Singapore

Open electricity market kicks off today

This article is more than 12 months old

From free iPads to free Internet subscriptions, the open electricity market kicks off in the northern part of Singapore today amid fierce competition, with retailers dangling a myriad of deals to persuade consumers to sign with them.

All 350,000 households and firms in areas with postal codes starting with 58 to 78 - such as Woodlands, Yew Tee and Bukit Gombak - will be able to switch from Singapore Power starting today, marking the first phase of the nationwide roll out of the open market. It will cover the entire country by next May.

While Singnet has pulled out, there are now 13 firms: Best Electricity Supply, •Diamond Energy Merchants,• ES Power, •Geneco, •iSwitch, •Keppel Electric, •Ohm Energy, •PacificLight Energy, •Sembcorp Power, •Senoko Energy Supply, •Sunseap Energy, •Tuas Power Supply and •Union Power.

To make themselves more attractive to customers, some have thrown in freebies or have partnered with companies in other industries to offer unique packages.

iSwitch, for instance, will give customers a complimentary iPad if they sign up for its iPromo price plan.

Its spokesman said: "We learnt a lot from the Jurong launch, and realised that customers don't only look for affordable price plans. They tend to favour more value-added products."

Keppel Electric is also strengthening its partnership with telco M1 to offer customers deals that include complimentary Internet subscriptions.

A soft launch seven months ago in Jurong allowed the Energy Market Authority (EMA) to fine-tune the initiative. For instance, retailers must now offer at least one of two standard plans - a fixed price plan or a discount off the regulated tariff. Previously one of the standard price plans involved differentiated pricing for peak and off-peak periods.

Those customers who do not wish to switch retailers can stick with SP Group, which manages the national grid and sells electricity at a regulated tariff which is reviewed every quarter.

An EMA spokesman said: "With the open electricity market, we hope to give households more choices and flexibility when buying electricity, while being provided with the same electricity supply through the national power grid."

A PacificLight Energy spokesman, revealing that more than 6,000 Jurong customers switched to its services, said it believes more account holders will switch retailer once they understand that doing so will not impact their electricity reliability.

Choa Chu Kang resident Chew Yew Tuan, 61, said he was looking forward to the open electricity market as it would bring better prices through increased competition.

The executive project engineer said: "As consumers we are looking for the cheapest deals. It's very likely that I will switch, but I will let the market run for a while first and see what happens."

Retired financial trader Tan Kok See, who also lives in Choa Chu Kang, said he wished more information went out to consumers sooner. He felt there are too many retailers to choose from.

"Just give me three very solid choices," said Mr Tan, 57, adding that he would have to find out more about the various rates and packages on offer before deciding.

However, when asked if he would change should his final bill end up cheaper, he responded that it would be a "no brainer".

ELECTRICITY & POWER