You can’t procrastinate forever — the Open Electricity Market (OEM) initiative has been in full swing for some time (since 1 May 2019) so if you haven’t already, it’s right about time to choose your preferred electricity retailer in Singapore.
The Open Electricity Market (OEM) and electricity retailers in Singapore
The OEM is a turning point in Singapore history. Up until 1 Nov 2018, electricity was provided by SP (Singapore Power) and all we had to do was pay our bills.
But now, there are 12 electricity retailers with published prices offering 2 standard pricing models… that means more than 20 electricity packages to compare. Naturally, there’s some analysis paralysis…
To get you started, here are 3 steps to picking an electricity retailer:
Step 1: Decide if you want a (a) fixed rate plan or (b) discount off the regulated tariff. Some retailers have non-standard plans as well.
Step 2: Decide how long you want your contract to be — it can be as short as 6 months to as long as 3 years.
Step 3: Finally, compare the prices and choose your preferred power soulmate.
Before your eyes start twitching and your brain starts short-circuiting, we’re here to play cupid with a comprehensive comparison of all the current retailers.
There’s an official OEM comparison tool which lets you easily estimate your electricity bills and compare providers. You just need to input your type of residence, average consumption, and preference for pricing models (fixed or discount off regulated tariff).
Using that calculator, let’s find out what are the cheapest retailers for a 4-room HDB flat with an assumed average consumption of 360 kWh / month.
Cheapest electricity retailers for fixed price plans
[JUL 1 – SEP 30, 2020] For these price plans, you pay a fixed price (calculated per kWh) for the duration of your contract. The rate is independent of the regulated tariff, and is applied to your total electricity consumption (regardless of what time you use it).
|Electricity retailer||Fixed price (per kWh)||Contract duration||Estimated monthly bill|
|Best Electricity Supply||$0.1700||6 or 12 months||$61.20|
|Union Power||$0.1700||6 or 12 months||$61.20|
|PacificLight Energy||$0.1719||12 months||$61.88|
|Senoko Energy Supply||$0.1723||12 months||$62.03|
|Tuas Power Supply||$0.1723||12 months||$62.03|
The fixed electricity rates offered change much more often than the pegged ones (see below), and the front runners switch around every month or so.
Currently, the cheapest fixed price is offered by Best Electricity Supply ($0.1700 per kWh for 6- or 12-month contracts). For those who are unsure about signing on with a newcomer, you can consider Senoko Energy Supply or Tuas Power Supply which charge slightly higher.
The top 5 fixed rate plans are very competitive, each one only differing by less than a cent. If you look at our example (4-room HDB flat with average consumption of 360 kWh), the difference in monthly bill is less than $1.
If you think the electricity tariff will fall soon, and don’t want to commit to a year-long contract, consider the 6-month plans from Best Electricity Supply or Union Power. At $0.1700 per kWh, they’re the best in the market right now.
Cheapest electricity retailers for “discount off regulated tariff” price plans
For this type of plan, you get a fixed discount off the regulated tariff set by the Electricity Market Authority (EMA), which is currently $0.2097 per kWh (Jul 1 to Sep 30, 2020). You pay a floating rate, subject to the tariff’s quarterly fluctuations. In other words, your bill will always be X per cent cheaper than if you opted for SP.
This seems like the most popular pricing model. Perhaps it’s because the tariff is supposed to be a “fair price” set by EMA anyway so any discount off it seems good enough. Pick this only if you don’t mind quarterly fluctuations in your electricity bill.
|Electricity retailer||Discount off regulated tariff||Contract duration||Estimated monthly bill|
|PacificLight Energy||25.50 per cent off||12 months||$56.24|
|Union Power||25.50 per cent off||12 months||$56.24|
|Diamond Electric||25 per cent off||12 months||$56.62|
|PacificLight Energy||23.50 per cent off||24 months||$57.75|
|Keppel Electric||23.00 per cent off||24 months||$58.13|
This quarter sees PacificLight Energy upping its discount to 25.50 per cent off the regulated tariff while Union Power and Diamond Electric continue the same rates.
Following the top three, the next largest discount is a mere 23.50 per cent with PacificLight Energy’s 24-month plan.
This time, the “discount off the regulated tariff” plans are all cheaper than the fixed rate, so you may wish to switch now to lock in a low rate.
If you don’t mind committing for a year, you can pretty much pick from the top three plans. But if you’re afraid and want the shortest contract period (6 months), the cheapest plan is Sunseap Energy’s Sunseap-One at 23per cent off the regulated tariff, with an estimated monthly bill of $58.13.
Sunseap’s Sunseap-One plans are also green, as they use 1 per cent solar energy. These plans are the least eco-friendly of their plans (the others are 50 per cent to 100 per cent solar energy), but they’re also the cheapest. It’s the same price whether you choose to lock it in for 6, 12 or 24 months.
At this point, I should also mention that the “household names” like Keppel Electric, Sembcorp etc. aren’t quite as competitive for these discounted plans. It seems the younger brands are presently dominating the scene.
Other non-standard price plans – “peak & off-peak”, free gifts & more promotions
In addition to the standard plans, some retailers offer non-standard packages to cater to different profiles of users so be sure to check their official websites when picking a plan.
A popular one is the “peak and off-peak” pricing, which splits the day into 2 time slots — day and night — charging different rates for it. So if you can use most of your electricity during off-peak hours, you can enjoy cheaper prices.
Other non-standard plans include handing out cash rebates (usually calculated based on the average of a few months), free gifts (like iPads!), and discounted prices when bundled with other products.
The retailers seem reasonably aggressive with their prices and promotions, but while some even advertise “promo codes”, they rarely offer additional discounts on top of their electricity prices.
In general, most of them give just you vouchers or rebates on your nth bill, but some reward you for paying with your UOB or OCBC credit/debit cards too.
I don’t really care — and neither should you — because these promotions are seasonal and change from week to week, roadshow to roadshow. The cheaper prices should be incentive enough for you to make the switch from SP.
What is Transmission Loss Factor?
When the Open Electricity Market first launched, it was really difficult to find out which electricity plan is really the cheapest because some of them were complicated by this troublesome thing called Transmission Loss Factor.
When power is delivered to your home, a certain percentage of it is “lost”, and different retailers dealt with this loss in different ways. Some factored the loss into their rates, while others left it as a surprise for their customers.
However, since November 2018, most retailers have standardised their billing calculation remain competitive. This means that, for those of us not gifted in Maths, we no longer have to do complicated calculations to figure out how much exactly electricity costs. Yay!
Still, these things are always subject to change, so be kiasu and please double-check your contract to make sure. If you’re not sure about how your preferred retailer calculates your consumption, please give them a call.
Just in case you’re curious, here are the published Transmission Loss Factors, which can be found on the OEM website.
|Load||Transmission Loss Factors (from 1 Apr 2020)|
|230kV / 400kV||1.0|
Singapore’s power is delivered at 230V, i.e. the TLF is 1.003876 currently. There are two forms of electricity billing: Either according to the meter, or loss-adjusted billing.
In general, billing according to the metered reading is more straightforward and cheaper than loss adjusted readings. No hidden charge mah. You just pay the X price multiplied by your consumption. For example, $0.2463 X 360 kWh = $88.67. That’s it, no need to think.
For loss-adjusted billing, you need take the TLF and multiply it to your total consumption. So it would instead be: $0.2463 X 360 kWh X 1.003876 = $89.01. That’s about $0.30 more.
This article was first published in MoneySmart.