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AGL Energy Limited 32
Customer hardship
Average level of debt per customer is only one of a number of
measures we use to assess the success of the Staying Connected
program. There are inherent limitations in this particular measure,
given that energy costs are increasing year on year and because of
external factors in the broader economy, which impact on the ability
of customers to manage their costs.
Other indicators AGL uses to track the success of Staying Connected
include the time it takes for a customer to return to a sustainable
energy consumption position, and the number of times each
participant has joined the Staying Connected program.
Of the Staying Connected participants as at 30 June 2012, 22%
have been on the program for two or more years. Approximately
17% of Staying Connected participants were customers returning
to the program.
Over the course of the year AGL worked with a consortium of
community and consumer organisations to address issues associated
with significant long-term customer hardship. AGL was able to
provide approximately $200,000 of assistance to 89 customers,
all of whom were identified and referred by financial counsellors.
AGL continues to offer Staying Connected participants energy
efficiency advice and home energy consumption audits, which assist
customers to return to sustainable energy consumption levels as
well as a sustainable debt position. In Victoria and South Australia,
AGL partnered with Kildonan UnitingCare and Mission Australia and
during FY2012, 826 energy audits were completed by these two
community sector partners on behalf of AGL. In Queensland and
New South Wales, AGL worked in partnership with the government
funded home energy efficiency programs in those states, referring
eligible customers for assistance.
AGL is currently restructuring its assistance to financial counselling
organisations in order to achieve a nationally consistent model
which is designed to integrate with Federal Government
assistance programs.
AGL Advocacy work
During FY2012, AGL maintained an open dialogue with customers
and consumer representatives in order to foster mutual
understanding and awareness of customer issues.
The AGL Customer Council continued to meet quarterly, discussing
AGL’s performance and policy positions. During the year, the
Reverend Harry Herbert, who co-chaired the AGL Customer Council
since its inception in 1998, stepped down. Reverend Herbert
advocated strongly for the rights of customers during his time as
Chair, and provided great insight on how best to assist vulnerable
customers. In November 2011, we were pleased to welcome Dr
Lynne Chester as the new Chair of the AGL Customer Council. Dr
Chester, a senior lecturer in the Department of Political Economy
at the University of Sydney, has extensive knowledge of the energy
industry, focussing on issues such as regulation, energy markets and
energy poverty. In FY2013, the AGL Customer Council will focus on
refining the shared responsibility model, ensuring all stakeholders
recognise the importance of their role, as well as discussing how
best to assist vulnerable customers to engage with confidence in
the energy market, enabling them to meet their energy needs at the
lowest possible cost.
AGL recognises the need to work with community and consumer
organisations on a range of issues that impact consumers. Typically,
the resolution of many of these issues involves ongoing discussion
and negotiation with consumers, industry, government and the
community sector.
During FY2012, AGL:
>> worked with industry and the community sector to address
high numbers of disconnections in the Queensland market;
>> was the only retailer present at the South Australian Council
of Social Service Affordability Summit in October 2011;
>> worked with a number of community organisations to assist
in the effective implementation of the federally funded Home
Energy Saver Scheme (HESS); and
>> collaborated with the community sector to apply for funding
through the Low Income Energy Efficiency Program (LIEPP)
for a range of new and ambitious programs to assist our most
vulnerable customers (at the time of writing, the outcomes of
these funding applications were still pending).
Number of years on Staying Connected program
Staying Connected return customers
1 year or less
1 to 2 years
2 or more years
Data is based on Staying Connected
population, as at 30 June 2012.
First time Staying
Connected customer
Return Staying Connected
customer (second time)
Multiple Staying Connected
Data is based on Staying Connected
population, as at 30 June 2012.