Effective engagement between the AEMC and stakeholders provides valuable input to our work program. We interact with individuals and organisations throughout each review and rule change process to build stakeholder awareness and understanding and provide an opportunity for meaningful input to inform our decision-making.

Submitting a rule change request

A unique aspect of the energy market and regulatory change process in Australia is that anyone can submit a request to change the arrangements . Rules can be changed in response to requests submitted to us by individuals, consumer groups, industry or governments.

The AEMC’s website includes step by-step guidelines to assist individuals or organisations in preparing a rule change request. If a proponent is unsure about whether their request satisfies the relevant statutory requirements, we encourage them to seek assistance from the AEMC before submitting it.

Our stakeholders

Our stakeholders include:

  • COAG Energy Council - We report regularly to federal, state and territory energy ministers in relation to our work program and emerging issues for gas and electricity markets. 
  • Jurisdictional governments, their departments and regulators - We hold regular briefings with federal, state and territory officials who provide support to COAG Energy Council ministers on stakeholder views and energy sector issues and development. We engage with other government bodies as appropriate.
  • Governance framework agencies - The AEMC Commissioners and senior management conduct regular leadership team briefings with the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) and with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) ’s board and senior management team.
  • Energy market participants - Most submissions to our reviews and rule change projects are made to us by energy market participants and formal discussion is conducted around individual rules and reviews.
  • Consumer representatives - We regularly meet with consumer groups representing large and small consumers, including Energy Consumers Australia.

Engagement

We engage with stakeholders through formal channels including:

  • public forums
  • teleconferences
  • written submissions

and less formal channels including:

  • workshops
  • advisory groups
  • one-on one meetings.

Many stakeholders choose to subscribe to our weekly e-newsletter to receive notification of every report we publish, as well as date for upcoming submission deadlines and events.

Stakeholders can also follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn for regular updates.

The AEMC actively seeks out stakeholders with whom we have not previously engaged to let them know how they can participate in our statutory processes. This year we published two guides: Applying the energy objectives and The rule change process which provide an overview of the work of the Commission, how we approach our decision making, and the process involved in a rule change or review.

Our consultation processes

At the start of a rule change, the AEMC assesses the level of stakeholder engagement that may be required throughout the process, taking into account matters such as the anticipated complexity and the potential impacts of the proposed change.

We then create a project plan setting out the most appropriate mechanisms to engage with stakeholders and help them provide meaningful input to the rule change. We are aware that stakeholders may be concurrently engaging in consultation on a number of other reviews or inquiries within the energy sector. Our focus is on providing stakeholders with sufficient time and information to consider our consultation papers and draft reports, and we are open to extending consultation periods on request.

We are aware of our stakeholders’ desire for us to make rules more quickly. Where possible we identify efficiencies which can speed up our processes, provided it does not compromise the thorough consultation and engagement that forms the basis for an open and robust decision-making process.

Our approach - Engaged and informed consumers

It is consumers themselves who are in the best position to decide what works for them. A significant part of the AEMC’s work program over recent years has been focussed on supporting the development of the competitive retail services market, supporting more engaged and informed consumer choices, and protecting those who are unable to engage, or choose not to.

We regularly engage with Energy Consumers Australia to expand the conversation on consumer priorities. We identify opportunities for AEMC participation in relevant consumer group events, such as consumer roundtables.

We also strive to make the AEMC’s work more accessible to individual consumers. Activities include consumer priorities forums, more work on plain English documents, and ongoing enhancements to the AEMC website to improve usability. We continually look for ways to improve the clarity and readability of our reports.

It is critical for consumers and their representatives to be engaged in our consultation processes so their views can be properly considered, and we find they often bring diverse perspectives to the table.

Consumer research

This year the AEMC continued to reach out to small consumers. We undertook extensive consumer research as part of our annual retail competition review to better understand the preferences and expectations of households and small businesses.

Our most recent consumer research, published in July 2017 within the 2017 retail energy competition review final report, found that energy consumers have more choices to manage their energy use and are looking to take up new technology options:

  • 20% of consumers surveyed now have solar panels
  • 21% are likely to adopt battery storage in the next two years
  • 18% are likely to take up a home energy management system in the next two years.

The report made a number of recommendations to make it easier for customers to take advantage of competition and make the best energy choices for their household or business.

Extent of our engagement

Between July 2016 and June 2017 we participated in almost 800 separate stakeholder meetings and presentations on rule change projects, reviews or energy market issues.

We also received and assessed 525 submissions to reports we published, all of which were taken into account before we made the decisions which were published in our final reports and determinations.

Stakeholder feedback on our consultation processes

In 2014-2015 the AEMC implemented consultation process surveys which are designed to measure stakeholder satisfaction with the AEMC’s engagement and communications and identify ways in which engagement can be improved.

We committed to evaluating 25 per cent of completed rule changes and reviews each year. This year we surveyed stakeholders who were actively involved in one or more of nine projects, selected to encompass the breadth of the AEMC’s work program and a wide range of stakeholder types.

In total, 429 stakeholders were invited to participate and we were pleased to receive responses from 22 per cent of individuals. The average rating this year was 7.2 (out of 10), an increase from the 6.7 recorded in 2015-2016. Almost 80 per cent of people surveyed rated the AEMC’s overall approach to the reviewer rule change they participated in as quite good, very good or excellent (7 or more out of 10). Significantly fewer stakeholders rated our consultation processes as poor.