A landmark initiative to ensure clean, affordable, and dependable energy for all will be launched today, laying the groundwork for a people-centred energy system fit for the future.
ourPower is a framework that outlines vision, values, principles, and processes needed to guide the development of policy, energy market reforms, products, and services to drive the transition to an inclusive, sustainable, zero-emission energy system that benefits the community.
Initiated by the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) and Total Environment Centre (TEC), with the support of Energy Consumers Australia, it is a tool that energy providers, governments, regulators, and communities can use to work together to improve energy outcomes for communities and the environment.
ACOSS chief executive Cassandra Goldie said ourPower had been developed in consultation with the community to put people firmly at the centre of designing a future energy system.
“The energy market is changing rapidly and profoundly as we shift away from reliance on fossil fuels and pursue more climate-friendly renewable energy sources and technologies,” Dr Goldie said.
“If we get the transition right, the future of energy is not just clean, but cheaper and fairer for all. But we are a long way from seeing a fair and inclusive energy transition. The reliance on complex markets mean people on low incomes and fossil-fuel workers and their communities are being left behind.
“We need a people-centred energy transition that is inclusive and improves outcomes for people, communities and the environment.”
Total Environment Centre Executive Director Jeff Angel said the community wanted a fast transition to zero-emissions energy to combat the climate crisis, “but we also want it to benefit everyone”.
“With the energy transition now well underway, an already complex system is becoming even harder for many people to understand and negotiate. It is imperative that we have mechanisms to include people in reform processes, and for decision-makers to listen to them,” he said.
“ourPower is already having an impact on energy reform, and we look forward to governments, regulators and energy companies further embracing ourPower to drive better decision making.”
Energy Consumers Australia Chief Executive Lynne Gallagher said, as the energy system transitioned, it was critical that the “needs and preferences of everyone in our community are at the centre of the policies and decisions that are creating the future”.
“ourPower is a new tool that can help move us in that direction, and we are proud to have been a part of creating it,” she said.
“Providing clarity and understanding around what best-practice engagement with consumers looks like will be a win for the community but will also deliver better outcomes across industry and government. That’s the kind of change the energy system badly needs.”
ourPower was developed over two years in consultation with energy consumer advocates and the broader community and underpinned by consumer research and input from energy stakeholders. ourPower will continue to seek ongoing input from the community to ensure that its vision, values, and principles continue to reflect community values and expectations.
The initiative has attracted significant interest and is already being used to guide energy reforms. In the lead up to launch, organisations including Good Shepherd Australia, Uniting Communities, Renew, Consumer Action Australia, Public Interest Advocacy Centre, as well as state and territory councils of social service, have joined the initiative.
ourPower will be launched on 24 February at 12pm AEDT at an online event featuring Dr Goldie, Mr Angel, Ms Gallagher, and Australian Energy Market Commission CEO Ben Barr among other speakers.