Talking Electricity: Key Topics and Customer Engagement

Latest customer engagement documents

United Energy – Forethought Customer Engagement Stage two – 2020

United Energy – Forethought Customer Engagement Stage three – 2020

United Energy – Forethought Customer Engagement Stage four – 2020

United Energy – Customer Service Incentive Scheme Proposal – 2020

An Affordable Network

Affordability is at the top of the priority list for everyone. For us, it’s important to ensure our investment priorities strike the right balance between safety, reliability, growth and affordability.

There are many factors to consider in price resets, such as prudent expenditure, rate of return, depreciation, real price growth and service-price options. Possibly the most topical for customers and stakeholders when it comes to pricing is the conversation about tariffs.

Network pricing is set in accordance with the National Electricity Rules (NER) and recovers costs related to electricity distribution in addition to transmission and solar PV feed-in-tariff costs, including smart meters. While you may not see this cost on your bill, it makes up the total amount that is charged by your retailer. It is the amount it costs the retailer to access our network so they can supply you with electricity.

When we set prices we’re thinking about the end user, so we design them in a way that provides agency. This means considering the way people use, store and generate power, now and into the future, and understanding what our customers value most.

We think good pricing should support customers and consider their diversity. They must also send the right signals to retailers and end users – residents, small business, commercial and industrial. Recognising these important attributes is the first step to ensuring our tariff structures are underpinned by customers’ choice.

We’ve progressed our plans for network pricing collaboratively with all Victorian networks.

Some of the things we’ll consider in designing tariffs for 2021-2015 include:

  • Tariff principles, tariff design option and transition paths
  • Complementary services we can bundle with our tariffs to make them easier for customers to understand
  • Rebates and incentives schemes to encourage people to reduce demand during peak events.

A Flexible Network

One thing is for certain – the energy market is evolving. As our market changes, so do the options for storing and generating electricity.

The advancements in solar generation means that almost any small user can be a generator with energy flowing in different directions at different times of the day, creating a much more dynamic integrated system. Solar is just the start of the story.

In the future, distributed generation might interact with various forms of local storage technology and energy management systems, giving customers more options in how they use the grid and how they manage their energy usage.

Our solar options are on the table

On 1 April 2019 we hosted a future networks forum with 45 stakeholders. The forum took a deep dive into our plans for solar and demand response, focusing on how we can enable more distributed energy onto the network.

When looking at the two topics we narrowed down the feedback we were seeking to – our proposed options to enable more solar exports, and current and future demand response programs and incentives to encourage customers to shift their energy load to off-peak periods.

Stakeholders’ feedback from the forum suggested we needed to do more. Not only with our plans for solar and demand response, but how we unlock more opportunities for distributed energy through all avenues.

In response, we brought our Energy Futures Customer Advisory Panel together on 30 April 2019 and put all of our options back on the table. Since then, we’ve refined the options paper and taken it into other stakeholder forums for discussion. We realise it’s important to get everyone’s input and have now opened up for consultation.

Our planning builds on experience

Already we have taken steps to better understand the changing needs of the network and our customers as part of the transformation. We have worked with residential customers to install batteries into homes as part of a trial, and continued our demand response program, Summer Saver

Efficiency incentives, renewable energy and non-network solutions and incentives for demand management will form an important part of our regulatory submission. Some of the things we’ll consider in planning and modelling for 2021-2015 include:

  • Rise in take up and popularity for solar, batteries and electric vehicles
  • Impacts of distributed energy generation on our network
  • Requests and level of support for community micro-grid, solar and wind farm projects
  • Network data access and portability to support community and state level renewable energy targets.