its where the action happens and where you get the outcomes for customers” – Jason Stein, CEO Powershop

“For me personally, there are some great examples of how we can work collaboratively across the entire industry to deliver better results for people. Amongst these include, the 24/7 connections #BetterTogether initiative, which we led with Energy Australia. In this example, two companies came together to meet a clearly known customer pain point and worked together to define and resolve it. The Energy Charter provides the architecture for doing something, learning, and when we get it to a point that it works, spreading it out across the signatories of the Energy Charter for more Australians to benefit” – Frank Tudor, MD Jemena

As Ben Wilson, Chair of the CEO Council and AGIG CEO said in the Energy Charter disclosure, the Energy Charter is not an industry body or a regulator. It is complementary. It is focused outward, on customers. Signatories aim for “highest common denominator” – pushing each other to deliver for customers by promoting examples of best practice for signatories to adopt and collaborate in targeted groups to deliver specific projects through our #BetterTogether initiatives.

Last year was foundational for the Energy Charter. This year the rubber is hitting the road. As the CEOs articulate above, the Energy Charter creates unique opportunities to better support Australians, to step beyond business-as-usual and demonstrate as a sector we are working together on the vision of the Energy Charter to “deliver energy for a better Australia”.

“The Energy Charter is about what we make of it. For us it’s an important learning opportunity and networking opportunity, but we can actually get as much out of it as we put in… It is about customers, and if we don’t have customers, then we don’t have a business.  Overall, the Energy Charter is what we really make of it and how we contribute.” Richard van Breda, CEO Stanwell

There’s always more to do, but the culture change accelerated by the Energy Charter is gaining momentum.

The Energy Charter November News Update

Message from the Chair of the CEO Council, IAP Stakeholder Forums and CEO Meetints, Ross Womersley SACOSS, #BetterTogether Draft National Customer Code for Energy Brokers and Communal Content Hub featured resource Read More

#BetterTogether – Energy Charter architecture enables successful collaboration across the sector

Currently, Energy Charter signatories are working through the Independent Accountability Panel (IAP) process aimed at driving transparency and accountability of progress towards commitments made under the five customer-centric principles of the Energy Charter. Insights from CEO interviews have highlighted that the architecture of the Energy Charter has enabled successful collaboration across the energy sector that was not happening before.

“We’ve now got an opportunity to go up the supply chain and actually unpack some of the issues that have been incredibly difficult to get into over the last decade or more.” John Knox, CEO ActewAGL

The Energy Charter’s 18-strong CEO Council and Industry Working Group, including champions from across the supply chain, and the End-User Consultative Group collaborate through the unique architecture the Energy Charter to deliver tangible outcomes for customers across the energy sector.

“The second key thing that drives me that I’ve taken out of the Energy Charter is the need to work together… We’ve been a bit solo in how we approach issues… Now we ask how can we work together on this? How can we get other people involved or other businesses and other stakeholders involved in (a) in recognising the issue, (b) solving the issue and (c) just doing it all together? These will feed and drive how we change this place.” Richard Gross, CEO Ausgrid

Three key themes have emerged from the CEO interviews that demonstrate how the Energy Charter is enabling successful collaboration. These include:

1. Sharing and learning

“I really feel that the industry is trying really hard to work together well to do the right thing and that they’re willing to share and learn together and particularly through this COVID-19 process. As an example, at the last Energy Charter meeting of CEOs, we were able to share our voice of the customer presentation” – Jason Stein, CEO Powershop

Guided by the Ways of Working focused on Communication, Mutual Respect, Building Trust, Diversity and Shared Values, signatories have learnt from each other about what has worked, and importantly, what didn’t work, on pivoting their businesses towards better customer outcomes, especially through the 2019-20 Australian bushfires and COVID-19 pandemic.

Sharing practical information such as how to engage employees better, how to deliver better customer experience and how to authentically operate in communities with shared values has also been valuable in developing cultural change.

In addition to this, the #BetterTogether – Communal Content Hub is a resource library featuring customer and community facing communications for all signatories to share with customers and communities or adapt their own versions.

“You can see the benefit of learning from each other … that’s helped us as a business. That’s helped us as an industry.” Guy Chalkey, CEO Endeavour Energy

2. Platform for safe conversations

Unique to the Energy Charter, and critical to its success, is that all parts of the supply chain are represented and passionate about embedding a customer-centric culture within the Australian energy industry. This has created a unique opportunity for bigger systemic issues about customers to be examined and solutions co-designed by champions across the sector.

“The Energy Charter provides a good platform for a safe conversation about how to navigate some of those more complex issues which may not just be within the footprint of ActewAGL Retail, they’re likely to be up and down the supply chain as well” John Knox, CEO ActewAGL

3. Building trust and relationships across the supply chain

The Energy Charter’s core values “Be invested, make a difference”, “Be open, learn and improve”, and “Think big, be bold” has helped signatories to focus on building trust and relationships across the supply chain to make it easier to achieve our individual and collective goals. Whilst customer outcomes matter, the culture that is embodied to achieve them is also important and the Industry Working Group meeting champions regularly have a deep dive discussion into the Ways of Working.

“We need to learn. An important part of the Energy Charter is actually looking at other organizations, the networking opportunities that provides, and the opportunities to take on board what other organizations are doing. We’ve got to take an outward in look.” Richard van Breda, CEO Stanwell


Finally, the #BetterTogether initiatives provide a key vehicle for innovative collaboration across the energy supply chain and connect hundreds of co-collaborators within the #BetterTogether community who are collectively focused on driving deeper a customer-centric culture across the sector.

“The real plus of the Energy Charter is trying to get collaboration across the whole industry so that the customer can see just one face.” Guy Chalkey, CEO Endeavour Energy

The CEO interviews with the IAP provide valuable insights into each of the businesses ranging from board and leadership focus on customer voice, the erosion of trust and confidence in business, key metrics and measures for improvements, proactive support for customers in vulnerable circumstances, the impact of COVID-19 on customers and communities and the value of the Energy Charter. To view, visit the IAP website.

The Energy Charter October News Update

Message from the Chair of the CEO Council, 2019/20 Disclosure Reports, Independent Accountability (IAP) process, CEO Meetings, Stakeholder Forums, #BetterTogether Draft National Customer Code for Energy Brokers and Communal Content Hub featured resource Read More

Energy consumers invited to have their say

Australian energy users are being invited to have their say on energy generators, distribution and transmission companies and retailers. Today sees a period of public consultation commence in which electricity and gas customers are specifically invited to comment on the disclosures of 19 Australian energy companies, all of which are signatories to the Energy Charter.

Australian energy users are being invited to have their say on energy generators, distribution and transmission companies and retailers. Today sees a period of public consultation commence in which electricity and gas customers are specifically invited to comment on the disclosures of 19 Australian energy companies, all of which are signatories to the Energy Charter.

Signatories’ disclosures benchmark the improvements Energy Charter companies undertake to be more customer focused over a 12-month period. They also measure the progress signatories have made against the recommendations handed down by the Independent Accountability Panel last year.

Chair of the Energy Charter CEO Council, Ben Wilson said that despite a number of issues faced in the past year, energy company signatories to the Energy Charter have made a concerted effort to collaborate along the supply chain and put customers first.

“This has been an extremely challenging year for our customers, communities and signatories with bushfires, floods and the COVID-19 pandemic. However, with these challenges also come unique opportunities to better support Australians, to step beyond business-as-usual and demonstrate as a sector we are working together on the vision of the Energy Charter to ‘deliver energy for a better Australia’.

We welcome the opportunity for customers, communities and their representatives to have their say about whether the energy sector has met their expectations” Mr Wilson said.

Over the past 12 months through the Energy Charter, signatories have collectively:

  • Produced a focused awareness campaign during COVID-19 to inform customers of the help available to them. They highlighted opportunities to discuss bills and energy usage, with information and support messaging translated across 10 languages, together with customer resources for COVID-19, including for students
  • Committed to include public customer satisfaction scores in their disclosures to the Independent Accountability Panel
  • Sponsored more than 10 #BetterTogether initiatives that saw groups of businesses working together to deliver outcomes for customers such as improving electricity and gas connections, getting concessions to the right people and improving energy literacy for culturally and linguistically diverse communities

The Energy Charter signatories’ disclosure reports have been submitted to the Independent Accountability Panel for review which is chaired by Clare Petre with panellists Cassandra Goldie, CEO Australian Council of Social Service and Andrew Richards, CEO Energy Users Association of Australia.

The Independent Accountability Panel’s period of public consultation will include CEO interviews and online stakeholder forums to be held throughout October, before making their recommendations public in early December 2020. Written submissions about the signatories’ disclosures are invited by the Independent Accountability Panel until 30 October 2020.

To have your say, visit www.theenergycharterpanel.com.au

For media enquiries, please contact:
Sabiene Heindl, E: director@theenergycharter.com M: 0412 039 747

Energy Charter Signatories

Established in January 2019, the Energy Charter is a CEO-led initiative of 19 Australian energy companies. It is the first time that all parts of the energy supply chain have come together and committed to a disclosure framework to help deliver a more affordable, reliable and sustainable energy system for all Australians.

19 signatories: ActewAGL, AGL, APA Group, Aurora Energy, Ausgrid, Australian Gas Infrastructure Group, Clean Co, 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.

The Independent Accountability Panel

The Independent Accountability Panel is made up of:

  • Clare Petre (Chair), former Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW
  • Cassandra Goldie, CEO Australian Council of Social Service
  • Andrew Richards, CEO Energy Users Association of Australia

For more information visit: www.theenergycharterpanel.com.au


#BetterTogether – Energy Charter Maturity Model helps to guide our way to better customer outcomes

Energy Charter signatories are at different stages of maturity in relation to the Energy Charter Principles, a Maturity Model has been designed to help signatories self-assess their current maturity and drive better customer outcomes.

“The Maturity Model is an innovative framework based around the Energy Charter principles that enables signatories to understand the status of current capability and set a direction for progress. It’s not about ticking boxes but focuses on the long term and what we need to do to build pathways and capability to deliver better outcomes for customers. The model is designed to help us have a conversation and an honest assessment of self. Signatories can apply it in their own way and we will continue to tweak and add comparable measures and metrics over time.”  – Nicky Burns, General Manager Risk, Compliance & Insurance, APA Group

Nicky Burns, General Manager Risk, Compliance & Insurance at APA Group was instrumental in the co-design and development of the Energy Charter Maturity Model earlier this year. Nicky explained that by understanding that each signatory has different capabilities and priorities she applied her experience of risk maturity models to create articulated criterion aligned to the Energy Charter principles. This enabled a constructive comparison of capability and performance over time by individual businesses. 

“It’s not a compliance tool, but a resource to encourage continuous development over time within a business to better customer outcomes” Nicky said.

The Maturity Model outlines five classifications of maturity from elementary, emerging, evolved, empowered to exceeding. Elementary is where there’s no formal approach to the majority of the Principles in Action under the Energy Charter Principle. Exceeding is achieving optimal customer outcomes through greater capabilities. Underlying design principles such as ‘insightful, collaborative and flexible’ also helped to guide the development of the Maturity Model.

Nicky explained that a Maturity Model designed in this way has never been done before in Australia. In line with the Energy Charter’s values of “be open, learn and improve” the Maturity Model is innovative, allowing signatories across the energy industry to lift their own capability aligned to a standard model.

This year Energy Charter signatories have used the Maturity Model through their disclosure process to genuinely self-assess their current performance and maturity against delivering for customers. It has helped them to articulate where they intend to progress to, over what period and how to achieve it.

Moving forward, the focus will be on leveraging the Maturity Model for critical conversations within signatories and across the supply chain to focus on authenticity and collectively driving better outcomes for customers and communities to “deliver energy for a better Australia”.

Download your copy of the Energy Charter Maturity Model.

The Energy Charter September News Update

Message from the Chair of the CEO Council, #BetterTogether Communal Content Hub, Robyn Robinson from COTA Queensland, #BetterTogether We’ve Got You Phase Four, Draft National Customer Code for Energy Brokers, Consultants and Retailer and Community and Stakeholder Engagement Read More

#BetterTogether – Customer and stakeholder engagement an important step for Energy Charter disclosures

Customer Advocacy Groups

As Energy Charter signatories prepare their 2019-20 disclosures for the Independent Accountability Panel process, engagement with customer and stakeholder representatives has reiterated the value of different perspectives.

“Our Customer Advocacy Group is not just to inform, it’s about the dialogue and the shared learnings, and we have good connections to their members through their communication channels. The Customer Advocacy Group raise concerns/feedback directly with us or we meet directly with their members to resolve any issues.” Karyn Looby, Stakeholder Engagement Specialist at Essential Energy.

“The AGL Customer Council has been running continuously since 1998 as a way to bring a diversity of customer views into the business. The Council has evolved over time as the needs of the business have changed and we refreshed membership earlier this year to reflect the need to support a broader group of customers, including older Australians and those from culturally and linguistically diverse communities. We engage with members throughout the year, especially when we are grappling with issues and members input can help inform our decision-making.”  Amanda Kennedy, Head of Customer Policy at AGL

Customer and stakeholder councils are a proactive forum for consultation, engagement and insight across a customer base on key consumer matters relating to energy businesses, including the Energy Charter. While representatives vary between signatories, they often consist of people representing their customer or communities.

This year, the majority of Energy Charter signatories have proactively engaged with their customer groups and broader stakeholders, through their disclosure process to leverage the different viewpoints and genuinely assess current performance and maturity against Energy Charter principles.

For Essential Energy, the process has broadened their perspective on their current level of maturity in relation to the Energy Charter Maturity Model and reinforced that they’re only at the beginning of their customer journey. This time last year, engagement with their Customer Advocacy Group (CAG) drove the understanding that the Energy Charter is a living process and the annual Disclosure is a static slice. The CAG reiterated that the Energy Charter will be a success when it’s not used as a mechanism to check off KPIs but creates durability and is responsive to community needs and expectations.

Australian Gas Infrastructure Group (AGIG) also took the important step of engaging with external stakeholders to ensure their self-assessment was both fair and reasonable, and that they were staying focused on customer outcomes. CEO of AGIG, Ben Wilson walked a number of stakeholders through their self-assessment, including representatives from consumer and business groups such as Consumers SA, Council of the Ageing, Multicultural Communities Council of SA as well as energy retailers including Origin, AGL and Energy Australia. AGIG already has an extensive engagement programme established as part of their regulatory processes, so the groups involved were familiar with the energy sector and AGIG’s role within it. Feedback is now being incorporated into their final response to ensure they’re being truly objective and making progress towards real change for customers.

“At Aurora, stakeholder engagement is all about asking community and customer representatives for feedback and input before we make decisions on things that may impact them. It’s about including them in our decision-making processes to create alignment between our performance and the expectations of the community we are a part of.

For this reason, our engagement on our Disclosure is not only about whether our self-assessment aligns with that of our stakeholders. We’re also asking if the areas we’ve highlighted for improvement are the areas they would like see us focus on in the future, and how they would like to see us go about meeting our commitments to the Energy Charter.

Fundamentally, through this process, we’re asking our community and customer representatives to help shape the way forward for our business.” Amy Abraham, Senior Corporate Affairs & Stakeholder Relations Advisor at Aurora Energy

Energy Charter disclosures will be submitted to the Independent Accountability Panel on 30 September. As Energy Charter signatories, we thank those involved across the signatories in the customer councils for their insights and engagement in the preparation of the disclosures. We look to ongoing engagement through the Independent Accountability Panel process.

#BetterTogether – Benjy Lee from Jemena reflects on how far we’ve come as a collective in a year

Amidst all the craziness trying to chart the uncharted challenges of COVID-19 as an Energy Charter collective, I thought it would be useful to take some time to reflect on how far we’ve come in the relatively short life of the Energy Charter. It’s a mere blink of an eye in the history of the energy industry, but incredibly important for the insights and customer focus it’s creating, and especially poignant given that so many of our customers are now facing uncertain and difficult circumstances.

The evolution of the Energy Charter’s #BetterTogether initiatives has been inspired by two memorable moments at the launch of the Energy Charter in January last year (feels like longer, but it’s not).

Firstly, the energising vision and insight from CEOs across the energy supply chain, brought about by sitting together on stage and openly sharing their thoughts on the need for improved collaboration and customer-centricity in the energy sector.

Secondly, equally memorable but more on the daunting side, was the challenge issued by the Powershop CEO (at the time) Ed McManus for the industry to get on with creating some quick wins for customers.

It was this initial impetus and the collaborative efforts by Energy Charter signatories that resulted in getting our #BetterTogether innovation initiatives up and running, to the point that it has now grown into 11+ fantastic initiatives that are driving better customer outcomes, and which have also found a voice as our central mantra, now regularly used to guide and inspire our Energy Charter community conversations – #BetterTogether!

A defining moment was the #BetterTogether workshop we ran in August 2019 using an innovation framework of “ideate, incubate and accelerate”. I’ve got fond memories of a room full of tables with industry and consumer representatives huddled in discussions around how to shape the initiatives that were passionately pitched by collaborator leads earlier in the day.  There was a strong sense that a different kind of collaborative conversation was taking place.  With the insights and encouragement drawn from the workshop, it was then time for all the #BetterTogether collaborators to roll up their sleeves and get to work enlisting people within their various businesses across the supply chain to progress these initiatives.

#BetterTogether has provided a much-needed impetus and the means to learn how to more effectively collaborate across the energy sector – perhaps finally putting back some of the much needed ‘glue’ after valuable industry connections were lost as part of the economic reforms in the 1990s that split the supply chain up to drive efficiencies.

It also takes some time to introduce and connect the right people from different parts of the supply chain – from industry, customer and community representatives, regulatory bodies and other stakeholders – in a way that promotes exchange of ideas and continues to build trust in the approaches taken and by sharing the progress along the way. Often it is not easy and there’s plenty of pressure within the challenges of doing things differently in a way that collectively serves customers in a better way – however this is what true cultural change looks and feels like, sometimes painful but ultimately rewarding!

Unforeseen events and fresh priorities have also emerged to challenge the energy sector, such as the catastrophic bushfires earlier this year, and now the profound uncertainty of COVID-19.  It has been pleasing to see the Energy Charter’s #BetterTogether initiatives use a focus on innovation to engage with these challenges and bring forward responses.

With 11+ fantastic #BetterTogether initiatives underway, it’s also been great to see such a diverse range of efforts and outcomes being delivered.  These include the coordinated “We’ve Got You” campaign, in 10 different languages, to help more energy customers facing difficult circumstances access the support they need, and the 24/7 connection initiative, which is allowing some electricity customers to connect their power faster, for the first time outside normal business hours using smart meter functionality in Victoria.

What started as a call to action to get on and be #BetterTogether in 2019 has quickly developed into a collaborative platform for driving customer-focused outcomes – around 150 people from the Energy Charter signatory businesses are directly participating in #BetterTogether initiatives, with many more working behind the scenes to deliver the work.

As with any innovation pipeline not every idea will succeed, however a healthy ecosystem for testing and turning ideas into customer focused action and outcomes has definitely been created, which can only serve our customers and the energy sector well for the future.

Congratulations to everyone who has thrown their efforts and energy into building the #BetterTogether innovation platform into what it is today – from the CEO to those in the operational levels of our businesses, along with our supportive stakeholders.  This is something we can all be proud of.  I’ve really enjoyed the recent Energy Charter social posts that are showcasing some of the #BetterTogether human champions who are working hard every day to deliver collaborative customer outcomes – it’s great to see these leaders in our sector getting thoroughly deserved recognition for their industry leading work.

Visit #BetterTogether to learn more. 

The Energy Charter August News Update

Message from the Chair of the CEO Council,  Jemena and Deliotte COVID-19 Research Findings, Wendy Miller from QCOSS, We’ve got you, #Know Your Customers and Communities Shared Learning Platform and Powerlink’s Customer Panel Read More