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New power options for Jurong consumers

14 approved retailers start their marketing today; tie-ups with telcos and banks among deals on offer

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Fourteen retailers have been approved to take part in the pilot launch of the Open Electricity Market (OEM) in Jurong, which allows households to choose who they buy electricity from.

Singapore

HOUSEHOLDS and small businesses in Jurong will know from Monday what new options they have in buying electricity, as a price comparison website is launched and approved retailers start marketing their electricity plans.

Fourteen retailers have been approved to take part in the pilot launch of the Open Electricity Market (OEM) in Jurong, which allows households to choose who they buy electricity from. The pilot starts from April 1, and will benefit about 108,000 household and 9,500 business accounts.

The list comprises seven companies with power generation arms - Hyflux Energy, Keppel Electric, PacificLight Energy, Sembcorp Power, Senoko Energy Supply, Seraya Energy and Tuas Power - and seven independent retailers - Best Electricity, Diamond Electric, iSwitch, Ohm Energy, Red Dot Power, Sun Electric, Sunseap.

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The number of approved companies for Jurong OEM surprised at least a few in the industry, who had been expecting a shorter list.

"It was a little bit more than expected," said Best Electricity deputy general manager Terence Neo, who had expected a number of just slightly over 10.

There are currently 31 electricity retailers who are licenced to sell to businesses which consume above 2MWh a month (about S$400 in an electricity bill).

Those participating in the Jurong OEM, however, had to undergo a separate round of approval by the Energy Market Authority (EMA).

This approval process, which took place over several months, included questions ranging from the company's billing infrastructure to cybersecurity protection to their marketing programmes. The 14 retailers are also restricted from cold-calling or going from door to door to sell their plans, The Business Times understands.

Among the approved companies, Mr Neo observed that there was a "good mix" of independent retailers providing differentiated solutions.

For instance, Sunseap and Sun Electric are focused on solar, he noted, while Diamond Electric provides demand response solutions. He expects that Best Electricity, which is part of the Prime Group that includes Prime Taxi, will compete on price with the rest.

From March 19, an embargo on marketing by these retailers will be lifted, freeing them to start promoting their electricity plans. A price comparison tool run by SP Power will also be made available on openelectricitymarket.sg.

EMA, which is stepping up its consumer education efforts, said consumers in Jurong will receive a booklet on the OEM from Monday as well. EMA plans to hold a roadshow with all 14 retailers on April 21-22 at Westgate.

Many of the 14 retailers told BT they were caught by surprise on the March 19 embargo-lift date, as they were told about this only in a meeting two weeks ago.

Those that have planned advertisement campaigns had therefore booked these advertising slots only from April onwards. Social media marketing efforts, however, will begin in earnest from Monday.

As the retailers gear up to battle in the Jurong OEM, they are planning to distinguish themselves in different ways, including through tie-ups with telcos and banks.

Seraya Energy on Friday March 16 launched its new retail energy brand Geneco, which it says is recognised in the United Kingdom for its recycling and renewable energy. Geneco UK and Seraya Energy are part of the Malaysian YTL Group of companies.

The Geneco brand has been chosen for its eco-friendly ethos, though the group will launch electricity plans with solar elements only at a later stage, a spokesman told BT.

Solar firm Sunseap and telco StarHub are tying up to offer residents in Jurong a choice of two clean energy subscription plans starting next month. This will allow households to switch out of their existing electricity retailer without disruption to their supply, and go solar without the hassle of owning or installing solar panels. Consumers will be free to choose their desired electricity retailers according to their usage patterns and the prices offered.

iSwitch, meanwhile, is tying up with DBS to showcase its electricity price plans in an online marketplace on its internet banking platform.

This will allow DBS or POSB customers to easily compare different electricity price plans and sign up online through the DBS portal, with the option to select payment via Giro or credit card, said iSwitch managing director David Maher.

Red Dot Power, which offers solutions ranging from demand response to solar projects and will soon include electric vehicle-sharing services, hopes its integrated offerings will set it apart from its competitors.

Best Electricity is offering upfront cash rebate for one of its electricity plans, while PacificLight is counting on its "customer-centric approach", including innovative names for its plans like While You Were Sleeping, for an off-peak electricity plan.

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