Many concerns over changes in power market

I have always been of the view that energy and water supply should not be privatised, as these are essential everyday public utilities which have to be administered affordably to every household.

It was a surprise to learn that the energy supply will be left in the hands of 12 more retailers in addition to SP Group (All households, firms to get choice of power retailer; Sept 22).

I feel the authorities have not done enough public consultation on this issue.

A number of questions arise.

First, how does the public know which supplier to select? Besides looking at the price, what else are we expected to compare? How can consumers determine the quality of suppliers?

Second, why subject the public to the inconvenience of first having to choose a power retailer and then being expected to monitor the costs and service quality?

Users would be further inconvenienced if they end up switching from one retailer to another in order to take advantage of the best price on offer and service provided.

Third, how will the authorities handle disruptions and inconveniences to the public in situations such as power breakdowns or company closures should retailers fail to compete and suffer losses?

Fourth, the Energy Market Authority said the reason the new players can help users save on utility bills is that retailers' rates reflect the short-term costs that depend on current market conditions and the varying levels of competition.

This seems to suggest that consumers would have to watch the energy unit prices and try to gauge price trends, like with the stock market.

I am sure there are many other questions the public has.

I hope these concerns will be addressed in detail before the nationwide launch.

Ong Soon Yam

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 25, 2018, with the headline 'Many concerns over changes in power market'. Print Edition | Subscribe