- Annual Report 2019-20
Annual Report 2019-20Published 23 November 2020
From the CEO
2019–20 has been an exceptional year. We have heard the expression ‘unprecedented times’ reverberate around the world as the biggest health crisis of our time encircled the globe.
The challenges posed by 2019–20 have not been experienced on this scale for a century. But the extraordinary response of commission staff, who continued to work to deliver support for all Victorians, was unparalleled – but also completely within character.
I would like to thank staff and commissioners, who stood firm in our purpose and continued to work hard for the benefit of all Victorians, in spite of the challenges.
Our response to the coronavirus pandemic focused on three goals:
- ensuring that the essential services we regulate continued to deliver for consumers
- supporting the health and wellbeing of our staff
- ensuring we could continue to operate effectively from home.
The response of our staff was timely, it was meaningful, and it demonstrated that deep connection to our purpose that I believe characterises the commission. Our response to the pandemic required significant prioritisation of effort across our work program.
We made changes to our codes and guidance for water businesses to ensure protections are in place for customers and small businesses. We increased the frequency of our monitoring of these essential services to understand the impact on customers and businesses as events unfolded, and held regular online forums with businesses and consumer groups to ensure that we understood what was happening on the ground. We also worked with accredited providers in the Victoria Energy Upgrade program to ensure the impacts of the pandemic were being managed appropriately.
Our business continuity responded well to the challenges. We moved to fully working from home in early March. We were fortunate to be able to build on existing flexible working strategies, including upgrades of our IT system, and significantly increased our focus on health and wellbeing of staff.
There was consequently no significant disruption of our work program – while some work needed to slow down – including some software development projects, we were able to continue to deliver on our core deliverables.
The 2020 water price reviews meant most Melbourne households will enjoy a drop in water bills in 2020–21, while bills in regional Victoria will mostly rise by less than inflation.
There continued to be significant workload delivered through the Victorian Energy Upgrades scheme, notwithstanding the year’s disruptions.
We set the first Victorian default offer for the first time under our own powers. The default offer now benefits around 124,000 residential and 40,000 small business customers with its pricing protections.
We continued to build our enforcement capabilities to ensure that there is effective accountability in the energy sector. We issued more than $2 million in penalties to energy companies.
We also continued to grow as an organisation as we have continued to implement the government’s energy fairness plan. Staff numbers have now increased to 138 and we welcomed two new commissioners – Sitesh Bhojani and Rebecca Billings.
Our work has never been so vital and it was with great pride that I saw the hard work of everyone within the commission rising to meet the demands of this year. With the challenges of 2019–20 by no means over, we will continue to develop and adapt to support the changing needs of Victorians.
Chief Executive Officer