Jurong residents can choose electricity provider from April

Just as how they would choose between different mobile telcos, around 108,000 households and 9,500 businesses in Jurong will be able to pick from multiple electricity providers from April.

The Open Electricity Market will be available to households with postal codes 60 to 64, in an area that roughly covers Jurong East, Jurong West, Tuas, Pioneer and Boon Lay, the Energy Market Authority (EMA) said yesterday.

The EMA will reach out to households and firms involved early next year. They are the vanguard of the market liberalisation to be accessible to 1.3 million accounts in the rest of Singapore by the second half of next year, with the aim of giving consumers greater choice of competitively priced electricity packages.

The authority said that with full liberalisation, consumers can buy electricity from a retailer rather than SP Group, now the only player in the market for households. It will not be compulsory to switch to a retailer if households do not want to.

Consumers may be assured of the reliability of supply as SP Group will continue operating the national power grid, said the EMA.

The energy market was first opened in 2001 to businesses, to choose from different retailers.

"With competition, consumers stand to benefit from competitive pricing, enhanced service standards and innovative packages from electricity retailers," said EMA chief executive Ng Wai Choong, adding that he expected prices to go down for households.

Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran, speaking about the announcement at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, said Jurong was chosen because it is demographically representative of the country. He added: "In terms of size, it is about 100,000 accounts. That is a reasonable size to implement and learn from the implementation."

An online platform will be launched to allow consumers to compare different price packages.

There are now 26 licensed electricity retailers here, but not all might want to enter the market in April, said the EMA. It is vetting retailers to ensure they are able to provide electricity to Jurong account holders.

Sembcorp Power general manager Valerie Lee said the firm planned to introduce several plans. For instance, one will offer a flat discount off SP Services' regulated electricity tariffs.

Ohm Energy managing director Jomar Eldoy said it would also offer several packages, noting: "If market conditions are similar to those today, we expect our consumers to save approximately 25 per cent off their current electricity bills."

Dr Sanjay Kuttan, programme director of Nanyang Technological University's Energy Research Institute (ERI), said the move was "a long time coming".

"Choice is always a good thing. And the thing about competition is that it forces people to become smarter and provide more options for the consumer."

ERI executive director Subodh Mhaisalkar said that based on data from places such as the United States or Europe, multiple utility providers could lead to savings of between 5 per cent and 15 per cent. He added: "I also hope that competition could lead to the production of 'green electricity' generated by sustainable sources."

Lakeside Drive resident Casey Ong, 54, spends about $150 a month on electricity for his household of four. The software engineer said: "If you have more options provided, it will generally drive up quality, and I am happy about that."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2017, with the headline 'Jurong residents can choose electricity provider from April'. Print Edition | Subscribe