The recipients of Energy Network Australia’s Industry Innovation, Contribution and Consumer Engagement Awards have been announced, highlighting the achievements of Australia’s energy network industry.
Western Power Principal Networks Strategy Engineer, Nigel Wilmot, has been named the 2021 Energy Network Australia Industry Contribution Award winner.
The 2021 Energy Network Consumer Engagement Award was awarded to electricity transmission system operator Powerlink Queensland.
The 2021 Energy Network Industry Innovation Award was awarded to Queensland’s electricity distributors Ergon Energy Network and Energex.
Mr Wilmot was recognised for his significant contribution to the energy industry, in particular for driving the development of new Australian technical standards that govern the connection of renewable energy devices to Australian households and businesses.
The award was presented by Energy Networks Australia Chair, Ben Wilson, CEO Andrew Dillon and General Manager Corporate Affairs and Western Australia, Tamatha Smith.
The event was also attended by Western Power Staff and CEO, Ed Kalajzic.
Mr Dillon said Mr Wilmot’s work would have a lasting effect on Australia’s energy transition.
“Through Nigel’s foresight, he anticipated the huge growth in solar and battery technology and the need to implement a set of standards to ensure the integrity of Australia’s energy grid was maintained,” Mr Dillon said.
“These standards were revolutionary and once again proved Australia was at the forefront of renewable integration.”
Western Power CEO, Ed Kalajzic, congratulated Mr Wilmot on the award and his contribution and dedication to Western Power over the previous 17 years.
“Nigel has repeatedly demonstrated his passion, commitment and leadership in bringing forward standards that provide positive impacts for the community, industry and the environment,” Mr Kalajzic said
“It is Nigel’s inclusive leadership style that is at the heart of the success of these standards, ensuring their longevity, applicability and practicality.”
Consumer Engagement Award
Run jointly by Energy Networks Australia (ENA) and Energy Consumers Australia, the Energy Network Consumer Engagement Award recognises an Australian energy network that demonstrates best practice consumer engagement.
Powerlink Queensland received the award for its consumer engagement approach during its 2023-27 revenue determination process.
Energy Consumers Australia CEO, Lynne Gallagher, said the network’s submission showed outstanding engagement practice and represented a new high-water mark for customer consultation.
“It was pleasing to see Powerlink’s willingness to undertake a genuine co-design process together with consumers, market bodies and executive teams within the business,” Ms Gallagher said.
“When networks undertake this kind of work, discrepancies between industry assumptions and the reality of consumer experiences are laid bare.
“A clearer understanding of your customer’s values, expectations and needs leads to better-served consumers and is better business as well.”
ENA CEO, Andrew Dillon, said the integration of consumer engagement into energy networks business planning was vital to putting customers first and achieving optimal outcomes in pricing and services.
“Powerlink’s engagement through its revenue determination process took customers on the journey, rather than assuming their needs and informing them of a pre-determined outcome,” Mr Dillon said.
Powerlink Queensland CEO, Paul Simshauser, said the business was keen to share its experiences and learnings with the energy sector.
“We are eager to offer insights on our engagement approach to other network businesses,’’ Mr Simshauser said.
“If we can help them better understand the benefits and risks of a co-designed approach, we can work to achieve better outcomes for our customers.”
Mr Dillon and Ms Gallagher congratulated the other shortlisted finalists, AGIG, Horizon Power and Energy Queensland, on their outstanding submissions.
Ergon Energy Network and Energex are the winners of the Innovation Award for 2021.
The winning project is an Australian-first implementation of a digital system to generate a complete and consistent picture of the operational state of the grid.
The initiative supports the integration of distributed energy resources (DER) like rooftop solar PV so more customers can export solar, voltage impacts on the grid can be mitigated and power quality can be improved.
The award was presented virtually by judging panel Chair and Energy Networks Australia (ENA) General Manager Networks, Jill Cainey, and in person to Energy Queensland CEO, Rod Duke, by ENA’s Head of Regulation, Lucy Moon.
ENA CEO, Andrew Dillon, said the work had delivered innovative, data-driven solutions to the challenges the massive growth of rooftop solar was presenting for Queensland’s electricity system.
“This ground-breaking project will help Energex and Ergon deliver more for customers while reducing the network expenditure needed to manage DER impacts, improve power quality and help our transition to a decarbonised electricity system,” Mr Dillon said.
Mr Duke said the project exemplified an innovative approach to addressing the complex engineering challenges presented by the rapid growth of solar PV.
“Our focus has been on increasing solar opportunities for customers while supporting the safe, reliable and equitable operation of the grid and keeping costs down,” Mr Duke said.
“We are very proud to have this work recognised with this award.”