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Aurora – Aurora+ App Costs

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Tags: Aurora

Dr WOODRUFF - I am checking that we're talking about the same thing. It was previously in 2019 at the last Estimates it was Pay As You Go Plus and now it's Aurora+. There was an annual cost of something like 11 cents a day. Is that still the cost of a person having the app? What is the annual revenue that Aurora gets from that - whatever the daily cost is of the app and any other associated costs of the app?

Mr BARNETT - Thank you, and it leads into what the CEO was saying about the price determination going to the economic regulator. It's directly relevant to that question so I will pass to the CEO.

Mrs KARDOS - You are correct, that we have for those customers who gain the benefits of Aurora+ our original strategy is that those customers who opted into Aurora+ will then incur a product service fee. Part of them opting in was agreeing to pay that product service fee of approximately 11 cents a day. The fee is about covering the use of the product's features, the SMS notifications and the ongoing enhancements and development of that product.

Since it's evolved from Pay As You Go Plus to Aurora+, it's no longer just a prepaid product, it's also a post-paid product. I will hand over to our Chief Product and Customer Officer who can outline some of the other development features. As to the specific costs, that's probably a very similar question that Mr Winter asked earlier, which I said I was happy to take on notice, if you're comfortable - in terms of the total cost.

Dr WOODRUFF - The question was about the revenue to Aurora Energy, not the cost to the customer.

Ms KARDOS - I can provide that on notice as well, if that's okay.

Mr CROZIER - Thank you. The product was originally designed for customers who had previously used the pay-as-you-go meters, but once we actually launched the product and had it in market, we quickly recognised that it had value that could go beyond that particular group of customers.

So, the initial focus was to support customers as we transitioned from old meters to new, and specifically around pay-as-you-go, but over the last couple of years we've worked really hard again. We're lucky that the product is designed and built here by people who really understand the needs of Tasmanians, because they all are Tasmanians themselves. We have made a number of extensions to the useability of the product, as Rebecca mentioned.

The original creation was a pay-as-you-go - so you can see your current credit balance within the app. It would let you know whenever you were going to hit zero. A number of customers who are used to paying on a quarterly or monthly cycle weren't really interested in that, so we developed a version of the application where people can choose to either have a pay-as-you-go screen interface, or choose to maintain it like you would whenever you're going to be let known when your next bill is coming up - linked to the support that we provide to the YES customers and customers who are in difficulty.

We also developed a specific version of the application for YES customers. YES customers get to use the app at no cost. So, if you're on the YES program you do have access to Aurora+ and you're not charged the fee.

But we also understand that some YES customers can have significant balances, and being able to see a live balance - which is ultimately what Aurora+ provides - can be quite confronting, so we also developed a version of the application which took that away, in order to remove some of that anxiety and stress.

We've since developed a version for business. One thing we've tried to do for businesses that is slightly different for residential is that we've developed a tool, or a capability within the app, which allows a customer to predict their bill. Again most businesses are more interested in retaining their cash for as long as they can and then paying their bill whenever it becomes due, but obviously understanding how much that bill is likely to be is something that is quite important to them. So, enabling the functionalities so that they can do that is something we've added.

Over the last couple of years, a big area of focus for us when it comes to product development has been those customers who need a little bit more help or support. An additional feature which we've developed is that the customer can request a payment extension through the app - so again, not having to call. They can just go in and click a button and request a couple of weeks' extension to their payments.

That's an example of some of the stuff we've already delivered. We do have some reasonably exciting things coming down the track shortly, again focused around the understanding we have demonstrated that Aurora+ has a big impact on customers, because of the monthly billing frequency, which takes away or reduces bill shock. Visibility of usage allows them to understand how they can actually make a difference to their electricity usage, which is ultimately what we charge them for.

We're trying to take that from where we have it at the moment, where we can talk to the customer about their usage on an hourly basis, which reflects both cost and time, to help them perhaps move their usage to times that are less expensive. We're looking to take that one stage further and provide insights to give them real actionable usage on what they're actually doing in their home, to again just give them additional power to do things to allow them to reduce the costs of the energy for themselves.