Energy Queensland – Copperleaf Implementation

Energy Queensland Asset Management Innovation Award Submission

  1. Executive Summary

Energy Queensland (EQL) own and operate the electrical distribution network across Queensland via two distributors, Energex and Ergon Energy.  Each have differing environmental influences, customer densities, travel distances, and network challenges. Pre-project the annual portfolio plan development process consisted of an array of spreadsheet analysis, Access databases, and justification documents as input to project management tools. This was manual, time consuming, and error prone.  For improved asset management the requirement was for agile scenario development, with work directly linked to risks for mitigation, volumes, expenditure and resource forecasts. An enterprise Asset Investment Planning Management solution and value framework was implemented.

  • Description of project and framework

About Energy Queensland

  • 100% owned by the Queensland government and maintains the majority of the electrical distribution network the length and bread of Queensland
  • Geographically have the largest network in Australia and one of the largest in the world
  • Connection and supply of electricity to 2.3 million customers
  • 35,000 GWh electricity delivered annually
  • 212,000 km of powerlines
  • 1.7 million power poles
  • Over $28 billion of network assets
  • Energex and Ergon Energy were merged under Energy Queensland in 2016 and each have separate and differently configured Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) systems

The Challenge

Pre-project portfolio investment planning, submission and approval was previously very challenging, using non-integrated systems and analysis to collate and compare many disparate spreadsheets, Access databases, justification documents and workflows. As a result it was challenging to produce a single scenario of work for the next 5 year period that addressed the highest network risks first, becoming extremely challenging to assess the impact of changes when they inevitably occurred, for example resource constraints due COVID-19, natural disasters or cyclones, bushfires, and flooding.  This highlighted the requirement for an agile approach for portfolio development and change management, that worked across several different data platforms and inputs.

Notably the solution needed consider:

  • A new EAM system to replace Energex and Ergon Energy’s individual EAMs was still being designed and implemented, meaning an AIPM solution had to work with both the current and future EAM designs.
  • The EAM rollout timeline added to the change management challenges for the project team and stakeholders.
  • The AIPM had to enable accurate development of detailed 7-10 year work plans, whilst also being sufficiently responsive to quickly re-plan for changes to inform executive decision making.
  • Update the rolling annual plans with strong governance of changes.
  • Provide the business with visibility of the strategic benefits and risks of a scenario of investments and compare with other scenarios. Asset Investment Planning being able to respond quickly to planning changes required due to unforeseen events such as COVID, cyclone, flooding, and bushfires.
  • Provide for an ability to report on risk semi-quantitatively as well as adapt to a full quantitative approach per ISO31000.

How the solution was implemented

A multi-phase multi-year Copperleaf AIPM implementation kicked off in January 2021.  At project kick off all teams that would be involved in the project were present and were provided a detailed overview and encouraged to provide input during the many current state and future state process mappings sessions. The AIPM solution was designed around the key requirement to link expenditure, resource forecasts, portfolios, and scenarios to assessed and mitigated risk (Environment, Safety Impact, Legislated Requirements, Customer Impact, Business Impact).

The change management team were quickly engaged to begin preparing the business on any processes that would change, with Copperleaf consultants providing guidance based on their experience implementing at other organisations. The first phase brought all Energy Queensland network investments together into one system for the first time, allowing for them to be assessed on an equal basis and considered on a constrained resource basis (both labour and material).

The project then followed up by adding standardised Unit Cost Models to more easily forecast tasks of high volume, based on the two separate EAM systems inclusive of standard jobs and compatible unit estimating. This allowed for accurate investment forecast creation in minutes, dramatically reducing user errors. It also provided for a fast way of updating forecasts as and when standard jobs in the EAM’s change, and assessment of the impact of doing more or less volumes of work across Energy Queensland.

A quick form investment capture process was also implemented to allow employees who only create investments with a way of quickly submitting their investment ideas, but without requiring in depth training or system access.

The implementation also greatly assisted accelerated harmonisation of the risk assessment approach for Energex and Ergon for network related risk management, with consistent risk reporting via the value framework.

Figure 1 – Adapting the Value Framework

And lastly the project adding a business intelligence integration so that data out of Copperleaf could be extracted and cross reported with data from other enterprise systems. From this we were able to build business specific reporting dashboards, and a manual integration to import ‘Approved Investments’ into our project management system to streamline project execution.

The solution was live in April 2022, with in depth user training and user rollout with several weeks of Hypercare where the project team, change management team and the software vendor provided support and resolution to any questions or issue that arose, with full deployment completed in June 2022.

Key Asset Management Benefits Achieved

  • All investment requests and network limitations are captured in one place and can be viewed, reviewed, and reported on, aiding transparency to staff in the business.  If a proposed investment is not in the system, it isn’t considered for inclusion in the plan.
  • Can now assess, compare, and report across investments, to understand the risk mitigated on our assets by intervening at a given point in time.
  • It has enabled prioritisation and optimisation of investment scenarios whilst considering several business constraints at once.
  • An ability to clearly detail what value is to be derived by making asset management and investment decisions.
  • Enabled retirement of a range of disparate systems, shared spreadsheets, and reduced email communication pertaining to analysis and iteration of plans.
  • Facilitated the Grid Investment group developing investment plan scenarios in weeks rather than months, and then an ability to revise as required in days rather than weeks.
  • Enabled our grid planning staff to focus on justifying work volume only rather than job estimation, quite the step forward given estimation differences across the two businesses
  • Created separation of duties, reduced errors, and improved reporting and business intelligence.
  • Inform resource demand and strategy.
  • Generate asset replacement forecasts for Regulatory Information Notices (RIN) and to inform materials procurement strategies.
  • Can iterate plans prior to exporting the approved version to our project management system with all resourcing pre-populated (based on the EAM standard jobs and compatible units) for operational delivery and project management purposes.

The combined project team comprising Energy Queensland Grid Investment portfolio managers, investment planning team members, project management, change management, IT specialists, and the Copperleaf project manager and consultants worked rapidly together, enabling each piece of functionality to go live as designed and within required timeframes. Working together the teams delivered an innovative solution for Energy Queensland’s asset investment planning process that annually plans for approximately $1.6 billion across six portfolios of work.

We were fortunate to have access to expert change management resources within EQL for the project roll-out to the business. Significant importance was placed on conducting impact assessments, listening and responding to stakeholder feedback with Subject Matter Expert (SME) involvement, and preparing the business for the transition from a project to business-as-usual activity. This smoothed the transition with SMEs and Local User Experts (LUEs) taking on a more focussed role for their stakeholder’s post-project. There’s been good feedback on the benefits derived from the new system, with one grid investment team collectively developing an animation to show the journey pre-and post-implementation.  Some of the positive comments received at the end of this project have been truly rewarding to hear, set against a back drop of change fatigue.

“I’ll just reiterate how wonderful it has been working with you all on this latest go-live, and I very much appreciate how responsive you have been getting EQL to the point of having a solid Portfolio platform to build upon in coming years.”

“….. what a great step forward for the business.”

“It has also helped immensely working with an extremely capable and customer outcomes focused company like Copperleaf.”

“Fantastic change management! Best introduction of a new product/service I have seen in Ergon/EQL. Thank you. This is a role model to follow.”

Likely the most innovative component of the introduction was the challenging requirement Energy Queensland had of the product to enable simple yet powerful estimation of high-volume work, inclusive of labour resource and material forecasting, and production of RIN outputs.  As a result this capability was developed to address Energy Queensland’s requirements, and subsequently included as a standard feature set in the product post go-live.  The introduction of this capability into Energy Queensland has also accelerated the business’ progress on a range of asset management objectives, via increased frequency of sharing amongst other Distribution Network Service Providers (DNSP) within Australia and New Zealand. Two dedicated forums have been held to date, with the journey set to continue.


Working with Copperleaf, Energy Queensland was able to implement an AIPM system flexible and adaptable for both current and future needs, using Energex and Ergon Energy’s current EAM systems data.  The result, supporting innovative improvements in the asset management decision making processes, was driven by the Engineering Division, impacting several hundred staff. Our investment planning, project management, change management,  and IT teams were engaged throughout and worked seamless together for a shared goal.

This project has been transformational to the business, and there have even been several unintended benefits.

Using unit cost models to better model unit rate driven work and scenarios, has enabled Energy Queensland to make increasingly timely decisions due to having all of the information in one place. e.g. risk linked to expenditure and resource forecasts, linked to portfolio of work.

As an example we were recently asked by procurement how many wooden poles will be required in the next planning period. In the past it would have been a manual and laborious process to provide an estimate . Now we can go into Copperleaf, run a report and in seconds provide estimates across a range of different scenarios, saving time and resources.

This innovative solution set will assist plan the networks, in preparation for two regulatory submissions and in preparation for the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

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