Customised price plans for electricity may not cut bill size

I am concerned about the plan to introduce customised price plans for electricity, since there are no assurances that this would translate into lower costs for consumers ("Customised price plans for electricity in the pipeline"; Monday).

Electricity from renewable sources currently costs more than that from fossil fuels.

Hence, if all electricity retailers must offer some degree of green energy, this may mean the electricity bill for Singaporeans will only increase in future.

As we have learnt from other industries in Singapore, opening up the electricity retail market to competition in itself may not guarantee lower prices.

For instance, although there has been competition in the telco market, it does not seem as if the average consumer has been paying less for his mobile phone plan.

As for the pay-TV market, one of the common grouses among football fans here is that the price of a monthly subscription to watch the English Premier League has been increasing over the years, amid "fierce" rivalry between Singtel and StarHub.

My other concern about the customised price plans is whether they will be as well disseminated as those for telecommunication.

Are all plans offered to everyone, no matter where they live? Would people living in some areas be constrained in the number of plans that they can choose from, depending on their proximity to electricity infrastructure?

If not all plans are available everywhere, wouldn't it mean that some Singaporeans could end up paying more?

Overall, it is always good to give people a choice, and if there are Singaporeans who don't mind paying a premium for green energy, then customised price plans would work great for them.

Chan Yeow Chuan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2016, with the headline 'Customised price plans for electricity may not cut bill size'. Print Edition | Subscribe