More choice, flexibility for all electricity users in the second half of 2018: Iswaran

Mr S Iswaran, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry).
Mr S Iswaran, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry). ST PHOTO: FILE

SINGAPORE - The Energy Market Authority (EMA) is looking at ways to give all electricity users, including industries, small commercial consumers and households, greater flexibility and choice in their electricity consumption.

To this end, the authority is working with industry stakeholders to "fully open the electricity retail market to competition" in the second half of 2018, said Mr S Iswaran, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry).

He was speaking at the opening ceremony of the Singapore International Energy Week at Marina Bay Sands on Monday morning. More details on the plans for full retail competition will be announced soon, he added.

A fully liberalised electricity market will give consumers the choice to buy electricity from electricity retailers under customised price plans, or from the wholesale electricity markets at prices that fluctuate every half-hour.

Currently, only about 33,000 commercial and industrial consumers with an average monthly electricity consumption of at least 2MWh - which amounts to a monthly electricity bill of about $450 - benefit from this flexibility.This threshold was most recently lowered from 4MWh to 2MWh in July this year.

The remaining 1.3 million consumers, mainly households, are on the regulated tariff with SP Services.

"From 2001, we have progressively liberalised the electricity retail market to allow more consumers to choose their electricity retailer," said Mr Iswaran. "Our ultimate aim is to have full retail competition... This will enable the remaining 1.3 million consumers, which are mainly households, to have flexibility and choice in their electricity consumption."

During the event, he also announced two areas that the EMA is looking at to boost the energy industry in Singapore.

First, it plans to work with the industry to further facilitate power generation investment decisions in Singapore, by providing more information to investors. The EMA has launched a consultation paper to gather feedback from the industry, in areas such as regulatory approval, long-term energy market outlook and a framework to allocate land for new generation assets.

Second, Mr Iswaran said, the Government is also planning to establish a Secondary Gas Trading Market in Singapore, where gas buyers and sellers can trade gas on a short-term basis domestically.

A consultation paper will also be issued to gather industry feedback on a proposed market design and implementation roadmap, as well as on the establishment of an industry working group.

Mr Iswaran also on Monday gave out the EMA's biennial Singapore Energy Awards to two recipients who have made outstanding contributions to Singapore's energy industry in the areas of capability development and innovation.

Mr Neil McGregor, former chief executive of the Singapore LNG Corporation and current senior managing director of Temasek Holdings' Enterprise Development Group won the Individual category for his instrumental role in building up the local LNG eco-system and enhancing Singapore's energy resilience.

He oversaw the planning, development and completion of Singapore's first LNG terminal on Jurong Island, which allows Singapore to import natural gas globally.

Under the Organisation category, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) clinched the award for its deployment of solar panels in Singapore on a wide and impactful scale through its Solar Capability Building Programme and Solar Leasing Model.

By end 2015, about 400 HDB blocks will be installed with solar panels. Power generated by the solar energy harnessed could be used to power common services like lifts, lighting in common areas, and pumps.

HDB is the first Government organisation to bag this award, which was first launched in 2013. HDB's deputy chief executive officer for building, Mr Sng Cheng Keh said: "HDB is honoured to be the first government organisation to receive the Singapore Energy Award. This is a strong affirmation of HDB's commitment to build capabilities in solar PV technology, which is key to our goal to create sustainable HDB towns. HDB will endeavour to bring such innovation to more towns so that our residents can enjoy cleaner and greener energy".