Our entries this year cover the installation of battery-storage technology on our network, running a successful community trial using alternative energy, managing the cost pressures in areas of remote generation, improving the experience for work initiated by major customers, and the development of modular products.

This year's entries reflect the great team effort employees have made to deliver a sustainable future for the company as we meet the challenges of the industry while continuing to put downward pressure on electricity prices.

We operate in a very dynamic environment where affordability is a concern, and where the growth in alternative energy technology is matched by our customers' expectations.

It is initiatives such as these that are setting a firm foundation for the development of our expenditure proposals for 2015 to 2020 to be submitted to the Australian Energy Regulator in October 2014.

 Innovation coverThe Excellence in Innovation category entry follows our decision, after 14 months of product and business case development, to green light battery-based systems called Grid Utility Support Systems (GUSS) on sections of our distribution network.  Battery storage technology is increasingly being used in alternative energy sectors but this is a network-scale application.  

GUSS will see new energy storage technology solving capacity, reliability and quality issues, working by charging batteries at times of low load and low network stress, then using this stored energy and smart power electronics to support the network when needed.  GUSS removes the need for more traditional forms of network augmentation, offering a timely and cost-effective way of solving network issues.

We know that traditional augmentation can cost millions, but GUSS can be far more cost effective, enabling downward pressure on electricity prices, and providing around 25 per cent cost savings over traditional network augmentation.

Energy Sense cover Ergon's second entry in the Excellence in Performance category showcases the Townsville-based Energy Sense Communities (ESC) program which ran from 2011 to mid-2014 and successfully changed the way this company plans, builds and manages the network.

ESC was actually an integrated program of 33 initiatives all aimed at deferring capital investment, trialling alternative energy solutions, and better managing electricity demand. 

It significantly improved the economic outcome for customers and the state of Queensland, by achieving above the targeted deferral for capital investment, leading to cost-effective network outcomes.

Leadership cover

Ergon is vying for the Premier's Excellence in Leadership category through the achievements of the transformation carried out with the costs of operating its 33 power stations. Our power stations are predominantly located in remote communities and, as a result of the significant risks and logistics associated with delivering these services, are subject to extraordinary cost pressures.

The Isolated Systems team recognised that the escalating cost of the Customer Service Obligation (CSO) – the shortfall between electricity revenue and cost of supply that is met by the Queensland Government – needed to be addressed. 

Through excellence in leadership, the subsequent transformation which included an organisational restructure and realignment of objectives and processes was an outstanding success.

It was pleasing to see that the rising CSO for the isolated system has not only been halted, but significantly reduced. A great result indeed.

Customer Cover

Our fourth entry for excellence in Customer Focus comes from our specialist Energy Solutions division that has revolutionised the factory-built infrastructure industry with the introduction of breakthrough transportable concrete base technology.

Our customers experience conflicting drivers in their businesses, including increasing pressure to reduce project capital cost while recognising the need for higher performance infrastructure solutions. To address our customers' needs, the team investigated new materials and technologies which have significantly changed the way transportable buildings are fabricated, resulting in the innovative use of pre-stressed concrete technology to replace the standard steel base.

The benefits include reduced cost and scalable capital outlay, improved quality and standardisation, as well as reduced project delivery timeframes to minimise customer impacts. 

Ergon Energy's breakthrough transportable concrete base technology provides flexibility, reduces base costs by around 55 per cent per unit and speeds up project completion for customers.

Integrity cover Our fifth entry in the Integrity and Accountability category showcases the improvements to customer experience with Customer Initiated Capital Works (CICW) programs. The CICW – Improving the Customer Experience initiative was designed to positively improve works delivery, the customer experience, and our relationships with property developers.

Ergon Energy has a strategic direction of effective market and efficient service, and this initiative was well aligned to that strategy.  We established a developer forum, changed internal processes and procedures, and put in place formal customer commitments through a new customer charter for property developers. 

Success was achieved through prudent policies, standards and practices, ensuring a balanced social and commercial outcome for the corporation, shareholders, developers, and Queensland energy consumers. 

Customers now experience reduced costs, lower prudential requirements as well as shorter time frames from contract to construction, with a current connection cycle time of 128 days - down from the 2010-11 high of 218 days. 

This has been a fine example of economic enablement.

Ergon Energy's commitment to our customers is to deliver 'Peace of Mind, Choice and Control for the Best Possible Price' and we will achieve this by creating an effective market and delivering efficient services.  Win or not, our entries this year in the customer service, business excellence, innovation, performance, and leadership categories is recognition in itself of the achievements by Ergon Energy's talented teams and individuals  - as we operate as prudently, and commercially responsibly as possible.

Nominations for the 2014 Premier's Awards for Excellence have closed.  Finalists will be announced in November, and an awards ceremony will be held on Monday 8 December, 2014.