A commitment to genuine and constructive engagement will be critical to delivering effective regulation as the market and regulatory frameworks evolve, Australian Energy Regulator Board member, Cristina Cifuentes said at an Energy Networks Association event in Brisbane.
“It is vital that consumer interests are reflected in network services and investments as well as our decisions. This will only be achieved through genuine engagement—between network businesses and their consumers; the AER and consumers; and networks and the AER.” Ms Cifuentes said.
In her speech, Ms Cifuentes discussed how engagement practices have improved over recent years, both by the AER and network businesses, as well as opportunities for further change.
“Our recent stakeholder survey results highlighted that 87 per cent felt they had good opportunity for input into our work and 70 per cent were satisfied overall with our stakeholder consultation and engagement.” Ms Cifuentes said.
“Our 2013 Stakeholder Engagement Framework embeds stakeholder participation across all our work. We will shortly be commencing a review of this Framework to ensure that our practices continue to improve and evolve."
“Our stakeholders must trust that their views are heard and understood and to be able to see how these have been taken into consideration as part of our decision-making process."
“It is important to us that we are perceived to run predictable, transparent and open processes. We want to start a genuine and open dialogue about what we can do better and we look forward to hearing stakeholders’ views."
“Improving the way we engage will remain a priority for us. We will be publishing our stakeholder survey results at the end of next month, along with our views on how we take forward the areas identified for further improvement."
Ms Cifuentes also highlighted in her speech a number of recent engagement initiatives from network business that demonstrated a genuine commitment to engage more constructively.
“Consumer choice is driving the evolution within the energy sector. We share a responsibility and an obligation to understand the needs and priorities of consumers to ensure that regulation and the services provided by network businesses adapt and continue to provide for their long-term interests.” Ms Cifuentes said.