New plans serve cheaper power to Singaporeans 

business March 05, 2017 01:00

By The Straits Times 
Asia News Network

Shopping for customised electricity plans has been an option for businesses in Singapore for the past year or so, but not many have decided to make the switch away from public power utility SP Services. 

As at the end of the third quarter of last year, only about a third of the 35,000 eligible commercial and industrial consumers had chosen to do so, the latest figures from the Energy Market Authority show. 

Businesses with an average monthly electricity usage of at least 2 megawatt-hours – a monthly power bill of about 450 Singapore dollars (Bt11,100) – could choose an alternative to SP Services from July 2015. 

Before that, only consumers that used more than 4MWh of electricity monthly were eligible. 

On the low take-up rate, Julius Tan, manager of energy retail at Singaporean electricity retailer Sunseap, said some might worry that electricity supply could be less reliable with a different retailer. 

But he said electricity supply would still come from the grid. “The only difference is that they are paying an electricity retailer that can offer them plans customised to their needs,” he said. This is similar to how mobile-phone users choose price plans from various telecommunication companies. 

Customised price plans, for example, will allow consumers to power up their premises with a mix that includes solar energy without the need to install and maintain their own solar panels. This may appeal to eco-conscious consumers and those who want to save money, as electricity generated in part by solar energy is cheaper than the regulated tariff. 

Last month, Sunseap started offering eligible consumers a GoEco price plan, which guarantees that a portion of electricity used will come from the sun. Its website says doing so can cut electricity bills by 20 per cent. 

As a gauge, it costs about 20 cents for 1 kilowatt-hour of electricity from SP Services at the regulated tariff. 

Sun Electric, another Singaporean solar electricity retailer, is also offering a variety of price plans that allow eligible consumers to tap varying amounts of solar energy, resulting in savings of between 15 and 20 per cent. 

“You don’t need a roof ... to get solar electricity, and a lot of electricity consumers like to get clean electricity. All of our products are also cheaper than the tariff,” said Dr Matt Peloso, Sun Electric chief executive. 

Logistics firm Ninja Van has made the switch from the regulated tariff. It subscribed to Sunseap’s GoEco plan for one of its two facilities last month. The other facility will also be on the same plan from next month. 

Pang Sing Yang, vice president of strategy at Ninja Van, said of the switch: “We believe in supporting other local start-ups and want to play our part in environmental conservation by using a form of renewable energy. We also enjoy some cost savings.” 

Next year, 1.3 million households can also get to benefit from this flexibility when the electricity retail market is fully open to competition. 

Under the government’s SolarNova scheme, which aggregates solar demand, agencies such as the Housing and Development Board provide rooftop space for firms to install the panels. In return, town councils enjoy discounted electricity rates.