Benchmarking customer priorities and trust in the energy sector: RACE CRC

The evolution towards a clean energy future in Australia over the past 20 years has often been contentious, divisive and politicised. This friction, combined with disruptions in the supply and price of energy, has eroded customer trust in the sector (Savage 2022). The erosion of public trust has also contributed to a disruptive and inconsistent approach to energy policy. A key determinant of the success of energy transition over the next decade will be the degree of confidence that customers have that this transition will serve and protect their interests. This requires a clear appreciation of both what customers see as their interests in this context, and the extent to which customers trust the energy sector and government to serve these interests.

This project answered the following questions:

  1. What are customers’ priorities for their energy system?
  2. What are customers’ current trust levels in the energy system?
  3. Who are the key actors in the energy system that play a key role in building trust?
  4. Where are the leverage points in the energy system that can build trust (and reduce distrust)?

Why is this important?

As part of the clean energy transition, the energy sector needs to transition to a shared value mindset that involves active collaboration with customers. This is required because not only is customer-owned equipment becoming more integrated with the energy system (through solar PV, batteries, appliance demand response and electric vehicles), but optimisation of the energy system will involve changes in how these “customer energy resources” are optimised and controlled. Such optimisation and control may be direct via technology or mediated via information, incentives and prices. These changes in control will require strong levels of trust between customers and utilities.

To minimise energy system costs and maximise customer benefits, we need to understand what customers’ priorities are for the energy system (and where they see themselves in it) and their trusts and distrusts within the energy sector. Understanding trust in the energy sector as a complex system can help identify how systems change can deliver better energy policy, program, and consumer outcomes.

What we did

This research used several complementary methods, including:

  • desktop research,
  • participatory workshops on energy customers’ priorities and trust (two with industry stakeholders and two with customers),
  • a customer survey on trust and customer priorities and;
  • a systems map of leverage points.

This project produced a final report and presentation that synthesised the evidence and consultation process, including a review of existing evidence on customers’ priorities and causes and effects of trust in the energy system, the role of key actors in building trust, identification of customer priorities in the energy sector, and places in the system that can be leveraged to strengthen trust. This research provides recommendations for energy policy and programs that generate measurable, positive customer outcomes.

For more information about this project please email

Funding / Grants

  • RACE CRC and Consortia

Chief Investigators


Other Team Members

QUT Research Associates
  • Natalie Bowring
  • Lucas Whittaker
  • Aleksandra van Hummel


Other Partners

Funding Partners

  • Brighte
  • Western Power
  • Ausgrid
  • QUT
  • WA Government (travel grant)