Regulator set to help users cut energy costs

Regulator set to help users cut energy costs

The Energy Market Authority (EMA) will be studying ways to help consumers improve energy efficiency and to better help households who have trouble paying utility bills, said its chief executive officer, Mr Chee Hong Tat, yesterday.

To do so, the national energy regulator has set up two joint task forces with energy utility provider Singapore Power. These task forces, led by senior representatives from both parties, will focus on these two important areas "which have potential to benefit many Singapore consumers", he added.

Mr Chee was speaking at a forum for the energy industry at the Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre.

"We will also pull together resources from EMA and Singapore Power to implement the proposals, so that we bring about concrete improvements and benefits to consumers," he said in his opening remarks.

Currently, households which run into financial difficulty are offered instalment payment plans and the option to be placed on a pay-as-you-use metering scheme.

As of end-April, the latest date for which figures are available, 9,129 customer accounts are on instalment plans, while about 13,000 accounts are on pay-as-you-use.

To help businesses cut costs and be more flexible, the agency is also reviewing its rules and licensing requirements, Mr Chee added.

It will start with an internal review before working with licensees like SP PowerGrid and SP Services to review their rules and procedures.

Over the past decade, Singapore has lowered its grid charges by being more productive and efficient, he said.

"When I first came to EMA in 2011, the electricity tariff for households was 27.28 cents per kilowatt hour (kwh). Today, it has dropped to 25.73 cents per kwh. Again if we take into account inflation, this is a drop in real terms of around 9 per cent."

Energy costs make up the bulk of electricity charges, which also include network costs, market support services fees, and market administration and power system operation fees.

Eventually, Singapore aims to allow all consumers here to choose their electricity retailer, starting with commercial and industrial customers, and enable the national grid to handle more intermittent energy sources like solar energy, he said.

This article was first published on June 7, 2014.
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