CEO Welcome - Newsletter May 2022

04 May 2022

A year on from the one-in-one-hundred-year floods in Port Macquarie, and as our crews bring their response to unprecedented flooding in the North Coast of NSW to a close, I am proud to see our people and key partners dig deep to respond and support the impacted communities. Once again, we have seen our people working safely and diligently to re-energise communities devastated by floods, finding new solutions to new challenges driven by these extraordinary events.

The increased frequency of major weather events makes it likely these experiences will be repeated in the regional, rural and remote regions where we operate and where our people live. It will demand more and more of a network that was designed and built for one-way electron flow many decades ago.

Strategically, we have been preparing for this through our organisational transformation efforts to create a network fit for the future.

We are working to improve network resilience in the face of more extreme weather through data-driven predictive asset management modelling and demonstrating how the distribution network can best support the energy transition - through connecting smaller, resilient energy communities to the larger network. Our network will need to support and enhance the upsurge in Electric Vehicles and business electrification, while allowing communities in regional NSW to access a smart network and enjoy access to energy, renewable power and internet comparable to their city-based cousins.

As our customer engagement for the 2024-2029 Regulatory Submission approaches its third round, we are hearing from customers – including large business, Councils and residents across our network footprint– how the pace and depth of change is impacting their attitudes and expectations of how Essential Energy should be operating as a modern network.

In the past few months alone, key transition milestones have been announced in the energy industry earlier than expected, including the closure of Eraring Power Station; AGL’s proposed strategic separation and attempted takeovers. Additionally, and as a Federal Election approaches, there have been several policy announcements around electric vehicles, hydrogen powered consumer and transport vehicles and transmission investment.

Safety remains a key focus. Everyone in Essential Energy is deeply committed to keeping the public safe around our network– whether that’s ensuring powerlines are kept above statutory minimum heights; the work to engage across at-risk industries; development and promotion of our free app, Look Up and Live; working with suppliers to develop innovative powerline markers and interrogating our own practices and processes to embed a whole-of-system approach to public safety.

Additional effort has been applied over the past two years, understanding that COVID-19 combined with bumper harvests, would lead to a potentially fatal combination of inexperienced, and tired workers. We must once again encourage the entire community, especially those who work more frequently near our powerlines, to treat the electricity network as a potentially fatal risk, and to plan and take precautions around it accordingly.

John Cleland

In this edition
SµRF's up!
Flawless accreditation ISO55001 sets the scene for Essential Energy
Embedding our customer’s voice into our future
54 new starters power into a new career
Our heroes wear hi-vis
A million ways to say thanks