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Newsletter: May 2023


Energy Consumers Australia

From the CEO

One of my last tasks before I leave is to reflect on my time at Energy Consumers Australia in this newsletter.

It has been an amazing journey for me since 2015, to first develop and lead the research program, support the alignment of the Grants Program with our strategic priorities, and then in the last three years to lead the organisation as Chief Executive Officer.

Energy Consumers Australia is required by Energy Ministers to be evidence-driven in all our work. In the past eight years we have invested over $1.5 million into our Energy Consumer Sentiment Survey and Energy Consumer Behaviour Survey, developing the most extensive set of energy consumer research in Australia. On top of this ongoing consumer survey work, Energy Consumers Australia has produced extensive consumer attitudinal and behaviour research including:

  • the Powershift project – an over $1.8m body of research providing evidence on how to design targeted, effective, and innovative energy management services and programs that will enhance the ability of consumers to manage their energy usage and costs;
  • partnering with Monash University, AusNet Services, and Ausgrid on the Digital Energy Futures project, an Australian Research Council Linkage project which had a total budget of $2.3m over 3 years;
  • the Future Energy Vision research project that explored what households and small businesses value, expect and need from the future energy system; and
  • the Community attitudes to solar and AEMC proposed reforms which aimed to create a clear, credible and independent evidence base, for attitudes to the access and pricing reforms.

The thread that links all this consumer research is an unwavering commitment to ensuring we mitigate against confirmation bias. To this end, we have been open about our methodology, often bringing others into the process as partners, and we publish the surveys and the raw results from our regular surveys.

We are supporting the next generation of researchers, supporting three PhD students – one at Western Sydney University in the field of consumer energy resources, and two at Monash University as part of the Next Generation Artificial Intelligence Graduate Program, with a focus on clean energy and sustainability. 

Energy Consumers Australia thinks of its Grants Program as backing bright ideas, to support better outcomes for households and small businesses in the energy system. We receive anywhere between 40-60 grant applications a year, and there would only be a handful that I have not been part of assessing and steering through the Board for a decision, in my time at Energy Consumers Australia. Over the past eight years, we have provided $18 million in funding through our Grants Program to support advocacy and research by other organisations, ranging from engagement in national issues to grassroots and local issues. It is now inbuilt as part of our communications strategy that the work done under our Grants Program is shared and amplified, to increase its impact and inspire other organisations.

In recent years, we have embedded partnerships and collaborations in the Grants Program. This means that Energy Consumers Australia can leverage our funding as part of a coalition for change and contribute our own time and resources as the reform agenda is an integral part of our work program. The first collaboration grant was with Renew in 2020-21, to develop a robust evidence base on consumer (and landlords) needs and preferences in relation to energy performance standards, which are a critical element of the energy transition. We were pleased that this research was launched by Senator Jenny McAllister, the Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy, who has long track record in enabling consumer- led demand side action.  

Since then, we have funded three more collaboration grants.

We will shortly be releasing Energy Consumers Australia’s 2023-24 Workplan, which provides details of our strategic priorities and activities for the coming 12-18 months. This could result in further collaboration and partnerships, including funding through the Grants Program.

Stepping into the Chief Executive Officer role in March 2020 was both an opportunity and a challenge. It was an opportunity to take the sum of all my experiences gained during Energy Consumers Australia’s start-up phase, and to sharpen the vision and mature the capabilities of the organisation. The challenge was nothing that my working life had prepared me, or any leader, for. The difficulties of sustaining business continuity and team wellbeing during a pandemic, whose impacts on people’s health could not be anticipated and where the duration was uncertain, cannot be understated.

There are five pillars on which the impact of Energy Consumers Australia has successfully been sustainably expanded under my leadership.

First, we embedded a human centred design, systems thinking approach to our role in the transformation of the energy system, from one that is carbon based at large scale, to a system that relies on renewable energy and storage and is more local. What is often overlooked is that people are at the heart of every complex human designed system, and this is true of Australia’s 11 million households and 2.4 million small businesses that are served by the energy system.

Charles Leadbetter, of the System Innovation Initiative has observed, that people who shift systems help to provide a new coherence. That is what we aimed to achieve in our first three year Strategic Plan that was released in August 2021. Together, with input from our Board, our Staff, and our Executive, we set out a strategy that explained why and how we would act to advance the interests of Australian household and small business energy consumers. The new vision that was supported by the strategy was that “consumer values, expectations and needs are realised through a modern, flexible and resilient energy system”.

We have developed a coherent narrative about a plausible and desirable future end-state of the energy transformation. In my speech to the 3rd State of Energy Research Conference in January 2023, I talked about that better future for consumers, and that without a plan to achieve it, we would be most likely to fail consumers. The foundations of our policy and reform agenda support that better future energy system: one that is least cost, and with affordable energy bills for households and small businesses. In that better future, energy insecurity and inequity will be addressed in a structural and substantive way. In a renewable energy system, reshaping demand means consumers changing some long-established social practices, building new norms for using electricity when it is abundant, and at times being adaptive and responsive to match a fluctuating electricity supply. And it also means new knowledge and practices that will be built up around using electricity instead of gas appliances in our homes and our means of transport.

The scale and pace of change required in the energy transformation means there is often insufficient attention given to engaging with consumers about what it means for them in the context of their lives and livelihoods. We have acted to support and promote consumers’ agency in their journey to 2050 in a range of ways. This includes how we participate in broadcast and social media, to explain events, as well as developing advice and information materials. There is more work to be done across the energy system, in ensuring consumers can access trusted, and independent information on which they can rely to navigate the changes they can make.

The final pillar, and also the most important, was investing in our people, their leadership and well-being and the culture of our organisation. I am proud that we now have an inter-disciplinary team, that is multi-generational, and that values collaboration. Their infectious enthusiasm lightens the load. 

My last words are to personally thank all of the members of my Board (past and present) for their consistent and authentic support, and each and every one of Energy Consumers Australia’s team over the years from whom I have continued to learn. I have also been blessed with many teachers, who have been both colleagues and become friends. My thanks to all of you, as my journey in the energy system takes me on a new path.

Lynne Gallagher
Chief Executive Officer

Farewell Lynne

Lynne Gallagher’s final day with Energy Consumers Australia is 2 June. Lynne will be commencing a new role as a Board Member with the Australian Energy Regulator. 

Jacqueline Crawshaw has been appointed the Interim CEO as the Board runs a process to appoint a new CEO. Melissa McAuliffe has stepped up into Jacqueline’s role as the Acting Director of Energy Services and Markets.  

Lynne has made a tremendous impact during her time here and has helped build the organisation from the ground up. She leaves behind a strong legacy and has reframed the way that many leaders, policy makers, industry members, and advocates think about energy consumers and their place in the market. 

We wish Lynne all the best in her new role at the AER. Our Board and staff recently reflected on what we’ll miss about Lynne and her impact during her time at ECA.  

Join our Team

Are you our next CEO?

We are searching for our next CEO to lead ECA and increase the impact and influence of our work.

This is a job for a highly experienced policy thinker and thought leader, with a track record of influencing and shaping policy direction, innovation and implementation, with a deep understanding of the machinery of government and national energy market. 

Wanted: Senior Policy Associates

Do you want to make a difference for energy consumers?

We are looking for two Senior Policy Associates to join our team.

These roles advance our policy work by developing and delivering policy projects that provide tangible benefits to households and small business, and advocate for consumers’ interests in policy and regulatory decisions.

Projects with Purpose

Want to hear more about what it’s like to work at ECA? Hear directly from some of our team members as they reflect on some of their most memorable and high impact projects while at ECA.

Federal Budget

In the Media

The Federal Budget was a significant step forward for energy policy in Australia, providing materially better energy cost outcomes for households and small businesses. It balanced easing short term cost-of-living pressures, while investing to address long-term energy affordability challenges.   

We also provided commentary to a range of outlets including ABC News, SBS, Energy Magazine, and Otago Daily Times.  

bECAuse Blog

We’ve done a deep dive into the budget and analysed the energy policies that relate to households and small businesses. The transformational measures that address energy efficiency and set millions of Australian households on a better trajectory are particularly noteworthy. 

From the Grants Team

Case Study: University of Queensland

Have you ever wondered what happens to solar panels once they reach the end of their life? As Australia faces a 450,000 tonne mountain of used solar panels, this is a problem we simply can’t ignore. ECA was proud to fund research by The University of Queensland and Circular PV Alliance into developing a future for used solar panels.  

Case Study: Better Renting

Meet Caitlin. Caitlin is a Canberran who has taken part in the Renter Researcher project along with other renters across Australia, and tracked the temperature in her home. The average temperature in her home last winter was 16C, with temperatures dropping as low as 8C, exacerbating underlying health conditions.  

Using data collected by renters like Caitlin, Better Renting is pushing for minimum energy efficiency standards for rental properties. 

Funding Better Outcomes for Consumers

The Board is pleased to announce $844,122 in funding for four new projects through our Grants Program.  

A big congratulations to the successful applicants: Energetic Communities Association; Australian National University; St Vincent de Paul Society, Victoria; and South Australian Council of Social Service.  


Have you discovered our new podcast Watts Next? Whether you’re an industry veteran or keen to learn more about our energy system, this podcast is for you. 

We’ve recently released episodes two and three where we talk with Matt Finch about how to deal with uncertainty as we navigate the energy transition, and Paul de Martini about how to successfully plan for the transition. 

What Consumers Want

Recently, Caroline Valente, one of our Senior Policy Associates, presented to The Australian Power Institute’s Summer School on what consumers tell us they want from the energy transition

Her presentation included a range of insights that will transform your thinking and enable you to be more consumer focused when considering the energy transition. 


All Victorian households and many small businesses will have to transition away from fossil fuel gas as our energy system moves to a low emissions future. Consumers that want to stop using gas at their home or business should have clarity about exactly what gas retailers and networks will do when they stop service.   

We recently put forward a submission to the Essential Services Commission advocating for the need to progress a plan for a fair and safe transition away from gas and the importance of clearly communicating with consumers. 

Energy and Climate Change Ministerial Council

Last week we travelled to Mparntwe (Alice Springs) to meet with Energy and Climate Change Ministers. We welcome the progress that came out of the meeting to support householders and small business owners with rising energy costs.

April Board Communique

The Board met in April to assess a range of funding applications made to the Energy Consumers Australia Grants Program from advocacy and research organisations. 

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