4 in 10 S'pore households switched to retailer in Open Electricity Market; many enjoy up to 30% savings

An Energy Market Authority survey found that 85 per cent of the respondents were satisfied with the level of service provided by their retailer and 98 per cent found the process of switching retailers easy. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Four in 10 Singapore households have switched to an electricity retailer since the launch of the Open Electricity Market (OEM) in April last year, said the Energy Market Authority (EMA) on Tuesday (Oct 15).

Most of them have found the experience to be positive, an EMA survey showed. The results of the consumer satisfaction survey of more than 10,000 households who have switched was published on Tuesday.

It found that 85 per cent of the respondents were satisfied with the level of service provided by their retailer and 98 per cent found the process of switching retailers easy.

The survey also showed that residential consumers were generally aware of the electricity rate, contract start and end dates, and details of their security deposit. The vast majority or 94 per cent of respondents indicated that their retailer presented its offers accurately.

The EMA said those who switched retailers enjoyed savings of 20 to 30 per cent compared to the regulated tariff.

Consumers that changed electricity retailers in the last year told The Straits Times that they were paying less for electricity and that the process of switching was easy.

Housewife Evangeline Lim, 57, who switched to Sembcorp Power earlier this year, said her electricity bill is about 25 per cent lower than before.

"We used our air-conditioners more last month when the weather was very warm but our bill came to about $250. In the past it would be almost $300," said Mrs Lim. She lives in a semi-detached house in Bedok with her husband, three of their four children, her mother and a domestic helper.

She signed up for a two-year contract at a road show for Sembcorp Power and received a confirmation letter from SP Group a couple of days later.

"The transaction was smooth. So far, I've no complaints. Plus, the cost is so much lower now," she said.

Author Jimmy Chua, 35, said his move to Ohm Energy in January this year went smoothly and he has not experienced any hiccups since.

The father of one, who lives in a four-bedroom HDB flat in Sengkang, said his electricity bill was typically about $75, about 25 per cent lower than before.

The electricity market in Singapore opened up in April last year with a soft launch limited to residents in Jurong. The OEM was then progressively rolled out to the rest of the country between November 2018 and May 2019.

Previously, SP Group was the primary supplier of electricity to households in Singapore.

The liberalisation of the market has meant that households here have more choices when it comes to energy suppliers. There are now 12 such retailers including Geneco, iSwitch, and Keppel Electric.

But the roll-out has not been without hiccups. In August, The Straits Times reported that there had been some cases of unauthorised sign-ups by electricity retailers. A check on Tuesday found that the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) had received 181 complaints against electricity retailers as of September.

Case executive director Loy York Juin said consumers are advised to do their research and select a plan that best meets their needs. Consumers are also encouraged to clarify and understand important aspects of the contract such as length of contract, payment terms, and if the plan includes any security deposit, early termination charges, and auto-renewal clauses.

Mr Loy said: "Consumers are also advised against revealing their personal information such as NRIC number and Singapore Power account details if they have no intention of switching to an electricity retailer."

Under industry rules, third-party applications require an authorisation form. The onus is on the retailers to ensure that proper authorisation is obtained for sign-ups by third parties. Retailers have to comply with EMA's code of conduct which requires them to obtain consent to enter into a contract and prohibits false or misleading representations. Failure to do so may lead to a licence suspension or financial penalties.

To help consumers make more informed decisions when choosing their electricity retailer, EMA has developed a five-star rating system to reflect the overall satisfaction level for each retailer, based on responses from the consumer satisfaction survey. Ohm Energy, Sunseap Energy and Tuas Power came out tops with four stars each.

In a press statement, chief executive of EMA Ngiam Shih Chun said: "Apart from price, we encourage consumers to consider the satisfaction ratings for retailers in their decision-making. We also hope this rating system will motivate retailers to continually improve their products and services for the benefit of consumers."

The retailer ratings will be updated on the OEM website every six months.

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