Delivering Energy Made Easy
- A simplified, transformed user experience
- Improved resilience in high traffic periods
- Extensible services
- A multilingual offering
- Improved accessibility
Operated by the AER, Energy Made Easy (EME) is a free Australian Government energy price comparison service for households and small businesses in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory, that helps residential and small business energy consumers to navigate the often complex electricity and gas retail markets to find a suitable energy offer.
The energy market is rapidly evolving. With the introduction of smart meters, the rise of solar, virtual power plants, and frequent new entrants into the market, EME must continually enhance its offering to remain a viable and trusted independent service.
The AER has a statutory obligation under the National Energy Retail Law (NERL) to develop and operate an online price comparator tool to assist small customers to compare energy plans available to them. To fulfil this obligation, the AER developed the price comparison web based service, Energy Made Easy, which has been in operation since 1 July 2012.
EME is the government’s primary tool to educate consumers and provide them with the information they need to make an informed decision about the energy plan that is most affordable and best suits their needs. Australia’s energy market is in a state of transition and changes to the regulatory framework, combined with advancements in technology, are driving the development of new and innovative retail energy products and services and further empowering consumers in the process. Energy affordability has also become a real issue for many consumers and one that is occupying much political attention.
In light of this the AER, and the Government, have recognised that EME needed to be transformed and optimised to continue to be fit for purpose. This would ensure that consumers continue to have the best tools and information they need to make informed choices about their energy products and services.
The Government committed funding to enable the AER to optimise EME so that it can incorporate the broad range of energy products and services that now exist and are likely to be developed in the foreseeable future.
Key problem areas
Energy products and services are becoming increasingly complex but at the same time, innovation and technology is empowering consumers and enabling them to save money by managing their energy consumption more efficiently. The existing EME service did not support some new energy tariff types and categories of fees, charges and incentives. It also did not support consumer data uploads (from an electricity smart meter data file) so highly granular data for a user’s specific energy consumption could not be used in estimate calculations. This could result in overly conservative price estimates for comparison that are therefore not as accurate as they could be.
The EME service needed to be improved to provide better information and more accurate energy plan comparisons by:
- Enabling the calculation of more accurate price estimates that can factor in the increased complexity in product offerings. For example, flexible tariff structures and pricing, solar feed-in and demand charges.
- Enabling users to upload their energy consumption data to receive tailored price estimates for comparison
- Enabling users to more easily provide data from recent energy bills to receive tailored price estimates for comparison
- Enabling authorised users to interact with the service in an automated way i.e. via APIs
Energy Made Easy engaged DigIO to partner with its team on the construction of a new public interface and retailer interface. DigIO led the initial stages through application design and experience, while Eliiza’s Machine Learning capabilities were leveraged to establish a bill scanning function. CMD Solutions is now engaged on the project to provide a Managed Service, with DigIO an ongoing key partner for necessary enhancements. Features included:
- Ability for consumers to search for energy plans using their energy meter data or by uploading a bill
Retailer solar feed-in credits can now be included in estimated plan costs in a new redeveloped pricing algorithm
- Full website translation into 33 different languages
- Energy content for consumer users to support them in getting energy smart and controlling costs, including calculators and other useful resources
- Redesigned portal for energy retailers to upload and manage their energy plans through the system’s workflow (including publishing and expiring offers)
- Portal features such as export of plan data, pricing and PDFs
- New content management system for admin users to update content on both the consumer website and retailer portal
- Administration functions such as managing users and reference data for plans
- A transformed user experience – intuitive, attractive design, with three different ways for consumers to provide their energy usage data in seconds; more efficient and robust data uploads for retailers, thereby easing the previous burden and data quality risks
- Improved resilience – in high traffic periods
- Extensibility – the ability to evolve the service in line with market changes
- Multilingual offering – ensuring no consumer is left behind.
- Accessibility – improved compatibility across browsers, a suite of accessible and inclusive design and functionality improvements, etc.
- DigIO has supported Energy Made Easy to function according to its name, providing a simple, trusted service to the public while building stronger relationships with energy retailers by simplifying the regulatory burden of data transparency.