3 minute read

Looking after our people and keeping the lights on

Brett Redman
19 March 2020

As the largest electricity generator in Australia, AGL has an essential role to play in keeping the lights on for homes and businesses. We are actively monitoring and managing the unfolding COVID-19 (Coronavirus) crisis to ensure we keep our people safe and continue to deliver for our customers.

Everyday our people work tirelessly to make sure the energy that cooks your dinner, cools or heats your home, or powers your business is provided. We’re proud of the work we do and the trust you place in us.

We have power stations in regional communities, like the Latrobe Valley and the Hunter Valley region, operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with our people there every day, delivering this essential service. We also offer our customers service, seven days a week. Our business never stops.

As the impact of COVID-19 increases, we want to reassure you that we’re working hard to do everything we can to be prepared. The nature of our business means that we plan for unexpected events to ensure we can always fulfil our responsibility as an essential service provider. We’re enhancing our business continuity planning and ramping up our precautionary measures to protect all our people and ensure the safety and reliability of our operations, so we can keep the lights on for everyone. We’re also looking at how we can support our customers during these challenging and unusual times.

Business continuity plans in place

Site-specific pandemic plans are in place across all of our locations, and with our flexible, diverse portfolio we’re well-placed to manage issues that may arise.

We’re also working closely with industry, government and regulators to ensure our actions are closely aligned to the broader industry and government response to the crisis.

Supporting our people

We’re prioritising the health and wellbeing of our people and their families, with particular focus on our critical frontline customer service and operations employees that will still largely need to come into the workplace.

To limit the number of people in the office at any one time, and to help minimise the risk of COVID-19 spreading, we are stepping up our work from home arrangements. For anyone whose role enables them to work from home, we’re splitting teams and they will have access to the office on alternative weeks.

For our contact-centre workforce, while they are already split across multiple geographical locations, we’re focused on further segregating domestic contact centre workforces across Melbourne and Adelaide. We are also accelerating the capability for many of our customer service agents to work from home.

At our operational sites, we have site-specific business continuity plans and controls in place. Employees whose roles are essential to maintaining generation will continue to work on site with the appropriate support.

We’re restricting access to site and engaging with key stakeholders to ensure our workforce understands and supports these measures. We’re also reviewing shift handover procedures, segregation options and rostering changes, as well as implementing additional cleaning and hygiene measures.

Supporting customers and the community

We acknowledge that many of our customers will be concerned about what’s ahead and, for some, these concerns will be about how they’re going to pay their bills. Difficult times, like the ones we’re experiencing now, can put people under unexpected financial pressure. We have a range of options that we can offer customers who may be struggling to pay their bills, the most important thing to do, is to get in touch with us early, so we can work with you to ensure you are on an affordable plan that suits your circumstances.

Our support includes payment plans and our Staying Connected hardship program. As well as providing a higher level of assistance than the minimum regulatory requirements, this program connects customers with tailored financial assistance options and provides them with access to financial counsellors, energy reviews, audits and tips, and protection from disconnection as long as customers are actively participating in the program.

AGL’s Staying Connected hardship program is available for customers based in NSW, QLD, SA and WA. If you’re a Victorian customer, support is available as part of our Payment Support Victoria program.

AGL also offers a number of affordability tools to support our small business customers, including access to extended payment terms and a number of payment management products including bill smoothing, monthly billing and payment deferrals.

Additionally, on Friday 27 March, AGL announced the COVID-19 Customer Support Program providing fast-tracked access to a program that defers payments and suspends disconnections until July 31 for customers who may be under financial stress as a result of the pandemic. Read more here.

Small business support

We’re also offering support for small business suppliers with our commitment to pay small businesses within 14 days to lend support as the economy is hit by the impacts of COVID-19.

We’re thinking of you

The unfolding COVID-19 crisis will mean different things to different people – everyone has their own complex web to deal with, be it supporting their families, elderly parents or just dealing with the wall-to-wall news.

But we want you to know we’re thinking of you. We’re thinking of our people, our customers and the community and will continue to make decisions that balance our need to keep our business running as an essential service provider, with protecting our most valuable asset, our people.

Take care and stay safe.

*Article updated on 30 March to include link to COVID-19 Customer Support Program announcement.