Our support for regional, rural and remote communities goes beyond providing safe, reliable and affordable power and water.
We have a role in supporting our customers and communities to create sustainable futures. This includes continuing to work to keep downward pressure on network charges, providing career pathways for people living in regional areas, and supporting local community groups and vulnerable community members.
Assisting regional business and communities
Affordable energy supply
Our network charges for a typical residential customer have decreased by 38.5% since their peak in 2012-13 of $1,203 per annum.
This means a typical residential customer’s annual distribution network charge reduced to $739 in 2021-22: a saving of $464. Over the same period, a typical small business customer has achieved an annual saving of $2,221, or 41.8%.
Supporting regional communities
Beyond providing affordable energy, our broader efforts to assist regional communities, including those in vulnerable circumstances, includes:
Essential Communities Sponsorship Program
More than $662,000 was provided to 290 community groups and charity organisations from July 2021 to June 2022.
Continuing to work with partners to deliver more affordable, reliable and sustainable energy for all Australians, by contributing to a range of ‘Better Together’ initiatives.
North Coast floods response
Providing a range of support mechanisms for customers affected by the devastating floods in February and March 2022.
Our ongoing efforts to maintain a highly skilled workforce that reflects the diverse communities we serve included recruitment of 44 new apprentices, seven new trainees and four new graduates in early 2022.
Implementing our Public Safety Strategy, including commencing regular public safety behaviour and awareness research and developing a Public Safety Plan for Essential Water.
Enabling smart regional communities and new customer solutions
The fourth pillar of our Corporate Strategy aims to enhance our service offering to rural and regional communities by leveraging our infrastructure and expertise to facilitate and deploy smart technologies and infrastructure. We can do this using our:
- 1.4 million power poles and just over 68,000 streetlight poles to facilitate 5G network and smart city expansion
- 1,500 km of dark fibre network (currently unused fibre optic cable) in regional and remote NSW
- 170 towers to enable roll-out of mobile and wireless networks.
We delivered a high-speed fibre network for the Parkes Special Activation Precinct in November 2021. This network now provides secure, scalable, and high-speed communications, improving digital connectivity in the region and benefiting local businesses.
Ensuring sustainable and resilient supply chains
Our work to respond to social and environmental opportunities in our supply chains and to include sustainability in our procurement decisions includes:
Procurement from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses
Procuring $709,000 of services directly from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses between July 2021 and June 2022.
Recent procurement process improvements made it possible for the first time to track this information, with all new suppliers able to identify as supporting minority groups during registration.
Continuing to work with employees, suppliers and partners to improve systems and processes to avoid complicity in modern slavery or human rights violations related to our own operations, our supply chain and our services.
Protecting cultural heritage
With our network spanning the lands of 29 First Nations, we will continue to explore opportunities to improve our engagement with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups and to manage risks in culturally significant areas, including for vegetation management and network design.
We continue to engage with the Biamanga Board of Management and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service on the effective management of our assets contained on land within the control of the Biamanga Board of Management, on the NSW South Coast – providing certainty on how we manage assets on lands that hold special value to the Biamanga Board of Management and the broader local Aboriginal community.
We also continue to work with Energy Charter partners on the First Nations Engagement Better Together initiative.