#BetterTogether – Improving engagement with regional landowners for shared outcomes

In late 2020, angst among Australian farmers and rural communities was growing. They felt that the policy and planning process for large-scale electricity infrastructure left landowners and regional communities out of the conversation, and that engagement came too late for any real say in how the infrastructure could be delivered.

The National Farmers Federation approached the Energy Charter to see whether there was an opportunity to work together with industry to deliver better outcomes for farmers and rural communities.

There was a recognised opportunity to improve engagement between energy businesses, landowners and others regarding asset development, particularly in light of AEMO’s Integrated System Plan (ISP) and ongoing development of renewable assets in agricultural land areas across Australia.

The #BetterTogether Better Landowner Engagement initiative was launched in early 2021. Co-collaborators include Powerlink Queensland, TransGrid, APA together with the National Farmers Federation, NSW Farmers Association, Queensland Farmers’ Federation, Victorian Farmers Federation, AG Force Qld, the Clean Energy Council, Energy Networks Australia and AEMO.

Using the #BetterTogether innovation framework of ideate, incubate and accelerate, we are working together through a series of co-design workshops to highlight pain points and design guidelines and better practice models on engagement between transmission businesses and landowners. We are also exploring early engagement in the ISP and related transmission issues for landowners. The agriculture industry would also like to see good practice guidelines for how to discuss compensation for landowners.

Ash Salardini of National Farmers Federation said, “Getting the agriculture industry, the energy industry and regulators around the same table was a very positive step in addressing the challenge around effective engagement.”

The #BetterTogether initiative is currently co-designing a Better Practice Framework for Landowner and Community Engagement. In addition, Energy Networks Australia has recently produced information on the role of transmission in the delivery of electricity to our communities.

#BetterTogether – Collaborating for better customer engagement

Energy Charter signatories have collaborated to develop a ‘Better Practice Customer Engagement Toolkit’ to assist businesses to further embrace customer and community needs in their decision making.  

“Businesses within the energy sector are at different levels of maturity when it comes to engaging with customers and communities, so this toolkit helps to support their engagement in the best way.” – Nives Matosin, APA Group

Customer voice is critical for cultural change towards customer-centricity.  When properly structured and applied, authentic customer engagement can provide practical insights into what’s working, what’s expected and what’s important to our customers.  Importantly, this enables energy businesses to remain adaptable and responsive to customer needs and expectations within the continuously changing and transforming market.

The Better Practice Customer Engagement Toolkit offers a framework for putting this into action. It includes:

  • Types and examples of better practice principles that demonstrate ways to be genuine, open and inclusive with different groups of customers and stakeholders as highlighted in the Energy Charter Shared Learning Customer Engagement Platform
  • Key considerations when designing an engagement process including defining a purpose, who to engage, what topic and useful tools such as to the IAP2 Spectrum framework
  • How to encourage better outcomes highlighting the importance of closing the feedback loop and planning future engagement opportunities.

 The Better Practice Customer Engagement Toolkit was developed through the #BetterTogether ‘Know your Customers and Communities’ initiative led by APA and Essential Energy, supported by Endeavour Energy, Energy Queensland, Jemena, Horizon Power, Powerlink Queensland and TransGrid.

“This #BetterTogether initiative enables collaboration within the energy sector towards shaping business culture and decision making based on the voice of the customer. We hope the energy sector finds that this toolkit can be used far and wide to encourage better engagement with Australians.” – Karyn Looby, Essential Energy

New Energy Charter CEO Council Chair 2021

The Energy Charter has today welcomed the Managing Director of Jemena, Frank Tudor, as the new Chair of the CEO Council for 2021.

“During 2020 many energy consumers faced new challenges due to bushfires, floods and COVID-19. I’m honoured to take on the role of the Chair of the CEO Council so that the Energy Charter can continue to push for collaboration right across the industry to ensure better outcomes and support for energy customers during 2021” Mr Tudor said.

The focus of Energy Charter signatories in 2021 is to respond to the recommendations of the Independent Accountability Panel late last year: providing additional support for customers as households and businesses get up and running after the many challenges of last year and coming together to better plan the path to meeting customer and community expectations on net zero by 2050. Organisations are also encouraged to sign up to the Energy Charter to leverage its unique structure that allows companies from across all areas of the energy supply chain to collaborate through #BetterTogether initiatives to support customers.

The Energy Charter acknowledged and thanked outgoing Chair, Australian Gas Infrastructure Group (AGIG) Chief Executive Officer, Ben Wilson, for his strong leadership and outstanding service in 2020.

Background

Frank has held various senior executive roles over the last 30 plus years in the international oil, gas, and power industries. Before joining Jemena as Managing Director in October 2018, Frank worked at Horizon Power, BP and Woodside.

Frank serves on the Council of Australian Governments Energy Security Board Advisory Panel, the Reliable Affordable Clean Energy for 2030 Cooperative Research Centre (RACE for 2030 CRC), the Asia Society Advisory Panel and is a Board member of ActewAGL, Deputy Chair of Energy Networks Australia (and is Chair of its Gas Committee). He is also a member of the Business Council Australia Energy and Climate Change Committee.

Frank holds first class degrees in engineering, economics and business administration from Curtin University (WA), London School of Economics (UK) and AGSM (University of NSW). He has also completed the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School and lectured in oil and gas economics and legal frameworks at the University of Western Australia.

#BetterTogether – COVID-19 Customer Vulnerability Insights – Wave 1, Q4, 2020

Energy Charter signatories Jemena, ActewAGL, Energy Queensland and Powershop, together with Simply Energy, are collaborating #bettertogether with Deloitte to research the impacts of COVID-19 on our customers and communities. 

The research is being conducted in four quarterly rounds over 2020-2021. Insights will be leveraged to better understand customers impacted by COVID-19 and how the energy sector can support them.

Wave 1, Quarter 4 research was conducted to understand the degree of customer vulnerability, as well as customers’ consumption and sentiment towards energy in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic via survey between October 23rd to November 2nd 2020. The national survey across 3,000+ people found:

  • 20% of people have either had their working hours reduced or lost their job due to COVID-19 and 37% of people have experienced a decrease in household income
  • 47% of people stated that 2020 has been a difficult year for them
  • 37% of people indicated that over the last 3 months, energy bills were the household item where their spending had increased the most
  • In the next 3 months, a quarter of people are intending to reduce spending on essential items, and half will take conscious behavioural changes to use energy more efficiently
  • For people who are currently receiving or may need energy bill support, bill discounts and energy tips communicated on a monthly basis via email was the most preferred communication model

The snapshot placemat and full report are now available on Energy Charter website.

Energy sector pledges greater collaboration to support customers

Increased collaboration, greater customer support and an increased signatory base have been identified by the Energy Charter as critical next steps in 2021, following a new report released today.

Made up of 18 energy companies, including generators, distribution and transmission businesses, and retailers, Energy Charter signatories have pledged to work closer together over the next twelve months to do even more to support customers as they recover from the impacts of COVID-19.

Following its annual review of Energy Charter signatory disclosures, the Independent Accountability Panel (IAP) released its second annual report today and encouraged industry to be proactive and collaborative in response to customers in vulnerable circumstances and the energy transition.

Chair of the Energy Charter CEO Council, Ben Wilson said that 2020 had been an extremely challenging year for energy consumers, with bushfires, floods and the global pandemic. The unique structure of the Energy Charter allowed companies from across all areas of the supply chain to collaborate through #BetterTogether initiatives to support customers. This was recognised by the IAP as a credit to signatories on their commitment to supporting customers.

Key achievements over the past 12 months included:

  • Launching a focused awareness campaign “We’ve got you” during COVID-19 to inform customers of the help available to them, translated across 10 languages.
  • All signatories publishing customer satisfaction scores– an industry first.
  • Driving 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.

“We are two years into our journey and there have been definite improvements for energy customers and communities, but we recognise there is more we can do,’ Mr Wilson said.

“The Independent Accountability Panel’s message is clear. We need to do more to support customers as households and businesses get up and running after the many challenges this year. We need to come together to better plan the path to meeting customer and community expectations on net zero by 2050.”

“We thank the Independent Accountability Panel for their report and recommendations. The Energy Charter signatories will continue to collaborate across industry and with customer advocates to deliver on these recommendations over the next twelve months to benefit customers.”

”With this feedback and the momentum we have established, we also look forward to increasing our signatory base by encouraging all energy businesses to join, as well as reach out to wider industry-related organisations and influencers, to ensure we capture a broader range of voices and customer groups.” 

During its review, the Independent Accountability Panel analysed the disclosure reports submitted by Energy Charter signatories, interviewed CEOs and held stakeholder and public forums. Led by Clare Petre as Chair, the IAP includes Cassandra Goldie, CEO Australian Council of Social Service and Andrew Richards, CEO Energy Users Association of Australia.

The 2020 Independent Accountability Panel Report is available for download via IAP website

Energy Charter Signatories

Established in January 2019, the Energy Charter is a CEO-led initiative of 18 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.

Signatories: ActewAGL, 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, Powerlink Queensland, Stanwell and TransGrid. AGL is a signatory until the end of 2020.

The Independent Accountability Panel

The Independent Accountability Panel is made up of:

  • Clare Petre (Chair) is a former Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW and a board director at Energy Consumers Australia. Her current roles include National Australia Bank (NAB) Customer Advocate, Chair of the Code of Conduct Committee for the Australian Council for International Development, Chair of the New Energy Tech Consumer Code and Board member of the Asylum Seekers Centre.
  • Cassandra Goldie, CEO Australian Council of Social Service
  • Andrew Richards, CEO Energy Users Association of Australia

For more information visit: theenergycharterpanel.com.au

#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

#BetterTogether

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