Singapore customers able to choose electricity supplier from November: How does it work

About 1.4 million households and business accounts will be able to buy electricity from 12 different retailers.
About 1.4 million households and business accounts will be able to buy electricity from 12 different retailers.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Customers here will be able to choose their electricity retailers starting from November, in an expansion of the open electricity market that launched in Jurong this April.

By May next year, 1.4 million more households and business accounts will be able to buy electricity from 12 different retailers, the Energy Market Authority (EMA) announced on Friday (Sept 21).

The nationwide launch will be rolled out progressively in four stages, according to postal codes. Those that begin with the numbers 58 to 78 will be the first to choose on Nov 1.

On Jan 1, it will be 53 to 57, 79 and 80, and 82 to 83.

Postal codes that begin with the numbers 34 to 52, and 81, can choose from March 1.

The last codes to choose, starting from May 1, will be those from 01 to 33.

Before the roll-out, which will impact 350,000 accounts in each phase, consumers will receive a notification package and information booklet.

EMA director for market development and surveillance Dorcas Tan said that the zonal roll-out was to ensure that retailers and the authorities would be able to focus their resources and fix issues that come up.

There is no deadline for switching and it is not compulsory for households to do so. Consumers can choose to stay with SP Group.

Phase Postal codes starting with Launch date
1 58 - 78 Nov 1, 2018
2 53 - 57, 79 - 80, 82 - 83 Jan 1, 2019
3 34 - 52, 81 March 1, 2019
4 01 - 33 May 1, 2019
 

Map of the phases of the electricity market rollout. GRAPHIC: EMA

  • How do I sign up?

  • 1. Read the notification package and information booklet that you will receive before the roll-out comes to your neighbourhood

    2. Shop around and check out the price plans retailers have to offer with this price comparison tool: http://compare.openelectricitymarket.sg

    3. Contact your preferred retailer for details on the price plan, and carefully read through the contract.

    4. Sign up with the preferred retailer, who will work with SP Group to make the switch for you. Your contract will start as early as five business days after your retailer informs SP Group to make the switch.

EMA chief executive Ngiam Shih Chun said: "Jurong residents benefited from more choice and flexibility. Those who switched paid an electricity rate which was, on average, about 20 per cent lower than the regulated tariff."

He said that more than 30 per cent of eligible accounts in Jurong switched their electricity retailer, which surprised the EMA, as the take-up rate in other parts of the world tended to be in the single digits.

"This is all about choice," said Mr Ngiam, adding: "We now hope to bring the benefits of competitive pricing and innovative offers to the rest of Singapore."

Speaking at the launch, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said that after opening the electricity market to businesses, and following the Jurong pilot, the rest of Singapore is now ready for liberalisation.

"We have done this carefully and progressively, and have collated our experiences to make sure that when we roll-out the market to the rest of the country, we will face the least problems."

 
 
 

Four retailers who took part in the Jurong pilot - Diamond Electric, Red Dot Power, Sun Electric, and Sunseap - will not be part of the nationwide launch.

They have various reasons for this, including the reassessment of their business plans and focusing on developing certain products or platforms.

However, they will continue honouring the contracts to the 500 or so accounts they now have in Jurong. They will also be able to take part in the open electricity market at a later point.

Jurong resident Marcos Ong changed his retailer to Keppel Electric.

The 26-year-old, who lives in an executive condominium with four roommates, said: "I have seen savings of up to 25 per cent off my monthly electricity bill since switching to Keppel Electric. The open electricity market brings about opportunities for both consumers and businesses to have a wide variety of options."

Consumers can compare prices at http://compare.openelectricitymarket.sg


How will I be protected? And other FAQs

How do I know that my rights as consumer are protected?

The Energy Market Authority (EMA) has created a consumer advisory, and all retailers must make sure you acknowledge the document before they proceed with the switch. Retailers also need to safeguard each household’s security deposits.

If retailers fail to comply with the terms of their licence with EMA, they can be suspended or have their licence taken away.

You can also approach the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) during disputes with the retailer.

Will I be deluged with marketing calls?

Retailers are banned from door-to-door marketing, or from giving unsolicited calls or messages. For greater assurance, you can register with the Do Not Call Registry.

How is it possible for retailers to charge lower rates?

The regulated tariff reflects the long-term costs of producing electricity in the market (including fuel costs), while the retailers' rates reflect the short-term costs that depend on current market conditions and the varying levels of competition.

An analogy is property. The price one pays for property is typically stable across the loan period, while the market rate of renting out the same property will depend on the demand and supply in the housing market.

Will switching always lead to lower bills?

It depends. The factors on which retailers set their rates (for example, electricity demand and supply levels, and competition fierceness) may vary over time.

There is no guarantee that the electricity rates they offer will remain at current levels.

That said, those who switched retailers in the Jurong pilot paid an electricity rate that was, on average, about 20 per cent lower than the regulated tariff.

Must consumers submit meter readings after switching?

Only those who wish to be billed based on their actual meter readings every month need to submit meter readings.

SP Group will continue to read meters once every two months, so it will estimate the meter readings for billing purposes.

What if a retailer suddenly pulls out from the open electricity market?

Your electricity supply will not be disrupted. You will continue to receive power through the national grid operated by SP Group.

Businesses with an average monthly consumption of at least 4,000 kilowatt hours, however, will buy electricity indirectly from the wholesale electricity market through SP Group at wholesale electricity market prices.


Who are the retailers?

Best Electricity, Environmental Solutions (Asia), Geneco, iSwitch, Keppel Electric, Ohm Energy, PacificLight Energy, Sembcorp Power, Senoko Energy, SingNet, Tuas Power, and Union Power.