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Four shortlisted contenders for the industry’s 2020 Consumer Engagement Award have been announced, with each of the networks demonstrating strong customer-centric practises.

The Shortlisted organisations are Australian Gas Infrastructure Group, AusNet Services, Evoenergy, and Jemena Electricity Network.

Energy Consumers Australia Interim CEO, Lynne Gallagher, said the 2020 entries showed networks were taking steps on a range of engagement activities, demonstrating the maturing of consumer engagement within many businesses.

“We are seeing an uplift and commitment to working directly with customers by many network businesses, exploring new ways to deepen engagement and collaboration with consumers in the face of new challenges such as COVID-19 and extreme weather events,” Ms Gallagher said.

“The award shines a light on best practice engagement activities across the energy network sector and we hope many of these good practices become common practice by sharing knowledge across the sector.”

Energy Networks Australia CEO, Andrew Dillon, said the consistently high standard of entries to this year’s awards showed continual improvement by networks in their engagement practices.

“It is encouraging to see how every year networks are stepping up with new projects and engagement to deliver improved services and benefits to customers,” Mr Dillon said.

The winner will be announced in October. 

All 15 nominations will be published in a report to celebrate the consumer engagement work being done by energy networks across the nation. The reports from 2019 nominees can be accessed in the Consumer Engagement report.

Shortlisted networks’ submission summaries

Australian Gas Infrastructure Group – Customers at the Centre of our planning

Australian Gas Infrastructure Group (AGIG) set out to embed a genuine customer focus into all aspects of its future planning for its South Australian gas distribution network. The program was based on genuine and effective engagement, with a focus on empowering its staff to deliver the best outcomes to its customers. AGIG also set a clear objective of developing a Final Plan in SA (2021-2025) which delivers for current and future customers, is underpinned by effective stakeholder engagement and is capable of being accepted by its customers and stakeholders.

 

AGIG CEO discussing public safety with customers in Adelaide

Australian Gas Infrastructure Group – Partnering with Communities on the Future of Gas

AGIG said its customers said they expect gas infrastructure to play a role in the decarbonised future. AGIG takes ownership of the responsibility to pursue projects such as Hydrogen Park South Australia to deliver lowest cost decarbonisation, whilst retaining safe and reliable energy supply. Once online in late Spring-2020, Hydrogen Park South Australia will be the first time renewable hydrogen is blended with natural gas for supply to customers. AGIG recognise community trust is key to the future success of Hydrogen Park South Australia and the industry more generally, and that trust can only be built through genuine, dedicated and responsive engagement that values community interests.

AusNet Services – Customer Forum: A Trial of the ‘New Reg’ Process

In 2018 AusNet Services had an opportunity to undertake a trial of the NewReg process, developed by the Australian Energy Regulator (AER), Energy Consumers Australia and ENA. The NewReg vision is that energy consumers’ priorities will drive regulatory outcomes. AusNet established an independent Customer Forum to represent the perspectives of our customers in negotiating and agreeing price and service offerings, supported by the AER. The Forum met with many AusNet staff over the two years, to gain detailed information on the business, its customers and plans. The Forum also met many of its customers independently. Agreed outcomes were incorporated in AusNet’s 2022-26 Revenue Proposal.

Evoenergy – Citizens’ Jury

Evoenergy owns and operates the gas distribution network in the ACT and surrounding areas. Within its Gas Network 2021–26 (GN21) regulatory review consumer engagement program, Evoenergy sought to understand consumer needs and expectations amid an uncertain future for the distribution of natural gas. Against the backdrop of the ACT Government’s globally ambitious 2045 zero net greenhouse gas emission target, Evoenergy braved unchartered territory, building upon previous consumer engagement approaches to undertake one of the most deliberative initiatives in the engagement toolkit — a Citizens’ Jury. This process established a new consumer engagement benchmark for Evoenergy, providing meaningful, relevant community feedback.

 

Jemena Electricity Network – COVID community response

The diversity of Jemena Electricity Network’s customer base of 350,000+ households and businesses in Melbourne’s north-west presented a unique challenge in how to respond to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only did Jemena need to maintain an essential service but also needed to support people within our culturally diverse communities. COVID-19 redefined vulnerability for energy consumers and against rapidly evolving external circumstances and timeframes, Jemena identified key customer and community challenges using a consultative, evidence-based approach. Understanding these challenges, Jemena led a dynamic program of solutions delivered in collaboration with industry and community known as “COVID-19 Community Response”.

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