(Photo: The Straits Times)

Reader Jonathan Thong wrote in to ask if utility rates in Singapore vary according to peak/non-peak hours. Tiffany Fumiko Tay spoke to the Energy Market Authority (EMA) and national water agency PUB to find out.

The EMA and PUB said that utility rates do not vary according to different times of the day or demand for the utility at that moment.

Currently, residential consumers can buy electricity only from SP Services, and prices are regulated by the EMA.

However, by next year, the electricity market will be opened up to 1.3 million small consumers – made up mainly of households – enabling them to buy electricity from other licensed retailers and opt for peak and off-peak price plans.

Already, commercial and industrial consumers with an average monthly electricity consumption of at least 2,000kWh, or a monthly electricity bill of about $400, can choose their preferred retailer and price plan.

As at the end of the third quarter of last year, about a third of the 35,000 eligible consumers made the switch away from SP Services, said EMA.

These businesses have interval meters installed at their premises to record half-hourly electricity consumption, which enables retailers to offer them time-of-use price plans.

Licensed retailers include Senoko Energy Supply, SembCorp Power and Keppel Electric.

As for town gas which is used for heating and cooking, City Gas is currently the only provider. Tariffs are reviewed quarterly to account mainly for changes in fuel cost and are also regulated by the EMA.

For water prices, consumers pay for the water tariff, water conservation tax and used water charges.

Used water charges go towards offsetting the cost of collecting and treating used water. The water tariff and conservation tax are tiered to discourage wasteful usage; households using less than 40 cubic m of water a month pay a water tariff of $1.17 per cubic m, and a water conservation tax at 30 per cent of the water tariff.

Those who use more than 40 cubic m of water pay a higher tariff and water conservation tax, at $1.40 per cubic m and 45 per cent of the tariff.

Water prices are set to rise for the first time in 17 years to ensure a sustainable supply and reflect the scarcity of the resource. Details on the amount and timing of the increase will be in the upcoming Budget on Monday.

First published in The Straits Times