The race for a slice of the Jurong power pie is sizzling, as electricity retailers prepare to dive into the open electricity market that launches there next month.
The 14 retailers, which have been authorised by the Energy Market Authority (EMA) to offer electricity plans, may start marketing from today.
From April 1, the open electricity market will give 108,000 households and 9,500 businesses in Jurong the opportunity to buy electricity from a retailer of their choice, similar to consumers choosing among mobile telcos.
An EMA spokesman said: "Consumers will no longer be restricted to buying electricity from SP Group at the regulated tariff, and can stand to benefit from more competitive pricing and innovative offers from electricity retailers."
Jurong residents interviewed by The Straits Times were either unaware of the opening up of the market or said that they would wait and see before switching.
Jurong resident and retiree Doris Yeo, 71, said: "In the beginning, there will always be teething problems. I won't switch quickly until everything has stabilised. And if it's cheaper, then why not?"
Housewife Evelyn Lim also said she would not rush into a contract with a new retailer. "Of course, with each launch, they will promise you a lot of freebies but suddenly they may change their policies," said the 68-year-old.
Who's offering what: 5 in the mix
What: Sunseap is partnering StarHub to offer two-year green energy plans.
They said their plans will allow consumers to "switch out of their existing electricity retailer and go solar without the hassle of owning or installing solar panels".
One of their plans will follow the regulated electricity tariff but allow consumers to opt for clean energy.
Who: Sembcorp Power
What: For the Jurong pilot, Sembcorp will offer two price plans which the firm estimates will save consumers up to $500 across two years.
The "Discount Off Tariff Plan", for instance, will be priced 13.8 per cent lower than the prevailing regulated tariff.
Who: Senoko Energy
What: The firm will launch two plans for consumers and two for small and medium-sized enterprises.
Consumers who sign up for electricity-package contract terms of 24 months or 36 months will get three months of free electricity.
Consumers who are members of the rewards programme Plus! will also earn LinkPoints for every dollar of their electricity bill paid.
Who: Keppel Electric
What: The firm is offering three plans with options to choose from packages that run for three, six, 12 or 24 months. It will also not collect an upfront security deposit.
Who: PacificLight Energy
What: The retailer will offer three standard plans, and encourage customers to opt for e-billing.
Those who choose e-billing will get $1 off each monthly bill.
It will also incentivise consumers for making full and prompt payments monthly by giving them further discounts whenever it receives their payments on or before the bill's due date.
Retailers said they would not be too concerned if the initial response from residents was lukewarm.
Sembcorp Utilities' senior vice-president Lim Yeow Keong said that in energy markets overseas such as Australia and Japan, consumers adopted a wait-and-see approach to look out for the best plan for their needs.
"Similar to Japan, we expect about 5 to 8 per cent of consumers to make the switch in the first year," he said.
Likewise, Ms Geraldine Tan, general manager of PacificLight Energy, said: "We believe that consumers may feel overwhelmed in the beginning, with 14 retailers' offers and so many price plans to choose from."
Mr Low Boon Tong, executive vice-president of retail at Seraya Energy, said that in the long run, it "definitely makes more sense" for consumers to switch because they will end up saving more.
Seraya Energy has launched a new brand, Geneco, which will serve the electricity needs of households while Seraya continues to serve businesses.
Dr Sanjay Kuttan, programme director at Nanyang Technological University's Energy Research Institute, said there are too many retailers and the number is likely to shrink over time after a period of consolidation.
Consumers, he said, are the biggest winners in this situation and their only "headache" would be to discern which is a better retailer for their needs.
"As a consumer, you are guaranteed no supply disruption because that is not in the retailers' hands. It is guaranteed by the power system, which will stay secure," he said.
The EMA spokesman said consumers can compare the price plans by visiting http://compare.openelectricitymarket.sg. An information booklet will also be sent to eligible consumers from today.
EMA is also holding an Open Electricity Market roadshow with all 14 retailers on April 21 and 22 at Westgate mall in Jurong.