Work side by side with local communities to develop mutually beneficial energy projects.
|FY18 target||FY18 performance||Status|
AGL will host at least four community events for each operational/development site1 to allow for community views to be raised and discussed in public2.
At least four events were held at each site, as detailed in the table in the Community engagement section.
Employee Volunteering participation rate of AGL's Enterprise Leadership Team: 90% (head count basis).
Employee Volunteering participation rate of AGL's Enterprise Leadership Team: 68% (head count basis)
|Target not met|
AGL will host at least four community events for each operational/development site3 to allow for community views to be raised and discussed in public4.
We strive to make a net positive social, economic and environmental contribution to the communities in which we operate.
Our aim is to be a trusted and respected member of the community.
After implementing a new Community Engagement Policy in FY17, we continued to prioritise improving our approach to community engagement throughout FY18, commencing the implementation of a community engagement standard and completing the deployment of a consistent community complaints and feedback process. This process ensures that community members receive timely and transparent responses to complaints regarding AGL assets and operations. The standard aims to ensure that AGL responds to and addresses issues quickly, harnesses insights, anticipates future issues and that the process for complainants is simple. AGL’s complaints framework was reviewed and endorsed by the National Windfarm Commissioner and other state-based agencies and regulatory bodies.
As we seek to continuously improve the impact of our engagement, the staged implementation of a community engagement standard is supporting the delivery of consistent practices across AGL’s diverse portfolio of physical assets.
We prioritise open, transparent, and honest communication and engagement with local communities through a range of different channels including:
During FY18 we set ourselves a target to host at least four community events at each operational or development site to allow for community views to be raised and discussed in public. We met this target, as outlined in the table below 5.
Number of events
AGL Loy Yang
Broken Hill Solar Plant
Camden Gas Project
Coopers Gap Wind Farm Project
Hallett wind farms
Hydro power stations (combined)
Macarthur Wind Farm
Newcastle Gas Storage Facility
Nyngan Solar Plant
Oaklands Hill Wind Farm
Silver Springs Gas Storage / Wallumbilla LPG Plant
Silverton Wind Farm
Wattle Point Wind Farm
Another important area of engagement that gained focus in FY18 has been in the area of indigenous engagement. The AGL Indigenous Engagement Working Group formed in FY17 for purposes including increasing awareness and appreciation of indigenous culture across AGL, and creating a sense of inclusion and cultural safety for indigenous employees and employees interested in indigenous affairs. The Working Group has been responsible for managing activities and significant events across AGL celebrating indigenous culture and history such as National Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week. This has involved engagement by the Working Group with indigenous elders about the most appropriate ways in which to do this. This has extended to AGL’s sponsorship of Aboriginal football and netball carnivals in South Australia in partnership with the Kaurna and Narrunga communities.
It is our intention to formalise our approach to indigenous engagement in FY19 through the development of a Reconciliation Action Plan. This will constitute a business plan which will inform our stakeholders and shareholders of AGL’s long-term commitment and contribution to indigenous reconciliation.
We set out below some of the key issues about which we have engaged with local communities during FY18.
It is important that as the energy system transitions to new, more sustainable technologies, the communities involved in carbon-intensive energy generation are supported to diversify into new sources of prosperity and opportunity.
In Victoria, the sudden closure of the Hazelwood power station brought to an end significant sources of employment in the area. AGL joined the Victorian Government’s Hazelwood Worker Transition Scheme to create opportunities for skilled workers to apply for roles at AGL’s Loy Yang mine and Loy Yang A Power Station. AGL is also supporting collaborative efforts with local partners from the academic, business and not-for-profit sectors to further develop the region’s skill base and help diversify the Latrobe Valley’s economy.
Some of these projects include our Collaboration Agreement with Federation University which saw the establishment of an Enterprise Development Program. This program allowed suppliers and small businesses affected by the closure of the Hazelwood power station the opportunity to take part in a five-day business course through Federation University aimed at helping these businesses grow and diversify.
AGL has also partnered with Landcare to deliver a Managing Sustainable Farms using STEM pilot program. This program is designed to introduce high school students in years 7 to 10 to sustainable land management and the ways that science, technology, engineering and maths are used to run a profitable farming enterprise.
In the Hunter Valley, AGL continued to support the Hunter Energy Transition Alliance in FY18, in partnership with the University of Newcastle, local and state government partners. The Alliance supports research and collaboration on achieving economic diversification to mitigate negative social impacts of the energy transition on local Hunter Valley communities. The Alliance will assist with AGL’s assessment of expressions of interest received as part of the Liddell Innovation Project. Refer to the Power station transition and closure section for more information.
Environmental regulators in both New South Wales and Victoria commenced reviews of air emissions from coal-fired power stations during FY18. In New South Wales the EPA is conducting a review of existing air pollutant regulatory requirements, emission monitoring and estimation, and reporting practices for the State's coal-fired electricity generation sector.
In Victoria, the EPA is conducting a licence review of coal-fired power stations and examining whether new limits for oxides of nitrogen (NOx), sulphur dioxide (SO2), carbon monoxide (CO), mercury (Hg), coarse particles (PM10) and fine particles should be imposed.
AGL has upgraded its own monitoring systems across its coal-generation fleet to install Continuous Emissions Monitoring System technology, ensuring accurate data is available to inform these processes, and improve monitoring and reporting.
Through both reviews, AGL has sought to engage openly with interested community stakeholders, and will continue to participate constructively in these regulatory processes to ensure emissions limits are appropriate and that the industry meets or exceeds environmental standards.
AGL is progressing plans for an LNG import jetty at Crib Point in Victoria. We have engaged with local residents and interest groups since the announcement of Crib Point as the preferred location to ascertain the sentiment of the local community towards the project and to identify issues of concern with the proposed development.
Community consultation sessions included regular project presentations, community drop-in sessions and public meetings, with individual project briefings provided to 24 local community groups. AGL has incorporated community views into our planning, for example, background noise monitoring has been extended to French Island and additional mainland areas following suggestions from the community to this effect.
Further, AGL published draft environmental assessment reports on the project website before they were finalised. Community members, environmental groups and science-based research organisations were invited to provide feedback on the reports in advance of submission. AGL is also funding an independent peer-review of technical work being organised through Balnarring residents, and has invited Westernport and Peninsula Protection Council, and Save Western Port, to participate.
As in all areas where AGL operates, community members are able to access discounted electricity and gas offers. Further, a community support fund has been approved to deliver benefits to local communities should the project proceed.
After announcing its intended departure from the Gloucester region in New South Wales, AGL established a $2 million Independent Community Legacy Fund to contribute to sustainable economic development, education, employment and social resilience in that region. The independent panel has now fully allocated the $2 million from the Fund to 12 successful applicants, supporting the establishment of more than 70 new full time equivalent roles and a STEM partnership program at the local high schools in the Gloucester region.
AGL’s corporate citizenship program, Energy for Life, is an important way in which we partner with the community. Established in 2003, Energy for Life supports the community through strategic partnerships, and gives our people the opportunity to get involved in causes they are passionate about by participating in matched workplace giving, fundraising, and paid volunteering leave programs.
AGL has invested more than $3 million over six years from 2012 in Energy for Life strategic partnerships.
Recognising that energy costs can be a cumulative financial stress to those in financial hardship, in FY12 we established three strategic partnerships with community organisations focusing on the areas of prevention and education; intervention, resource and capacity building; and crisis support. These partnerships complement ongoing commitments to addressing hardship through regulatory obligations, hardship programs such as Staying Connected and our overarching Affordability Initiative (refer to the Energy prices and affordability section of this report for more information).
In addition, as part of our commitment to promoting safety in the workplace and home, in FY12 we also established a partnership with the Julian Burton Burns Trust.
AGL’s six-year contracts with each of its strategic charity partners ended on 30 June 2018. Over the course of FY18 we undertook a review of our options for utilising Energy for Life funds in FY19 and beyond. Following the review, the decision was made that from FY19, Energy for Life would support two key initiatives:
AGL’s ‘Employee Volunteering’ program gives our people the opportunity to take one day of paid volunteering leave every year to support community causes and charitable organisations. As well as delivering social outcomes for the community, volunteering provides business benefits to AGL, by engaging our people, promoting teamwork and building morale.
Our people can take volunteering leave in a variety of ways, including getting involved in team projects, pursuing individual interests and participating in AGL-led initiatives. For example, in FY18 AGL Torrens staff worked with Conservation Volunteers Australia in two clean-ups at Torrens Island, resulting in the removal of 591 kilograms of marine debris. AGL Camden staff participated in the CleanUp Australia – Business CleanUp Day by cleaning up over two kilometres of roads. This resulted in the collection of 3m3 of waste for disposal or recycling.
Also in FY18, AGL’s Executive Team spent its volunteering day with Oz Harvest, creating 160 meals for people in need. In June 2018, AGL Executive General Manager Melissa Reynolds, and General Manager AGL Loy Yang Steve Rieniets, participated in the Vinnies CEO Sleepout, raising funds and awareness about homelessness in Australia.
We set ourselves a target for FY18 to achieve an Employee Volunteering participation rate of 90% among AGL's Enterprise Leadership Team (head count basis). Disappointingly, we fell short of this target, with 68% of the Executive Leadership team recording a volunteering leave day. It was encouraging, however, to see that overall employee participation rates increased from 16% in FY17 to 20% in FY18. We are proud that this represented 5,052 hours being given to the community by our people.
FY18 saw some exciting changes to AGL’s Employee Giving and fundraising program. In April 2018, AGL launched a new Employee Giving and fundraising program called Power to Give. This program allows AGL people to donate and fundraise for hundreds of charities on an online platform provided by GoodCompany.
This new system replaced AGL’s previous payroll-based employee giving system, which restricted employee donations to the twelve charity partners that AGL had until April 2018 7.
The objective of opening up AGL’s Employee Giving and fundraising program is to build advocacy and engagement with AGL employees, to empower employees to give to charities they are passionate about, and to show employees that AGL is a workplace that supports its people and the causes they are passionate about. Power to Give has received a positive reception from our people. In the first two months following its launch, AGL employees donated to 46 new charities.
AGL matches all donations up to $5,000 per employee per year. The Power to Give platform also enables AGL people to create their own fundraising pages to raise funds for charities on the GoodCompany platform, which AGL matches, up to $1,000 per fundraising page.
Prior to AGL moving to the Power to Give platform our Employee Giving participation rate was steady at 8.37%. The Power to Give platform is an 'opt in' program so while participation rates dropped to 5.7% at the end of FY18, this represented an increase since the platform was launched in April 2018 when the rate dropped to 4.6%. Donations through the Employee Giving program increased to over $228,600 in FY18 (including donations from our people and AGL's matched donations), up from $183,000 in FY17.
Donations from fundraising decreased in FY18 to $40,739 (which includes the amount matched by AGL) from $103,600 in FY17, due to AGL temporarily pausing company-wide fundraising events prior to the launch of the Power to Give platform. However, our people have demonstrated their interest in fundraising via the Power to Give platform so we expect donations from fundraising to increase again during FY19.
We invest in the communities in which we operate through local procurement, local employment opportunities, and a structured program of community investment. We recognise that these activities can assist communities to thrive, and we are committed to contributing to the ongoing success of these communities.
Our community investment activities encompass cash grants, contributions and in-kind support. Community investment priorities are determined through external community consultation, an understanding of the demographic profile and needs and aspirations of the communities in which we operate, operational project plans and identification of project-related and cumulative impacts.
We are evolving our community investment program with a strong focus on shared value outcomes, so that our investment responds to both community needs and aspirations and our strategic business direction. At both the Silverton and Coopers Gap projects, AGL is delivering an energy benefit to project neighbours by providing a solar PV system and water tank to interested neighbours within a reasonable distance of the project boundaries. We have also rolled out a community electricity and gas discount offer for all communities which host AGL assets.
Our community investment (including cash, volunteering and in-kind contributions) in FY18 has been valued8 at $4,282,555 comprising $3,870,390 in cash donations and $412,165 in time.
In addition to local energy benefits, we break down our community contribution according to the three specific program areas of AGL’s corporate citizenship program, Energy for Life. These specific program areas are employee volunteering, employee giving and strategic partnerships. We also provide financial support to the local communities in which we operate through AGL Community Funds, other local community initiatives, contributions arising from key retail and corporate sponsorships, and other charitable donations.
Visit the data centre for a breakdown of our community contributions by program area, charitable cause and motivation for investment.