Top 5 customer queries on switching to an electricity retailer

(Getty Images file photo)

SINGAPORE — With 1 May marking the last zonal roll out of the Open Electricity Market (OEM), consumers islandwide now have the option of switching to an electricity retailer of their choice instead of purchasing electricity at the regulated tariff.

According to figures released by the Energy Market Authority in February 2019, 40 per cent of households made the switch during the soft launch from 1 April to 31 October last year; about 25 per cent across Zone 1 since November last year, and about 18 per cent in Zone 2 since January this year.

Many consumers are confused about the process of switching to a retailer and have questioned the price difference between the regulated tariff and retailers’ pricing.

SP Group’s customer service team has received close to 10,000 queries since the soft launch. These are the top five queries and answers by Chuah Kee Heng, CEO of SP Services:

1. Why can’t SP charge lower than retailers?

As the national grid operator, SP is responsible for ensuring a reliable supply of electricity for all consumers. The regulated tariff approved by Energy Market Authority (EMA) looks at the long-term cost of producing electricity and factors in the cost (24 per cent of the regulated tariff) of maintaining and operating the grid. Despite tariff rates fluctuating, this component has remained stable for the last 10 years, where it has ranged between 5.7 cents and 6.25 cents. On the other hand, retailers purchase electricity in bulk from the wholesale electricity market and have the flexibility to vary prices and business strategies to reflect current market conditions, level of competition and short-term cost of producing electricity.

2. When will my security deposit be refunded after I have switched to a retailer?

Your security deposit is divided between your electricity and non-electricity accounts. 65 per cent of your security deposit is allocated to your electricity account, which will be used to offset any outstanding charges with SP Group. The balance, if any, will be used to offset future non-electricity charges. Upon switching to a retailer, you may request for a refund of the balance in your electricity account, which will take about 2 to 3 weeks to process.

3. I received a message informing me to submit meter reading upon switching. Is it compulsory for me to submit and how do I submit?

It is recommended to submit your own meter reading upon switching to ensure that your bill reflects your actual consumption. Otherwise, your first bill with the retailer will be estimated based on your previous electricity consumption. Upon switching, you can submit your meter reading via the Open Electricity Market website or through the SP Utilities app.

4. Why am I being billed twice? I’ve switched to a retailer.

You will receive two bills upon switching to a retailer, one from your retailer for your electricity consumption, and another from SP Group for water, gas and refuse. However, if your chosen retailer partners SP Group for billing-on-behalf services, you will receive one consolidated bill for electricity, water, gas and refuse.

5. Is an AMI meter chargeable and when will my meter be changed?

All electricity meters will be changed to AMI meters progressively. If you wish to opt-in for an AMI meter before that, there is a charge of $40 (excluding GST).

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