Melbourne Water 2021 price submission
RPS has worked with Melbourne Water to facilitate an improved community engagement and feedback process for their 2021-2026 price submission.
Melbourne Water’s wholesale water supply and sewerage services are paid for by Melbourne’s water retail water businesses, who in turn provide services to households and businesses. The price that customers pay for these important services is reviewed every five years by the Essential Services Commission (ESC).
The ESC has a customer-focused approach to water pricing which places a real emphasis on meaningful customer engagement to inform and influence price submissions. Meeting the ESC’s guidance and Melbourne Water’s own commitments to putting customers front and centre requires Melbourne Water to work with customers to define outcome statements reflecting their concerns, priorities and preferences.
Melbourne Water’s engagement program for the 2021 Price Submission committed to deepening, strengthening and enhancing relationships with its customers and community, with a particular focus on retail water businesses.
RPS was engaged to facilitate the key forum for engagement with retail water businesses – the Water and Sewerage Customer Council. The Council was established to provide a dedicated customer forum to test strategic ideas, seek preference and provide advice on key issues, opportunities and focus areas to support the price submission. lt comprised senior representatives from six retail water businesses including Yarra Valley Water, City West Water, South East Water, Western Water, Barwon Water and South Gippsland Water.
RPS initially worked with Melbourne Water and the Council to establish the governance arrangements for the group, and facilitated the development of the Council’s purpose, and principles and process for decision making. Throughout 2019 and 2020, we facilitated 16 formal Council meetings and a series of informal workshops. We assisted the Council to form its feedback and align on key inputs to the price submission including focus areas for the Council, customer outcomes and expectations. This culminated in the development of a comprehensive response to Melbourne Water’s draft submission and a final statement to support the final submission to the ESC.
RPS also provided support to Melbourne Water to collate the overarching engagement summary for the extensive two-year Price Submission engagement program, including preparing infographics.
During early engagement for the Price Submission, the water retail businesses indicated they would like more collaboration with Melbourne Water and the opportunity to proactively address shared challenges and risks.
At the conclusion of the process, Council members said they were grateful for the professional and open manner in which Melbourne Water and RPS conducted the process, noting it was a good start towards building an ongoing, meaningful relationship.