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Creating clarity during the energy transition

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      June 11, 2024 | Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre

      Australian Energy Week 2024

      June 12, 2024 | Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre


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      Generation & Storage, Policy & Regulation, Retail, Transmission & Distribution — 7 mins read

      Meet some of the women at the helm of Australia’s energy transition – Australian Energy Week 2023

      Energy conferences are often dominated by men, and this gender imbalance does not accurately represent the makeup of the Australian energy sector, but rather the lack of platforms afforded to women at energy conferences.

      As such, you can imagine my excitement at seeing such a strong presence of women among Australian Energy Week 2023’s speakers and attendees.

      It’s worth noting that this is not an exhaustive list of all the female speakers at Australian Energy Week, but rather those whom I had the chance to listen to and appreciate their expertise.

      Lisa Chiba - Supporting and enabling all customers, including the vulnerable, through the energy transition 

      Lisa Chiba presented on the ways retailers can better engage with businesses and consumers throughout the energy transition.

      Chiba is the Managing Director of Momentum Energy, a Melbourne-based gas and electricity company owned by Hydro Tasmania. Momentum is all about placing consumers at the forefront of the transition, rather than energy experts behind closed doors, and her speech encapsulated this.

      Customers want to be a part of the energy transition, but we need to help them,” Chiba said of energy retailers. She acknowledged that while businesses and customers have varying levels of interest in the transition, it’s up to energy retailers to tailor their “green communications” to suit the different levels.

      She suggested that retailers keep affordability, reliability, accessibility, participation, and transparency at the forefront of their messaging, to “minimise the detractors and reduce the friction.”

      Despite operating on a smaller scale compared to larger energy retailers, her advice transcends size and applies to the whole transition. Momentum Energy believes in breaking down the technical jargon and making the energy transition as easy to understand as possible for consumers.

      “They are all looking for credible, reliable information. They want help. They want the right products and solutions and I believe that the retail sector is well placed,” Chiba said.  

      Emma Roberts - Making the shift from fossil fuel to renewable hydrogen

      “It’s a once in a generation opportunity. So, let’s put our shoulder to the wheel and make sure we have the collaborative discussion, rather than just listen to the loudest voice all the time.”

      These are the words of Emma Roberts, the Executive General Manager Future Energy at CS Energy. CS Energy is a Queensland-owned and based energy company that provides power to Queensland’s biggest industries and employers.

      Roberts spoke to the ways Australia can leverage the benefits of low-carbon forms of gas such as hydrogen to ensure a reliable, low emissions, future energy mix. But first, she emphasised the importance of social license and harnessing the power of local communities.

      “If we don’t get this right within the communities within which we work, we won’t get out of the box,” she said.

      “We need to educate and inform our communities about the benefits of renewable energy, but also listen and understand legitimate concerns about jobs and economic opportunities and particularly in our regional centres.”

      Therefore, CS Energy seeks to work with councils, chambers of commerce, schools, local environment groups and others with an interest in local economic development to ensure all voices in the area they are operating are harnessed.

      Roberts emphasised the importance of identifying the jobs and skills needed for communities to build their clean energy future and help to generate “significant employment and economic opportunities for communities that find themselves at the frontline of change when it comes to transitioning from old energy economy to the new.”

      Anna Collyer - Reaching the net zero target

      Anna Collyer, Chair of the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) presented a keynote speech on achieving the transition at least cost, not any cost.

      She was also part of the Women in Energy panel discussion which spoke to the impact of low diversity in the sector and what can be done to improve it. I was only fortunate enough to listen to her keynote speech.  

      Collyer opened with an Acknowledgment of Country that transcended beyond a ticking off exercise, recognising the care First Nations people have given “the lands and waters that we rely on to generate and transmit energy systems.”

      “Every jurisdiction in Australia is now in some way working to bring Indigenous People’s unique ideas and needs into the energy transition and I hope that we’ll see this participation grow even more meaningful in the future,” Collyer said.

      Interestingly, Collyer relied on a jigsaw puzzle analogy to convey the “enormity of the energy transformation in Australia.”

      While there are going to be unforeseeable gaps in the puzzle as the transition plays out, Collyer insisted that there must be alignment across the sector on what the transition should look like. Just like how we approach a puzzle, she believes we must find solutions by looking at the transition from all angles and perspectives.

      Now that governments across Australia are better aligned on net-zero targets, Collyer spoke to the importance of balancing emissions reduction outcomes with other components of the transition.

      “Will we be balancing emissions reduction outcomes in the same way that we currently balance the existing elements of price, reliability, quality, safety and security.”

      Clare Savage - Update from Australian Energy Regulator (AER)

      “Energy is an essential service. it’s often said that we need to remind ourselves it’s an essential service. It’s the key to living a productive life. We have high expectations of the businesses that produce, distribute, and sell energy.”

      Clare Savage, the Chair of the Australian Energy Regulator, emphasised the importance of protecting consumers through the energy transition, “because the consumer voice is central to everything we do, and it will always have a seat at our table.”

      The morning of her speech, the Australian Energy Regulator released their Compliance and Enforcement Priorities, which solidifies the AER’s objective to protect consumers and deter bad retailer behaviour across the network.

      “We want the release of these priorities to spur proactive efforts to make sure your houses are in order. For consumers, we want to give them continued confidence that we are regulating for them,”.Savage said.

      To ensure continued confidence and protect consumer interests, Savage noted that “compliance failures in the energy sector can no longer be dismissed as a cost of doing business,” but rather dealt with according to the penalties laid down by the law.

      Savage also spoke to AER’s Vulnerability Strategy which seeks to protect consumers enduring financial hardships. The strategy aims to identify customers experiencing financial difficulties and provide them with the support they need sooner.

      The above excerpts are but a snapshot of the many women who are at the helm of Australia's energy transition and of the varied voices who presented at AEW 2023.

      As a strategic communications firm, Michelson Alexander is proud to work with a variety of clients to support the endeavours of Australia’s clean energy future.

      If your company is wondering how to navigate the current energy crises and tackle the public discourse on renewable energy, feel free to get in touch with our clean energy team to see how they can support you.

      Matilda Finn, Associate, Michelson Alexander

      Energy Monthly

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      June 11, 2024 | Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre

      Australian Energy Week 2024

      June 12, 2024 | Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre


      September 3, 2024 | Aerial UTS Function Centre | Sydney

      Industrial Net Zero Conference 2024

      New call-to-action