Stakeholders
Community
engagement

Work side by side with local communities to develop mutually beneficial energy projects.

FY18 targetFY18 performanceStatus

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.

Target met

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
FY19 target

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.

How we engage with the community

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:

  • holding regular Community Consultative Committee (CCC) or Community Dialogue Group (CDG) meetings in many of our project areas
  • sharing information about our assets, and being available to answer questions on our 24-hour community complaints and feedback hotline and in the community
  • hosting community events and site tours
  • holding public information sessions
  • undertaking regular letter box drops to inform local residents of our activities, and
  • publishing electronic newsletters and community updates in local newspapers, on social media and on our website.

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.

Site

Number of events
held in FY18

AGL Loy Yang

35

AGL Macquarie

9

AGL Torrens

22

Broken Hill Solar Plant

4

Camden Gas Project

6

Coopers Gap Wind Farm Project

11

Crib Point

36

Hallett wind farms

6

Hydro power stations (combined)

7

Macarthur Wind Farm

8

Newcastle Gas Storage Facility

6

Nyngan Solar Plant

6

Oaklands Hill Wind Farm

5

Silver Springs Gas Storage / Wallumbilla LPG Plant

4

Silverton Wind Farm

8

Wattle Point Wind Farm

5

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.

Key issues of importance to communities over FY18

We set out below some of the key issues about which we have engaged with local communities during FY18.

Energy transition

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.

Review of air emissions from coal-fired power plants

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.

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) import jetty at Crib Point

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.

Leaving a positive legacy

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.

Supporting the community through strategic partnerships

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).

  • The Smith Family: Sharing the belief that education has the power to transform lives and break the cycle of disadvantage, over FY18 we:
    • supported the education of 340 school-aged children from disadvantaged backgrounds through The Smith Family’s Learning for Life program
    • contributed nearly $220,000 to The Smith Family under our partnership agreement, and
    • provided the opportunity for our people to support The Smith Family by volunteering their time to mentor students through the iTrack mentor program.
  • St Vincent de Paul Society: St Vincent de Paul Society’s home visitation program delivers financial and non-financial support to families in need. As well as providing financial support to this program, together with St Vincent de Paul we developed 'Energy Advice Packs6 containing information and advice for households about available support, retailer hardship programs and simple tips to save energy around the home. In FY18, we contributed over $350,000 to St Vincent de Paul Society under this partnership agreement.
  • Cancer Council Australia: Responding to unforeseen situations like a cancer diagnosis can affect the financial position of many households. Over FY18 we continued to provide funding for Cancer Council Australia’s Financial Assistance Program, which provides grants to families affected by cancer to help cover necessary living costs. In FY18, we contributed $27,500 to Cancer Council Australia under this partnership agreement.

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.

  • Julian Burton Burns Trust: Recognising that scalding from hot water is one of the most common causes of burn injury in the home, we continued our partnership with the Julian Burton Burns Trust over FY18 to support burn prevention and education through South Australia’s BurnSafe Schools Program. In FY18, we contributed $19,250 to Julian Burton Burns Trust under this partnership agreement.

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:

  1. AGL will continue to support The Smith Family due to the strategic alignment between AGL’s work in social and economic inclusion and The Smith Family’s work in breaking the cycle of poverty through improving educational outcomes for young people.
  2. AGL will operate the Powering our Community Solar Fund from FY19. Under this new initiative, AGL employees will be able to nominate local community groups to receive an AGL-donated and installed solar system. An employee-based committee will select the most worthy entries based upon their contribution to social and economic inclusion. By directing funds to this initiative, AGL will be able to maximise local community engagement and encourage employee support for local community organisations.

Employee contributions to local communities

Employee volunteering

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. 

Employee Giving and fundraising

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.

Economic contributions to local communities

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.

Related information

  1. 1. Given the relatively close proximity of AGL’s hydroelectric schemes to each other, these sites are together considered as a single site for the purposes of meeting this target.
  2. 2. This target applies to operational/development sites located within a distance of 5km, by road, of a residential community comprising at least 250 people, excluding operating facilities that generate less than 0.1 TWh/pa (based on FY17 generation figures). Notwithstanding the above restrictions, this target also applies to AGL Macquarie, Newcastle Gas Storage Facility, Silverton Wind Farm and Coopers Gap Wind Farm.
  3. 3. Given the relatively close proximity of AGL’s hydroelectric schemes to each other, these sites are together considered as a single site for the purposes of meeting this target.
  4. 4. This target applies to operational/development sites located within a distance of 5km, by road, of a residential community comprising at least 250 people, excluding operating facilities that generate less than 0.1 TWh/pa (based on FY18 generation figures). Notwithstanding the above restrictions, this target also applies to AGL Macquarie, Newcastle Gas Storage Facility, Silverton Wind Farm and Coopers Gap Wind Farm.
  5. 5. The Dalton Power Project was not considered to be an operational or development site for the purposes of this target because we withdrew our application to extend the approval we had received in relation to this Project in response to community concerns. Similarly, the Gloucester Gas Project was not included in the target this year because we announced in February 2016 that we would not proceed with the Gloucester Gas Project, following which we are rolling out an extensive decommissioning and rehabilitation program for the well sites and other infrastructure.
  6. 6. Energy Advice Packs are updated periodically. Visit the The Hub for the most recent version of the packs.
  7. 7. These charity partners are Australian Marine Wildlife Research and Rescue Organisation; beyondblue; Cancer Council Australia; CARE Australia; Julian Burton Burns Trust; RSPCA; St Vincent de Paul; The Salvation Army; The Smith Family; Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service; White Ribbon Australia; and WWF-Australia.
  8. 8. Until FY12, AGL was a member of the London Benchmarking Group (Australia and New Zealand) (LBG) and used the LBG model to value community contribution. Since FY12, AGL has continued to use the methodology from FY11 to allow comparability and trend analysis.