ENA AWARDS DINNER: ROSEMARY SINCLAIR REMARKS
SYDNEY, 29 NOVEMBER 2017
Thank you Andrew for the kind introduction.
I want to thank my fellow panel members for their time and bringing their deep expertise to the task of designing this award, evaluating the entries, and adding a real credibility and cache to a new award.
- Gavin Dufty, St Vincent Paul
- Craig Memery, PIAC
- Robyn Robinson, COTA
- Mark Henley, Uniting Care
- Paula Conboy, AER
And I want to thank Nino, Andrew and the team at Energy Networks Australia in particular Emma Watts for supporting the award and for the open and productive approach you take in your own engagement.
ENAs work on energy market transformation, through the Energy Network Transformation Roadmap, and the Gas Vision 2050, was first class and I see the engagement practices were discussing tonight as a way of translating those insights into better outcomes for households and small businesses.
And I also want to acknowledge Dr Alan Finkel for the incredible contribution he has made to energy policy in this country and the national innovation agenda.
The award in context
The Consumer Engagement Award is of course a new award and I want to place it and customer engagement, in context.
Our view is that engagement real engagement is critical for the successful transformation of the grid and the energy sector.
At a time when were grappling with affordability and security, when were trying to make decisions when technology seems to be changing on an almost daily basis, one of the few certainties we can hold onto is that the businesses that will thrive are those who are open, those who listen and respond to their customers.
Customer engagement isnt fundamentally about process, its a philosophy and an outlook that is about keeping up and adapting in a new and very different operating environment by aligning your business strategy with the interests, preferences and needs of your customers.
Its about making the transition from the old infrastructure and assets mindset to a platform and services mindset.
And this stands in contrast to approaches will seek to find answers to, or even hide from, these profound questions and issues in complicated regulatory processes which cannot support the kind of open, innovative and creative thinking we need to move forward together.
We are heartened that in various places we are seeing network businesses making a break from the old ambit claim, adversarial approach and embracing collaboration and authenticity.
We see signs of it in the NSW OPEX Remittal process.
We see it in the Trialogue process we are embarked upon with the AER and the ENA to develop an alternative fast-track regulatory process.
And we see it in the entries to this new award.
In similar and different ways, the businesses that nominated for the Energy Consumers Australia Customer Engagement Award
have demonstrated that they are working to understand and re-orientate around this big picture context, and are designing, building, testing and refining new ways to open-up and maintain a dialogue with their customers about the outcomes they are looking forand then working hard to deliver them.
This award is about publicly recognising these businesses, and the individual champions within them, for their effort and commitment, and encouraging them to continue to push the boundaries of consumer engagement practice.
The shortlist businesses:
Australian Gas Networks
South Australian Power Networks
These shortlisted nominees demonstrated a number of common elements:
- Board and senior executive commitment to engage with consumers for a purpose.and a plan to do so. There is commitment and there is method.
- Engaging early to identify preferences and needs and frame the task over the next regulatory period, not just to gain support for decisions already made.
- Transparency and evidence that feedback was acted on and shaped outcomes.
- A willingness to take a risk and try something different, to look beyond the traditional regulatory construct.
- These elements differentiate these projects from traditional consultation and corporate social responsibility techniques and approaches that infrastructure businesses tend to reach for in the early stages of the transformation to more dynamic, customer orientated businesses.
We have two awards to make tonight.
Our first recipient
One of the entries emerged as the best of a strong set of applications.
A network that had a clear, structured system of engagement according to a set common sense principles.
It was strongly supported by stakeholders and the AER.
It hosted hot-tub style workshops on technical issues where experts, consumer reps and others could unpack the issues together.
And there was a transparent link made from the consumer feedback to the networks decisions and proposals.
And the dialogue and good will generated through the process allowed the network and its customers and stakeholders to deal with the unexpected.
That network was ElectraNet congratulations for leading the industry in this area and can I call you up to the stage to accept the very well deserved Consumer Engagement Award!
Our second recipient
I am very pleased to say that one of the nominations took us by surprise.
What became apparent in the assessment process was that some networks are starting to engage with the community to transform the energy system.
Applying good practice to work on new community projects and opportunities.
There were a number of outstanding applicants, however on this occasion, the recipient of the Engagement Innovator Award is Mondo Power with AusNet Services and Totally Renewable Yackandandah and their collaboration to power Yackandandah with 100 per cent renewable energy by 2020.
The media release Energy Consumers Australia issued about the awards can be found here.