Open electricity market debuts on strong note

Retailers see good response as market opens to 350,000 accounts in postal codes 58 to 78

More than 2,000 households and firms in the north of Singapore signed up to new contracts, according to figures provided by six of the 13 retailers. PHOTO: ST FILE

Electricity retailers reported brisk sign-up rates since the launch of the open electricity market yesterday, with three saying that response was "overwhelming".

One of them, Geneco, had signed up around 1,000 new customers within a day. Its spokesman said: "This rate of sign-up is faster than the pilot launch in Jurong."

More than 2,000 households and firms in the north of Singapore signed up to new contracts, according to figures provided by six of the 13 retailers The Straits Times contacted.

The rest either did not respond or declined to reveal numbers.

About 350,000 accounts in areas with postal codes starting from 58 to 78, such as Woodlands, Yew Tee and Bukit Gombak, can now switch retailers.

Some of the non-households ST reached out to have yet to decide if they would make the switch.

Pre-school chain Modern Montessori International (MMI) has more than 20 pre-schools in the newly liberalised zone.

Its chief executive and chairman, Dr T. Chandroo, said: "MMI will certainly consider using the electricity retailers if there are cost savings to be reaped."

Nee Soon Town Council chairman Louis Ng said more time would be needed before the town council decides if it would change from SP Group, which manages the national grid.

One of those who jumped to another retailer yesterday was civil servant Chan Thiam Huat.

He signed up for a new plan with electricity retailer iSwitch once the plans were made available in Yio Chu Kang, where he lives.

"iSwitch caught my attention and I decided to sign with them for the next three years because the price plans were very competitive and I would get a good deal," said Mr Chan, 47.

"I monitor my electricity usage and this will translate to savings of at least $9 to $10 per month... It took less than two minutes to sign up," he said.

The iPromo-iPad plan that Mr Chan signed up for online locks in customers for 36 months.

The open electricity market allows Singaporeans to choose an electricity retailer. The islandwide launch will be rolled out progressively in four stages.

Yesterday marked the first day of the launch, and the market will be open nationwide by May next year.

On the same day of the launch, telco M1 and retailer Keppel Electric announced a tie-up to offer power plans islandwide.

Many retailers have partnered firms from different industries to make themselves stand out from their competitors.

For instance, Senoko Energy has tied up with United Overseas Bank (UOB) to offer cash rebates to customers who set up recurring payments with their UOB cards.

Other offers include everything from free Internet subscriptions to free iPads.

Sembcorp Power partnered firms like Great Eastern to offer customers benefits such as complimentary home protection insurance.

A spokesman for Ohm Energy, one of the electricity retailers, cautioned that the brisk start may not last.

"While we are impressed with the interest and take-up rate... It would not be surprising if these sign-ups on the first day are from customers that have been ready, but not been able to sign up (before yesterday)," she said.

13 participating retailers

• Best Electricity Supply

• Diamond Energy Merchants

• ES Power (by Environmental Solutions (Asia) )

• Geneco (by Seraya Energy)

• iSwitch

• Keppel Electric

• Ohm Energy

• PacificLight Energy

• Sembcorp Power

• Senoko Energy Supply

• Sunseap Energy

• Tuas Power Supply

• Union Power

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 02, 2018, with the headline Open electricity market debuts on strong note. Subscribe