Bill simulator gives water customers a say on what they pay


06.06.2017


Households across Melbourne’s south east will have a unique opportunity to help shape their water bills over the next five years with the launch of South East Water’s bill simulator: sew.budgetsimulator.com

Customers can log on to the simulator and make choices about which initiatives and services could be reduced, kept or enhanced to deliver better value. Choices relate to investment in service reliability, sustainability, customer service and affordability.

The simulator adjusts bill amounts based on each selection the customer makes, enabling them to make more informed choices based about what’s important to them, and the price they are willing to pay. While current water bills won’t be affected, the simulator will play an important role in shaping South East Water’s price submission for the 2018-23 period, and will put customers at the centre of ongoing planning decisions.

Data from the simulator will be aggregated and used by the utility to plan investment and service delivery priorities, and the amount customers will pay through their bills to fund them.

Thousands of customers have already provided input into South East Water’s 2018-23 price submission through surveys, focus groups, online forums, and social media. Emerging themes include investment in environmental initiatives, support for customers struggling to pay, and fault response times, each of which are reflected in the simulator’s design.

“I’d like to see more encouragement to save water as was done during the drought years,” said Sandra from Bentleigh East. “I still see people hosing down their driveways and paths. Melbourne doesn't get as much water through rain as it did in the past. We shouldn't be wasting this precious commodity.”

Bridie from Clayton indicated the need for more information on water usage in bills.

“I would like to see more of a breakdown of when we use our water. I can see how much we use over a three-month period at the moment on our bill, but I would love to have finer detail than that to get a better idea about where we can reduce our water usage,” she said.

South East Water Acting Customer General Manager Sharon Robinson said the simulator would give South East Water important line-of-sight between what customers expect, and what they are prepared to pay for.

“Customers have made it clear what they value most from their water utility. Now they can help us direct our focus based on their willingness to pay or save on their water bills,” said Ms Robinson.

“The end result will be a price submission and ongoing plan that aligns to customer expectations while ensuring our water and sewerage services remain effective and affordable.”

Customers will have until 20 June to have their say via the bill simulator, however ongoing input will continue to be sought at yoursay.southeastwater.com.au. South East Water will submit its 2018-23 price submission to the Essential Services Commission in September.