For the first time in Singapore, homeowners are able to choose their electricity retailers. Though the energy market first opened in 2001, the option to choose was only given to businesses. Here are the most important things to note:
1) The Open Electricity Market (OEM) switch will be done in four phases, each according to postal codes. Please visit www.openelectricitymarket.sg to check if your postal code is eligible for a switch.
2) After the Jurong exercise in November, the remaining 13 retailers are: iSwitch, ES Power, Senoko Energy Supply, Best Electricity Supply, Keppel Electric, Ohm Energy, Sembcorp Power, Geneco, Sunseap, Union Power, Pacific Light, Diamond Electric and Tuas Power Supply.
3) As switching to another retailer is not compulsory, Singapore Power (SP) remains an option. SP will continue to operate the national power grid and deliver electricity to households, so no matter the retailer, you will still be receiving an electricity supply.
WHAT TYPE OF PLANS ARE THERE?
There are two types of plans under the Standard Price Plans. Consumers who opt for a Fixed Price plan pay a fixed rate (e.g. 18 cents/kWh) throughout your contract duration. However, as the regulated tariff is reviewed quarterly, this fixed rate may be higher or lower than the regulated tariff.
Customers who opt for a Discount Off the Regulated Tariff enjoy a monthly discount (e.g. 5 per cent off). You pay a different amount every month, according to your usage, but it will still be cheaper than the regulated tariff.
These Standard Price Plans have no hidden charges, and consumers can choose between a 6, 12 or 24 month-plan.
WILL SWITCHING REALLY RESULT IN A MORE AFFORDABLE BILL?
Let’s take the numbers from a real household and compare it against both OEM plans.
Who: A young couple in their 20s
Where: A three-bedroom executive condominium apartment in Yishun
Average kWh usage per month: 265 kWh
How much SP is charging: 25.52cents/kWh, which means a total of $67.63 on electricity per month.
FIXED PRICE (24-MONTH PLAN)
Out of all retailers, ES Power comes in cheapest at 17.94 cents/kWh ($47.54), with Senoko close behind at 17.98 cents/kWh ($47.65). Geneco is also offering 17.98 cents/kWh, and the most expensive option is Pacific Light at 18.92 cents kWh ($50.14).
However, you may not want to base on this comparison alone. The retailers may be offering incentives — such as free gifts, rebates and free air-con servicing — that may outweigh the slight increase in price. This means that after factoring in such incentives, opting for a more expensive plan might reap you more benefits. Some companies even have group buys (when the minimum number of participants is met) that give you additional perks.
Remember to read the fact sheets on www.openelectricitymarket.sg for a more comprehensive comparison.
FIXED PRICE PLANS: A comparison between 6, 12 or 24 month-plans
Under the Standard Price Plans, consumers can choose between a 6, 12 or 24 month-plan. A cautious homeowner may want to commit to 6-month plan with a new retailer, before deciding to revert to an SP plan or renew his plan with the new retailer. However, do note that most companies offer a cheaper rate if you sign a longer contract.
Let’s use Sunseap, Ohm Energy and Geneco as examples. In these instances, all the 24-month plans — which incidentally cost the same — are cheaper than the shorter plans. However, even the most expensive plan is cheaper than the couple’s current SP plan.
Sunseap: 6 months =$47.78 per month/ 12 months =$48.97 per month/ 24 months = $47.65 per month
Ohm Energy: 6 months = $48.63 per month/ 12 months = $47.78 per month/ 24 months = $47.65 per month
Geneco: 6 months = Not Applicable/ 12 months = $53.87 per month/ 24 months = $47.65 per month
DISCOUNT OFF THE REGULATED TARIFF PLANS (24-MONTH PLAN)
These are only available in 24-month plans. Using the same household profile to compare, ES Power comes in cheapest at 23.20 per cent off the regulated tariff ($51.94). Sembcorp is not far behind at a 21.80 per cent discount ($52.89) and Sunseap is the most expensive at only 15 per cent off discount ($57.48).
THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE SWITCHING
There are more benefits than saving money when you switch to a different retailer. You may want to switch to support a greener environment, too. For example, Sunseap is a solar retailer. They generate electricity from various solar PV systems and deliver it to you via the national grid that is powered by SP. This means you are able to get solar energy without installing solar panels on your roof. Solar power is a clean and renewable energy that does not harm the environment.
On the other hand, ES Power is a provider of carbon-neutral electricity. Although carbon-neutral electricity still requires a conventional and non-renewable method to harness electricity, it means ES Power is part of a programme that allows the retailer to purchase CO2 credits. The value of these credits go to environmentally friendly projects that work to reduce global carbon burdens and fight climate change.
It is important to check out all 12 retailers’ websites before deciding to switch (or even stay with Singapore Power). Each retailer has different plans, incentives, and initiatives. By reading and comparing these plans, you are able to choose one that suits your habits (check out Pacific Light’s “Save while Sleeping” plan!), serves a bigger purpose, or the one that saves you most money. Finding out more on their customer and value-add services is important, too.
As the open electricity market is fairly new, it is no surprise that the retailers are offering competitive prices. However, as we can’t be too sure how long this will continue, it is also a good idea to wait and see how the market plays out.
*The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication (14 January 2019).