Our gas distribution network
We own and operate one of 3 gas distribution businesses in Victoria. Our 11,000km gas distribution network covers an area of more than 60,000 square kilometres in western Melbourne, Geelong and parts of western Victoria. We deliver gas to 780,000 homes, businesses, hospitals, schools and other facilities. Your gas distributor is assigned to you depending on the area where you live.
Our responsibilities in gas distribution include managing the reliability of your supply (and the frequency and duration of gas outages), gas pipeline safety (up to your meter), metering services and connecting newly-built properties to the gas network.
Gas is an important part of the energy mix in Victoria. Victorians rely on gas more than any other state. More than 4 out of 5 Victorian homes are connected to gas, and the gas networks currently provide more energy than electricity networks. Our customers use gas primarily for cooking, heating, hot water and/or a range of industrial processes.
Gas Access Arrangement Review (GAAR) 2018-22
The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) is responsible for regulating gas distribution networks via a national framework. We are regulated on 5-year cycles through a process known as a Gas Access Arrangement Review (GAAR).
Through the GAAR, we work closely with our customers, other stakeholders and the AER to develop plans for our network. These plans outline the services we will offer customers, the costs to deliver those services, and the plan for how we will use money collected via the distribution charge on customers’ bills.
Customer and stakeholder engagement is central to the Access Arrangement process.
The objective of our GAAR 2018-22 engagement program was to deliver authentic, customer priority-driven engagement that would meet stakeholders’ expectations and inform the development of our proposal and business planning.
Our GAAR 2018-22 Engagement Activities
We engaged extensively with customers and other stakeholders throughout the development of our GAAR 2018-22 proposal to understand their needs and expectations of our network, and ensure they were reflected in our plan.
Activities undertaken included:
- Customer focus groups - Five focus groups were conducted with customers in regional and metropolitan areas within the AusNet gas network. The sample of participants was structured to ensure representation across a range of age groups and life stages. An advantage of focus groups was that they allowed complex concepts and industry language to be clarified through the use of two-way dialogue and stimulus boards. This ensured that participants were able to provide meaningful feedback.
- Qualitative exploratory online surveys - this section of the engagement program used a cross sectional design to assist AusNet in better understanding gas customer perceptions. The purpose of this study was to test and validate the findings from the focus groups. To do this, an online survey was conducted with customers from the AusNet Services’ gas network. A total of 620 participants were recruited for the study.
- In-depth customer advocate workshops – in this section of the program we ran a customer advocate workshop. The purpose of the workshop - representing a range of customer and stakeholder groups - was to inform and seek validation from customer advocates on the insights gleaned from the workshops and survey and gather customer advocates’ thoughts on how these customer insights could be used to inform the AusNet key business decisions for the gas network. The workshop was run by an external facilitator to maintain independence and included a number of AusNet Services’ subject matter experts present to assist in explaining theoretical concepts and to answer any questions.
- Interviews with other stakeholders - The final study was designed to engage with stakeholders operating within the gas network area who are not necessarily end-users of our service (ie. Residential customers). We considered it important to capture the views and gas-related needs, wants and perceptions of both small to medium and industrial customers. This part of the engagement included focus groups with the small to medium businesses and one-on-one discussions with industrial customers, local councils and land developers, ensuring the sample of participants was structured to ensure representation across a range of business types and sizes
To find out more about the GAAR process and to view our proposals and arrangements for the current access period, please refer to the AER website Gas Access Arrangement (2018 - 2022). Note that this access arrangement was extended by 6 months by the AER and will now expire on 30 June 2023, original period was from 1 January 2018 to 31 December 2022.
We are currently preparing plans for the GAAR 23-28 regulatory period. The Gas distribution charges page on the Ausnet website has more details about this process and our engagement activities.