Customer Voice Panel

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As part of our commitment to better understanding the needs of our customers, we set up Customer Voice Panels to hear directly from local electricity customers.

The Customer Voice Panels bring together a cross-section of residential and small business customers with sessions held in each in our key service regions of Dunedin, Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes.

Our first sessions were held in August 2018 and members of the Panel meet three to four times a year to help us understand what our customers expect from us and how we can best communicate the information they want to know about.

The Customer Voice Panels are an important part of our wider consumer consultation and engagement as we develop our future network investment plan for our customised price-quality path (CPP) application in June 2020.

What Customers Told Us

Participants in our first Customer Voice Panels told us they want...

  • Easy access to information on power outages in their area
  • Communication on the plan for our power pole programme
  • Clarity on what distribution companies do in relation to the rest of the electricity sector
  • Simple and clear communications, with the information they really care about.

Participants in our second Customer Voice Panels told us they want...

  • Updates on progress to date, and tracking progress made in the future, on the pole replacement and reinforcement efforts
  • Simple and clear infographics as a way of communicating about Aurora Energy’s progress
  • Wide opportunities for customers to engage through consultation on future pricing options
  • Proactive and regular communication around planned outages if more were required in the future.

In our third Customer Voice Panels, we discussed CPP consultation. Participants told us they...

  • Want simple, clear information using visuals to present information for consultation and avoid wordy, complex material
  • Need to see clear benefits if prices are to increase
  • Prefer feedback questions that are unambiguous and offer choice to express how much they agree or disagree
  • Want to get feedback at the end of consultation - on the results of surveys or outcomes from consultation
  • Think we were taking steps to improve the network with much better communication, but more to do.

In our fourth Customer Voice Panels, we discussed customer service expectations, reliability and introduced how industry pricing works...

  • Participants told us improving our service to help customers find or receive notifications about power cuts would be useful – like automated messages, apps, social media updates and proactive letters or phone calls
  • Participants shared their own experience of power cuts, which ranged from some to none, very similar to the range of reliability experienced by most of our customers on the network
  • Participants thought the regulatory compliance limits for reliability should distinguish between planned power cuts for preventive work and unplanned power cuts from faults, so that we can carry out the necessary work without being penalised
  • We explained how the costs of providing electricity supply services were allocated and explained why it is cheaper to provide supply to densely populated, urban areas than to remote, rural areas
  • Participants helped us understand their priorities for investment across the six areas of safety, reliability, resilience, growth, future technology and customer service.

In our fifth Customer Voice Panels, we discussed future trends and new technologies...

  • Participants told us population growth, housing availability and affordability, climate change and infrastructure were all key challenges facing each of their regions – some more than others, but these were very consistent across all the groups.
  • For most participants, the cost to purchase and range anxiety were the main inhibitors to moving to an electric vehicle, a majority would consider making the switch if these deterrents were removed. The environmental benefits, running costs compared to combustion engine vehicles and charging convenience were all attractive.
  • Solar panels were of interest to some participants, but capital outlay, battery cost and sunshine hours were mentioned as barriers to considering solar panels as an alternative to grid-supplied electricity. Those who were interested talked about generating and using their own energy and an environmentally friendly alternative as reasons for why they would consider solar.
  • The rising impacts of population growth in their regions and an awareness of climate change were at the forefront of the discussion. Many could see the possibility of weather change affecting people’s energy use, the rise of alternative energy resources impacting the electricity infrastructure and increased population and housing increasing demand on the distribution network.

In our sixth Customer Voice Panels, we discussed our proposed plan for future investment on our network...

  • While participants were surprised by the prices being proposed, they understood why the investment was necessary to ensure a safe and reliable network.
  • Each of the groups were initially surprised by the higher prices in Central Otago and Queenstown, compared to Dunedin. We explained that Aurora Energy follows the regulated pricing guidelines outlined by the Electricity Authority, which requires our prices to reflect the costs of providing the service and to avoid cross-subsidy between groups of customers. As such, our prices reflect the value of the assets in each region (roughly the different length of network needed to serve the total number of customers in each region). The panellists thought others would also benefit from this explanation to avoid any perception of unfairness.
  • Participants thought customers would like to see, and will benefit from, a breakdown of where the total expenditure is going “to make the big numbers more meaningful”.
  • Participants thought it would be valuable to explain the role of regulators in determining the maximum revenue we can recover, setting guidelines on how prices are allocated and ensuring a robust process is followed in assessing our customised price-quality path application.
  • Some participants questioned the capability of the business to deliver the programme being proposed and felt reassured to know the regulator would be measuring performance against the plan (if it is approved by the Commerce Commission).
  • On the whole, participants felt Aurora Energy demonstrating social conscience around energy hardship was very important and had differing ideas of how we could best do this.

As part of our commitment to better understanding the needs of our customers, we set up Customer Voice Panels to hear directly from local electricity customers.

The Customer Voice Panels bring together a cross-section of residential and small business customers with sessions held in each in our key service regions of Dunedin, Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes.

Our first sessions were held in August 2018 and members of the Panel meet three to four times a year to help us understand what our customers expect from us and how we can best communicate the information they want to know about.

The Customer Voice Panels are an important part of our wider consumer consultation and engagement as we develop our future network investment plan for our customised price-quality path (CPP) application in June 2020.

What Customers Told Us

Participants in our first Customer Voice Panels told us they want...

  • Easy access to information on power outages in their area
  • Communication on the plan for our power pole programme
  • Clarity on what distribution companies do in relation to the rest of the electricity sector
  • Simple and clear communications, with the information they really care about.

Participants in our second Customer Voice Panels told us they want...

  • Updates on progress to date, and tracking progress made in the future, on the pole replacement and reinforcement efforts
  • Simple and clear infographics as a way of communicating about Aurora Energy’s progress
  • Wide opportunities for customers to engage through consultation on future pricing options
  • Proactive and regular communication around planned outages if more were required in the future.

In our third Customer Voice Panels, we discussed CPP consultation. Participants told us they...

  • Want simple, clear information using visuals to present information for consultation and avoid wordy, complex material
  • Need to see clear benefits if prices are to increase
  • Prefer feedback questions that are unambiguous and offer choice to express how much they agree or disagree
  • Want to get feedback at the end of consultation - on the results of surveys or outcomes from consultation
  • Think we were taking steps to improve the network with much better communication, but more to do.

In our fourth Customer Voice Panels, we discussed customer service expectations, reliability and introduced how industry pricing works...

  • Participants told us improving our service to help customers find or receive notifications about power cuts would be useful – like automated messages, apps, social media updates and proactive letters or phone calls
  • Participants shared their own experience of power cuts, which ranged from some to none, very similar to the range of reliability experienced by most of our customers on the network
  • Participants thought the regulatory compliance limits for reliability should distinguish between planned power cuts for preventive work and unplanned power cuts from faults, so that we can carry out the necessary work without being penalised
  • We explained how the costs of providing electricity supply services were allocated and explained why it is cheaper to provide supply to densely populated, urban areas than to remote, rural areas
  • Participants helped us understand their priorities for investment across the six areas of safety, reliability, resilience, growth, future technology and customer service.

In our fifth Customer Voice Panels, we discussed future trends and new technologies...

  • Participants told us population growth, housing availability and affordability, climate change and infrastructure were all key challenges facing each of their regions – some more than others, but these were very consistent across all the groups.
  • For most participants, the cost to purchase and range anxiety were the main inhibitors to moving to an electric vehicle, a majority would consider making the switch if these deterrents were removed. The environmental benefits, running costs compared to combustion engine vehicles and charging convenience were all attractive.
  • Solar panels were of interest to some participants, but capital outlay, battery cost and sunshine hours were mentioned as barriers to considering solar panels as an alternative to grid-supplied electricity. Those who were interested talked about generating and using their own energy and an environmentally friendly alternative as reasons for why they would consider solar.
  • The rising impacts of population growth in their regions and an awareness of climate change were at the forefront of the discussion. Many could see the possibility of weather change affecting people’s energy use, the rise of alternative energy resources impacting the electricity infrastructure and increased population and housing increasing demand on the distribution network.

In our sixth Customer Voice Panels, we discussed our proposed plan for future investment on our network...

  • While participants were surprised by the prices being proposed, they understood why the investment was necessary to ensure a safe and reliable network.
  • Each of the groups were initially surprised by the higher prices in Central Otago and Queenstown, compared to Dunedin. We explained that Aurora Energy follows the regulated pricing guidelines outlined by the Electricity Authority, which requires our prices to reflect the costs of providing the service and to avoid cross-subsidy between groups of customers. As such, our prices reflect the value of the assets in each region (roughly the different length of network needed to serve the total number of customers in each region). The panellists thought others would also benefit from this explanation to avoid any perception of unfairness.
  • Participants thought customers would like to see, and will benefit from, a breakdown of where the total expenditure is going “to make the big numbers more meaningful”.
  • Participants thought it would be valuable to explain the role of regulators in determining the maximum revenue we can recover, setting guidelines on how prices are allocated and ensuring a robust process is followed in assessing our customised price-quality path application.
  • Some participants questioned the capability of the business to deliver the programme being proposed and felt reassured to know the regulator would be measuring performance against the plan (if it is approved by the Commerce Commission).
  • On the whole, participants felt Aurora Energy demonstrating social conscience around energy hardship was very important and had differing ideas of how we could best do this.