EMA needs to be more involved in Open Electricity Market

The Open Electricity Market (OEM) has promised to boost competition between electricity retailers.

However, the Energy Market Authority's (EMA's) hands-off approach towards the OEM has resulted in inefficiencies, confusion and complications.

Retailers have free rein to market their plans to consumers. Some retailers have resorted to gimmicks, like free electricity and cash rebates. This may not benefit customers in the long run, and serve to confuse and encourage wasteful habits.

In addition, the retailer who gets the most business may not be the cheapest or the most eco-friendly; just the one with the most marketing savvy.

To promote competition on the things that matter, such as price and eco-friendliness, marketing should be done only through the EMA. It can hold roadshows to reach out to consumers and showcase all the plans in an objective and transparent way. Retailers also should not be expected to handle customer applications and the subsequent billing.

The process has become complex and requires much time and energy. When I was applying, I had to navigate through three websites before realising I had to go to a physical office to do the paperwork.

I am also expected to take a photo of the electricity meter on a specific date and send it through WhatsApp to SP Group. Subsequently, I have to deal with two utility bills instead of one.

The EMA should allow consumers to make the switch online at the OEM website. Those who are less tech-savvy should be allowed to fill out a form that can be included in the utilities bill. Billing should continue to be done through SP Group.

Tan Yi Han

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 13, 2018, with the headline 'EMA needs to be more involved in Open Electricity Market'. Print Edition | Subscribe