Selecting your Electricity retailer

This post is an attempt to help you choose an electricity retailer for residential connections. The comparison is time-consuming. I attempt to list a few standard plans by considering the most important factor, price. If you have already chosen a retailer, please leave a comment below. Share this post with those who are yet to make the switch.
Updated on 26th Oct 2019

Background

Open Electricity Market is a government initiative to liberalize the retail power market in Singapore. Thirteen companies are offering various fixed and flexible rates. Government-owned SP Group/SP Services1 will still manage the power grid and distribution. A recent statistics suggest that 46% of households switched to a private retailer to enjoy the savings.2

This post is an attempt to help you decide to switch and choose a retailer for a residential connection. As the number of retailers and options is relatively high, the comparison is time-consuming and confusing. However, I attempt to list popular options by considering the most important factor – price. If you want more information on a specific plan, please refer to the retailer website after reading the “Additional Information” section below.

A glance at standard price plans

The current rate charged by SP Services is ‘regulated tariff’ which is adjusted each quarter based on fuel cost (see “Additional information” section). The regulated tariff for Jul-Sep-2020 is 20.97 cents per kWh. The standard pricing plans offered by retailers are fixed-rate (for six months, 1, 2 or 3 years) and fixed discount rate (a fixed % discount, e.g., 23% on the regulated tariff).

For a quick comparison, I considered a monthly electricity consumption of 300 kWh (National average for private apartments is around 530 kWh, and a 3/4 room HDB is approximately 300 kWh)3. Sembcorp has the cheapest rate for 24 months fixed-rate standard plan inclusive of rebate. Please note that NOT all rebates are readily available to you online. Hence call the retailer for promotion codes in such cases. (The information provided is correct as of 1st July 2020). Download the ‘DIY Comparison’ Excel sheet at the bottom of this post to input your average monthly consumption for a more accurate comparison of savings.

If you believe that global oil price/ regulated tariff will be declining in the coming months, you can opt for a fixed discount plan. Most of the retailers offer around 22% savings from the regulated tariff. The same five companies (Tuas Power, Sunseap, Sembcorp, Geneco, and Keppel) provide cheaper options for 24 months contract for 300 kWh usage per month.

As retailers are providing around 22% discount on regulated tariffs, there is no reason to delay the switch. However, if you are thinking of relocating abroad, you might want to continue with the SP group or consider shorter contracts with the retailer. You can even consider contract-less plans such as 20% discount by Diamond electric. There is no termination/relocation fee charged for relocation (detailed comparison below). SP group guarantees an uninterrupted power supply in the event of a retailer to cease the service. Thus, there is no apparent risk in switching to a retailer. The application process is online and straightforward.


Additional information

As the regulated tariff for the quarter is derived based on fuel cost in the preceding quarter, changes in international oil prices dictate regulated tariff (see chart below). If you expect the oil price to slide for the next few months, you can choose the fixed discount plan. Otherwise, the fixed rate is for you. Oil price could fluctuate based on various scenarios 4

If you are looking for a shorter contract duration, you should check out 12 months contract from Ohm and Diamond as they offer cheapest with a 25% discount on the regulated tariff. They also have cash rebates on these plans. Fixed-rate plan for 12 months from iSwitch has the lowest kWh rate, but the $50 rebate by Sunseap makes them cheapest for now in terms of total savings as of July 2019.

Open Electricity Market website lists all price plans provided by the retailers.5 You can see that there are non-standard plans considering weekend vs. weekday consumption, peak vs. off-peak time consumption, etc.


FAQs

You might want to ask these to the retailers before finalizing the plan. I added my comments to each.

  1. Can I get the promotion code for the rebate? An additional discount is given on the phone or at roadshows. Compare online offers before you signup at roadshows. A few retailers offer cash rebates from $20 to $60 in tie-up with credit card companies. I had added $40 for FREE Air-con Servicing offered by iSwitch when I computed total rebate.
  2. Is there a service fee?
    iSwitch has a service fee of $5.297/ month for their 24 months plan (they are classifying two years plan as non-standard plan!), which makes a difference in total savings.
  3. What is the Early termination fee (ETF)?
    iSwitch, Sembcorp, and Tuas Power waive the fee if you are relocating outside of Singapore (provide valid documents). Most of the retailers charge ETF based on house type. See the plan factsheet for details. A consolidated list is given below. I have combined some house types for simplicity.
  4. Is there a relocation fee if you are moving to new premises in Singapore?
    Most retailers don’t charge relocation fee. Union Power has a fee of $26.75. Some of the retailers charge the ETF and refund once you start a new contract on a new premise. There is an SP Group fee of $10.7 for account closure in such cases.
  5. Do I get a new bill?
    Most retailers provide separate bills. Ohm and Tuas Power have integrated billing with SP Group. All retailers give rebates on credit card payment (e.g., 1% for ‘POSB Everyday card’, 5% rebate on ‘UOB One card’ etc.).
  6. Is there a security deposit?
    65% of the security deposit with SP Group is used to offset outstanding bills with SP Group. You need to pay the security deposit to the new retailer if their plan demands a deposit (e.g., iSwitch requires a deposit of $30-$90 based on house type). However, few retailers don’t demand a security deposit. Singaporeans and PRs are not required to pay a security deposit for Keppel.
  7. Is there a carbon offset to be paid?
    Ohm has an optional fee charged for consumers opting to pay carbon offset credit. If you want 100% clean solar energy, you can opt for a 100% solar scheme from Sunseap and still save about 10% on the regulated tariff.
  8. Should I install a new meter?
    The retailers use the same meters. However, if you opt for smart meters/ (AMI), there is an optional installation fee of around $43. Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) meter provides reading at half-hourly intervals 6.
  9. What are the other charges?
    Retailers charge various other fees such as paper bill fees ($1.07), GIRO rejection fees, etc. E.g., Pacific light allows you to change the Price plan by paying a fee of $53.50.

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singapore_Power
  2. https://www.ema.gov.sg/OEM_Statistics.aspx
  3. https://www.spgroup.com.sg/what-we-do/billing
  4. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-06-28/jpmorgan-flags-risk-of-oil-crash-if-trump-and-xi-don-t-deliver
  5. https://compare.openelectricitymarket.sg
  6. https://www.ema.gov.sg/Metering_Options.aspx