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Newsletter: September 2023


Energy Consumers Australia

From the Interim CEO

For a long time, the debate about the energy transition centred on whether it needed to happen at all. With the adoption of Australia’s net zero targets, debate has now shifted to how this should occur.  

To date, much of the focus has been on growing the supply side to ensure we have sufficient renewable energy resources and transmission – just this month we’ve seen billions of dollars in funding announced for additional transmission lines for WA and NSW. We think the same amount of attention should be given to bolstering demand side solutions. 

Demand side solutions are not something we can just crowbar in. They will require us to bring consumers along on the journey as we’ll be asking a lot of them. After all, there is no system without consumers. Reshaping demand means consumers will need to change some long-established habits, build new norms for using electricity when it is abundant, and at times be adaptive and responsive to match a fluctuating electricity supply.  

A cornerstone of this change is the role that Consumer Energy Resources (CER) can and should play. (If you’re not familiar with this term, it’s what we like to call Distributed Energy Resources. Find out more about why we prefer to say CER here.) If we get this right, CER can benefit the collective system by making it more resilient and flexible, while also benefitting their owners. Similarly, future supply and demand can be more evenly matched, helping to keep costs down for everybody. 

Already we’re seeing an explosion of CER and the Integrated System Plan (ISP) assumes this growth trajectory will continue, predicting a more than thirteen-fold increase in the installation of “coordinated DER storage” between now and 2030. CER can bring low-cost capacity to the system without the challenges and likely delays of large-scale resources dependent on new transmission infrastructure. However, there is currently little policy to support this to date. And even less support to consider appropriate integration of CER into the market. 

As more CER come online, industry is asking questions about how to best integrate them efficiently to deliver a reliable and secure system. However, it’s also important to remember that CER are consumer-owned assets that households and small businesses have invested in. It is key that we ensure consumers retain agency in how they wish to use their assets, and can access the full value and benefits of their investments, tailored to their needs and preferences.  

What we know from our ongoing research program into consumer requirements for the energy system is that any options for managing CER will need to be ‘least cost’ and ‘least complexity’. ‘Least complexity’ means helping untangle the system, incentives, red tape, and actions we’re asking consumers to undertake. This is backed up by a recent report we released that found that an overload of dense information about energy issues is causing consumers to switch off.  

Given the inherent human element involved in demand side management, there are complexities ahead. But the benefits for consumers are worth it. 

Jacqueline Crawshaw
Interim Chief Executive Officer

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Webinar Series

Energy system planning is fundamental to building consumer trust on the net-zero journey, regaining consumer confidence in the sector, and in delivering a least-cost, least-risk transition. The Commonwealth is currently reviewing Australia’s energy system planning processes. We want to expand current thinking about what energy system planning can and should achieve so we’re bringing together global experts with Australian policymakers and practitioners to present new ideas.  

For more information about each webinar, and to register for the session, click on the links below. Please note, you must register for each webinar separately to attend.

From the Grants Team

Gill Owen Scholarship

Are you passionate about improving outcomes for Australian energy consumers? Do you need support to travel overseas to conduct innovative research that will benefit them? 
The Gill Owen Scholarship is now open. You will have the chance to engage with leading thinkers in other countries and apply new insights gained to challenges faced by energy consumers in Australia. 

Past recipients have travelled to Europe to better understand how we can improve our energy regulatory frameworks to become more consumer-centric, and to the US to explore approaches to managing the energy transition. 

Grants Case Study: Better Renting

Last week, Better Renting released their “Power Struggles” report which found that during winter, many Australian homes are even colder inside than out. The report is a stark reminder of the need for improved energy efficiency standards for households and the impact that rising energy bills can have on consumers. 

This report uses data collected through Better Renting’s “Renter Researchers” initiative which empowers everyday renters to become researchers in their own homes by recording and documenting the temperatures and living conditions. We’ve been proud to support this program through our Grants Program for the last four studies.  

bECAuse Blog

Recently we attended the Energy Transition Summit in Sydney to listen to new perspectives and learn from people across the energy sector as they discussed possible pathways for the energy transition. We applied a consumer lens to the summit to better understand how to deliver a smoother transition for households and small businesses in our latest bECAuse blog.


In our final episode of the season of Watts Next? we chat to Ross de Rango from the Electric Vehicle Council to learn more about the potential of EVs for consumers, the barriers that stand in the way of broader EV uptake, and how to overcome them.  

If you’re new to the podcast, why not catch up on earlier episodes as well? We’ve covered topics from getting off gas, to energy efficiency, building trust with consumers, and more.  

Save the Date: Foresighting Forum 2024

The Foresighting Forum is an event not to be missed. It brings together leaders, decision makers and thinkers from across and beyond the energy sector to consider how we can centre consumers at the heart of our energy system. As part of the event, participants will both learn and be involved in designing solutions to embed the needs, values, and wants of consumers in the system.  

The event will be held on 14-15 February 2024 at the UTS Aerial Centre, Sydney. Registration will open in October.  


A clear focus of our submissions over the past month has been the role and opportunities of Consumer Energy Resources in the system. We have made submissions to: 

  • The AEMC on integrating price responsive resources into the NEM. Read more here.
  • The AEMC on unlocking Consumer Energy Resources benefits through flexible trading. Read more here.
  • DCCEEW on the Capacity Investment Scheme consultation paper. Read more here.

August Communique

The Board met in August in Sydney and had the opportunity to hear from three grant recipients about their projects and how their work is supporting change that benefits consumers.

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