Hello and welcome to today’s special conversation featuring CEO of the Australian Furniture Association, Patrizia Torelli and our latest partner, Energy Action.

Energy Action is a Climate Active energy partner who has helped more than 7000 Australian businesses with energy savings and push towards a Net Zero tomorrow.

Energy Action have partnered with the Australian Furniture Association to help our members take control of our energy needs and navigate their journey towards Net Zero at least cost.

Recent Australian Furniture Association research indicates that energy costs and embodied carbon are two of the most important issues facing our members.

And as one of the largest providers in the sector, with access to many retailers, Energy Action is best equipped to assist our members with these challenges.

So please welcome Patrizia Torelli and CEO and Director of Energy Action – Bruce MacFarlane.

PATRIZIA TORELLI QUESTION: Bruce, thank you for your time. The AFA represents thousands of businesses in the Australian furniture and furnishing supply chains. The surging price of energy, energy efficiency and the push to lower carbon emissions are front and centre for our members. Can you please provide a brief overview of how Energy Action can assist our members with energy bills?


BRUCE MACFARLANE ANSWER: Thanks Patrizia. Energy Action is Australia’s largest business energy broker. We help businesses buy their energy and then how they manage their energy. If a business wants to run a competitive process to find an energy supplier that’s where we can help them.


PATRIZIA TORELLI QUESTION: Excellent. I want to touch on what is negotiable on a power bill.


BRUCE MACFARLANE ANSWER: For larger customers the energy charges can be negotiated. While network services, the pipes and wires delivering gas and electricity to us, are a monopoly and regulated service. The energy part of the bill – that’s the kWh or GJ charges for the electricity and gas we use – can be negotiated.


PATRIZIA TORELLI QUESTION: Many of our members are small to medium sized enterprises, do you have lock-in contracts?


BRUCE MACFARLANE ANSWER: Absolutely. It’s a way for your members to attract offers from retailers that will probably be better than the non-contract offers they might otherwise be on with a retailer.


PATRIZIA TORELLI QUESTION: And what are the ‘default rates’?


BRUCE MACFARLANE ANSWER: Default rates are the rates that you’ll pay if you don’t renew or renegotiate your electricity and gas contract. They’re usually 2 to 3 times the rate you’d pay if you had arranged an energy contract. And we’ve got some of the major retailer default rates on our website.


PATRIZIA TORELLI QUESTION: So just to clarify. Energy Action can assist AFA members with Energy Charges, Metring and Other Charges, Environmental Charges and Network charges?


BRUCE MACFARLANE ANSWER: Energy Action can. For energy charges, we run procurement process like our reverse auction to drive down prices with competition. For metering we can help arrange great providers at competitive prices, and for the other charges like network and environmental, we check bills to make sure the charges are right.


PATRIZIA TORELLI QUESTION: Okay, let’s talk about some terms and definitions. What is a tariff?


BRUCE MACFARLANE ANSWER: The tariff is the amount you are charged for the energy you use. Tariffs vary dependent on who your energy retailer is and which contract you are under.  Tariffs include both fixed and variable charges.


PATRIZIA TORELLI QUESTION: What is a fixed charge?


BRUCE MACFARLANE ANSWER: The fixed charge is not based on how much energy you use. It’s a separate line item on your bill, and is things like the ‘daily supply charge, metering charge’ or ‘service to property’ charge. It can be displayed as a daily rate on your bill (e.g. in ‘cents per day’), but may appear as a single figure for a billing period.


PATRIZIA TORELLI QUESTION: What is a variable charge?


BRUCE MACFARLANE ANSWER: The variable charge or ‘consumption charge’ is the amount you pay for each unit of electricity and gas you use. It is listed on your bill as cents per kilowatt hour (c/kWh) for electricity and cents per megajoule (c/MJ) for gas.


PATRIZIA TORELLI QUESTION: And finally, what is ‘power factor’?


BRUCE MACFARLANE ANSWER: Power Factor is an electricity term, and a ratio of the Real Power (kW) or energy, and the Apparent Power (kVA) which I like to call the grunt or ompf to get machines moving.


It’s important because sometimes there’s an opportunity to reduce costs by getting that power facto ratio close to 1 – usually by installing power factor correction equipment.


For our customers we look to see if something can be done to make the power factor better.


PATRIZIA TORELLI QUESTION: Okay, let’s move onto Net Zero. What is Net Zero and why is it important for our members?


BRUCE MACFARLANE ANSWER: Great question because Energy Action is a certified by Climate Active, a government body, as being Net Zero. What it means is that our business produces no net emissions. We’ve done that by firstly understanding and measuring our emissions across, energy (the big emissions source for us), and other things like travel, waste, and office supplies. Then we greened what we could by buying green energy. And lastly, we offset what we couldn’t buy as a ‘net zero’ product.


I wanted Energy Action to get to Net Zero certification so we had that lived experience and can help businesses that want to get there by showing them the practical steps we took.


PATRIZIA TORELLI QUESTION: What are the steps that our members can take towards Net Zero and how can Energy Action help our members?


BRUCE MACFARLANE ANSWER: Depending on their emissions profile – is it big or something modest like Energy Action’s there’s two approaches. Both start with measuring your energy usage and emissions sources – that’s something our technology can help with. For smaller emitters it’s pretty straightforward – make some choices around green power, solar PV, or energy efficiency measures. For bigger emitters, because the dollar values are bigger Energy Action usually writes a strategy for them so they can balance timelines and cost.


PATRIZIA TORELLI QUESTION: Do you have any real-life examples of this in practice?


BRUCE MACFARLANE ANSWER:  Real word, firsthand experiences are download for free from our website.  We’re writing up some case studies now so will include those in AFA’s electronic newsletter.


PATRIZIA TORELLI QUESTION: Fantastic, if members wish to reach out to Energy Action how can they do it?


BRUCE MACFARLANE ANSWER: The webform on our webpage is the simplest way or you can call our 1300 number, 1300 553 551



Patrizia of the AFA and Bruce Macfarlane of Energy Action thank you for your time.


To learn more visit Energy Action.