Telco giant Singtel is entering the electricity retail business for the first time, following in the footsteps of rivals StarHub and M1, although the former pulled out after a brief foray.
Through new division Singtel Power, the telco hopes to entice customers with electricity plans which include discounts on broadband services and mobile phones.
Singtel is tying up with YTL PowerSeraya's integrated energy provider unit Geneco, similar to M1's tie-up with Keppel Electric.
With customers being able to sign up for the plans in its retail stores as well as on its website, Singtel's consumer division chief executive Yuen Kuan Moon said: "We are excited to be a convenient one-stop shop for their power and communications needs."
In March last year, StarHub joined forces with electricity retailer Sunseap to sell clean energy subscription plans, but StarHub subsequently pulled the plug on the programme on Sept 21, having exited the partnership.
M1 and Keppel announced their joint venture on Oct 31 last year, and began providing electricity plans on Nov 1, when the Open Electricity Market (OEM) was launched.
Singtel hopes to leverage YTL PowerSeraya's industry experience, while YTL Power is looking to benefit from Singtel's wide reach.
YTL Power's executive director Yeoh Keong Hann said: "Working with Singtel, we aim to offer Singaporeans easy access to better energy plans, with the option of value-added services from Singtel."
Singtel is offering a rate of 17.98 cents per kWh for a fixed-rate plan on a 24-month contract, and customers on a Singtel 1Gbps fibre broadband plan will enjoy a month of free broadband and an $80 mobile handset discount.
M1 is offering a year's free subscription to the 5GB for $5 mobile data plan, or two months free for its fibre broadband 1Gbps plan, as part of its electricity offering. It charges the same rate for electricity as Singtel for its 24-month contract.
Partnerships between telcos and electricity providers make for good business and each can leverage the other's strengths, and the bundles which telcos can provide could give them the edge in the electricity retail market, said Professor Subodh Gautam Mhaisalkar, executive director of the Energy Research Institute at Nanyang Technological University.
"Partnerships with companies strong in data analytics could bring new innovations that could benefit customers," he added.
The OEM, which was piloted in Jurong last April, allows households and businesses to buy electricity produced by power plants through a retailer with a price plan that best meets their needs.
There are 13 retailers, including Geneco, in the Energy Market Authority's approved list of retailers. The OEM, which currently covers the west, north and some parts of central Singapore, will cover the entire island by May.
Singtel fibre customer Christina Yeo, 47, who lives in Choa Chu Kang, is hoping to benefit from extra savings on her electricity usage. But she hopes StarHub will also return to the electricity market so that her son's family "can enjoy discounts on power too".
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.