The Energy Charter May News Update

Message from the Chair of the CEO Council – Frank Tudor MD at Jemena, Energy Charter call for new signatories, Customer Voice – Ash Salardini National Farmers’ Federation, COVID-19 Support and Communal Content Hub featured resource Read More

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

During an industry forum in late 2019, Essential Energy shared outcomes of their ‘Knock before you disconnect’ trial that involved field crews delivering letters to customers advising them to contact their retailer regarding outstanding payments. 80% of disconnections were cancelled and customers stayed connected. ‘Knock before you disconnect’ is now being trialled on AGIG’s Multinet Gas Networks (MGN) distribution network with retailers Alinta Energy, EnergyAustralia and Powershop as a #BetterTogether initiative of the Energy Charter.

Essential Energy’s Head of Customer Experience, Belinda Kallmier explains “Following our successful trial last year, when we receive a request to disconnect a customer due to non-payment by a retailer, we consistently attempt to hand-deliver a Notice of Intent to Disconnect directly to customers.  This visit encourages the customer to quickly get in touch with their retailer to discuss their options to avoid the disconnection which is a better outcome for all our customers. Our contract partner who deliver the letters has also said this is a better experience.”

In December 2020, the #BetterTogether ‘Knock before you disconnect’ trial with Energy Charter signatories Australian Gas Infrastructure Group (AGIG) , EnergyAustralia, Powershop and participating partner Alinta Energy commenced. AGIG fieldwork staff began contacting customers within their MGN distribution area in Victoria, via letterbox drops, reminding them to contact their retailer regarding outstanding payments.

“After learning about ‘Knock before you disconnect’ from Essential Energy, it was quickly identified that the benefits aligned with the AGIG vision and values of delivering to customers, and was an initiative that we wanted to adopt to service our customers rather than leaving them without gas supply.” – Chris Fidler, Head of Customer & Market Services at Multinet Gas Networks

In the first three months, the number of disconnection service orders received from trial participants (191 service orders received from January to March 2021) have been historically lower as a result of industry restrictions on raising disconnection orders. Participating partners are also currently working together to assess the number of customers ‘engaging’ with retailers following contact and letterbox drop by Multinet Gas Network.

The early stage of the trial identified some challenges experienced by Multinet Gas Network. Field crews found some customers had not received a bill addressed to them, but to the previous occupant, and therefore were not opened. There were also business sites vacated due to business closure, making engagement through letterbox drop unlikely.

Key learnings such as these are being shared with other Energy Charter signatories who are running similar trials, or considering commencing trials, within their distribution areas including Endeavour Energy, Essential Energy & Australian Gas Networks.

Multinet Gas Network aims to continue the current trial with Alinta Energy, EnergyAustralia and Powershop, with a focus on capturing ongoing performance data to measure success rates and apply learnings and outcomes for future improvements. 

A six-month Energy Charter milestone report will also identify further opportunities to extend the trial and engage additional retailers for process improvement feedback and participation as the current trial size is only relatively small compared to the volume of disconnection orders received across the Multinet Network area.

“The Knock before you Disconnect #BetterTogether initiative is a great example of signatories leveraging the infrastructure of Energy Charter to sharing learnings and collaborate across the supply change to achieve better outcomes for customers.”  – Sabiene Heindl, Executive Director, The Energy Charter

The Energy Charter April News Update

Message from the Chair of the CEO Council – Frank Tudor MD at Jemena, Q1 Customer Vulnerability Research CEO Insights Report, Customer Voice – Janine Young at EWON, National Customer Code Rocket Launch presentation, Communal Content Hub featured resource Read More

#BetterTogether – As times get tougher, Energy Charter retailers offer extra support to vulnerable customers

With the Federal Government’s JobKeeper coming to a close, many Australians are set to experience tougher times ahead due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. And at this critical time, Energy Charter retailers are offering extra support to assure customers that help is still available, putting Energy Charter commitments into action.

A number of Energy Charter retailers are continuing to offer support to their customers and communities impacted by COVID-19.

Aurora Energy, Tasmania’s largest energy retailer, is trialling a new payment support program as part of a broader “We can help” campaign to incentivise engagement with Aurora’s Your Energy Support (YES) hardship program. The YES program helps customers to get on top of their bills when they need it most, offering affordable payment plans, energy efficiency advice and protection from disconnection.

From March 2021, customers on Aurora’s YES program, who are meeting their payment commitments at their quarterly review, will now receive a credit to the value of their next instalment (up to $200). Effectively, Aurora will make one payment on the customer’s behalf each quarter for the next six months to help them get back on track.  

“We recognise that there are still challenging times ahead for homes and businesses in Tasmania due to the pandemic, and we’re committed to doing what we can to assist,” Chief Operating Officer, Kane Ingham said.

The extra support is being promoted alongside existing initiatives, including Aurora’s $5M COVID-19 Customer Support Fund with the key message being, “We can help”.

“The new payment support program is designed to help those customers who need it the most. It’s also a reminder to those who haven’t been in contact with us that support is available – all you need to do is ask,” Mr Ingham said.

This is how an agile business response puts the Energy Charter principles directly into effect for better outcomes for customers. To find out more about extra support available, please visit your energy retailer’s website.

#BetterTogether – COVID-19 Customer Vulnerability Insights – Wave 2, Q1, 2021

Supported by Energy Charter signatories Jemena, ActewAGL, Energy Queensland, Essential Energy and Powershop, together with Simply Energy, we are excited to share the Report and Placemat for the Wave 2, COVID-19 Consumer Vulnerability Research – Quarter 1, March 2021.

This research was conducted by Deloitte 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 February 11th to February 21st 2021. It relevantly found:

  • 36% of people are optimistic about Australia’s economic direction
  • 50% of people agreed that COVID-19 had increased their stress levels
  • 41% of people on JobSeeker reported that financial stress keeps them up at night
  • 36% of people indicated that they are spending more on energy bills over the last 3 months
  • A range of survey responses are trending positively (when compared to Wave 1), pointing to signs of recovery
  • The pandemic has increased stress levels for many, and significant concern about the lasting impacts of COVID-19 will see that trend likely continue
  • The impacts of COVID-19 are being felt more significantly by vulnerable groups. But it is JobSeekers who are falling further into hardship
  • There is an upward trend in both those receiving and potentially needing support, in response to the increase in energy bills and the balancing of household spend

The snapshot Placemat and full Report are now available on Energy Charter website.

The Energy Charter March News Update

Message from the Incoming Chair of the CEO Council, Frank Tudor MD at Jemena, Q1 Customer Vulnerability Research CEO Insights Panel, Wendy Miller at QCOSS, National Customer Code Rocket Launch, #BetterTogether Better Landowner Engagement and Better Practice Customer Engagement Toolkit Read More

#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.