25 October, 2023

People of Queensland prepare for a renewable energy future

On 29 May 2023 we confirmed 50 Ergon customers for the Ergon Energy Network Voice of the Customer Panel and 50 additional Energex customers for the Energex Voice of the Customer Panel. These people met, online, on 6 separate days between June and October 2023 to consider the question:

How should Ergon Energy Network/Energex plan for the new energy future, while providing affordable services that meet changing customer and community needs?

Sortition Foundation was tasked with recruiting these two sets of 50 panel members. We worked with MosaicLab  and Energy Queensland to achieve this. Below we briefly describe the details of this recruitment process; the process followed our standard two-stage sortition template in conformity with the OECD's good practice principles for deliberative processes for public decision making.

Stage 1

We randomly selected 10,000 addresses from across the Ergon Energy Network (200 addresses for every one of the needed 50 panel members) and 10,000 addresses from across the Energex Network. Each of these addresses received a letter in the post inviting residents to sign up as potential members of the Voice of the Customer Panel.

The 10,000 addresses for the Ergon Energy Network Voice of the Customer Panel are mapped below with blue pins.  The 10,000 addresses for Energex Voice of the Customer Panel are mapped below with brown pins. 

The invitation packages included the following summary cards (as well as a letter and FAQ):

All participants in the panel received $1000 in recognition of the considerable time and energy that the process asks of them. Invitations were open for 4 weeks and at the end of this time 273 people had signed up as potential panel members. There were 142 registrants for the Energex Voice of the Customer Panel and 131 interested registrants for the Ergon Energy Network Voice of the Customer Panel. 

Stage 2

As part of the sign-up procedure, all potential participants were required to share some basic information about themselves. We asked them to share their address, their date of birth, their gender, whether they own or rent their current residence and if they have solar panels installed on their home or business. We used information from the Energy Queensland database to sort interested registrants into either residential or business categories.

We then used this information as input into a "sortition algorithm"; this is a process of randomly selecting our 50 panel members from the pool of potential members in such a way that we have a representative sample (so, for instance, the age profile of the Ergon Energy Network Voice of the Customer Panel members is broadly similar to the age profile of the population of Queensland as a whole). Details of the specific algorithm we use, including information about the fairness of the algorithm, can be found here.

In addition to the information about gender, age, housing status and solar panels, we also used the address of each respondent to hit a further target:

  • Geography: We used information about the population distribution of both urban South-East Queensland and the more rural North-West Queensland to ensure that the people who were selected were drawn from all areas of Queensland, in proportion to the population in those areas.  

Details of the selection process for this panel are summarised using the following pie charts, with further information following.

The way to understand these pie charts is as follows:

  • Column 1 (Target): These pie charts give information about the population of the Ergon Energy Network as a whole, using various publicly available statistics (for instance via the ABS). As an example, in the second row, you can see that 16.3% of the population in Queensland is aged between 50 and 59. 
  • Column 2 (Respondents): These pie charts summarise the information that was provided to us by the 131 people who signed up as potential participants for the Ergon Energy Network Voice of the Customer Panel. There is some skewing in statistics here compared with our target: for instance, notice that a larger proportion of the respondents were classed as "Home Owners" compared with what one might expect from the general population.
  • Column 3 ( Confirmed Selected): These pie charts summarise information about the 50 people who were finally confirmed to participate in the panel. Notice that, thanks to our use of a sortition algorithm, the pie charts in this column are very similar to the target charts in the first column. As part of our recruitment process all of these people were contacted by telephone to confirm that they were still willing and able to participate - in the event that this was not the case, we used the sortition algorithm to replace people who dropped out with others who shared similar characteristics.

What happened next?

The two panels have met and worked with exceptional determination and focus to develop a detailed and thoughtful set of recommendations to Energy Queensland on two key areas; network tariff reforms and customer relations support.  After submitting the report to Energy Queensland, panel members expressed that they were proud of what they had accomplished, that they felt privileged to be a part of it, humbled by the experience and confident that Energy Queensland will follow through with the panel's recommendations for the benefit of all Queenslanders.  Energy Queensland expressed gratitude to the panel members for their dedication and for providing such rich insights.

Energy Queensland have a dedicated page where you can keep track of how the two Voice of the Customer Panels went. The panel is part of a wider program aimed at engaging customers in feedback.  You can also register to receive updates on Energy Queensland’s engagements at Register | Talking Energy 

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