Singapore's Open Electricity Market, a consumer perspective

Singapore regions

On 1 March 2019 in the East area of Singapore where I live, the Open Electricity Market (aka energy unbundling) launched. I've been purchasing electricity from the sole electrical grid operator in Singapore: SPgroup (aka Singapore Power). Now there are several other companies pitching cheaper electricity using the same government-owned electricity infrastructure.

Why doesn't SPgroup just give me cheaper electricity like these other companies?

Go to the electricity market

That was my first thought and on the 3rd of May someone pointed out I could just sign up for Wholesale electricity price, which I did.

On June the 3rd, a new meter was installed at my home, which now reports my "real time usage" to SPgroup. As I understand it, on this wholesale price plan, I get charged for the power I consume at a variable supply/demand wholesale electricity price, defined every 30 minutes.

So how much am I being charged right now?

Real time delay

As I type this, I am on the wholesale plan with SPgroup. I can see at 10:30AM that at 4AM I used 0.404 kWh via the App. Why the 6 hour delay!? 🤦 My own usage is not on their Website https://services.spservices.sg. With the App you can view them with delay, but they are not downloadable/scrapable, aka there is no API for my usage data to better understand my energy consumption!

And what was the price of that kWh at 4AM? This is the crazy part. SPgroup can't tell me. They point to the Energy Market Company, which requires a $$$ Data Subscription. In response I filed a Dataset request: Wholesale electricity price.

As a consumer I have been cross referencing my own Energy usage metrics taken with a current cost device, but now with this new system, I am unable to determine if my bill is correct. Because I don't know the price I am paying for electricity now.

Bills compared

The old bill (combined with water) was quite simple for electricity:

0.2279SGD per kWh

The new Wholesale electricity Price bill has many new line items, which I don't understand:

My first wholesale electricity bill

Focusing just on the kWh price, ignoring transmission charges et al, it's now 0.0929, down from 0.2279SGD per kWh. That's a 84% difference! Pretty drastic.

But remember that final rate 0.0929 is totally opaque. It should be a usage weighted half hourly average of the wholesale price at those half hourly intervals. It could be so low because I consumed most of the kW/h units over the early hours of the morning. I simply don't know the pricing was at those past intervals were AND what SPgroup registered as my usage then via my new usage sending digital meter.

Conclusion

The wholesale "realtime" (actually 30 minute intervals) price needs to be properly exposed as my request asks, as well as my "real time" usage which only SPgroup authoratively (I know too, roughly) knows. Right now I'm basically in the dark about how much I'm paying for energy.

Cynically I suppose we are in a "honeymoon period". I suspect the current low energy prices are to incentivise consumers to switch to the myriad of other energy companies, who currently just buy energy from SPgroup as I do. Energy prices will rise in my mind, no doubt.

Nonetheless I hope this new https://www.openelectricitymarket.sg landscape lays down a (private, capitalistic) competitive foundation for new (cleaner) sources of energy. Just wish choice involved less confusion and frustration by consumers like myself.

If you like many Singaporean households do not go through the rigmarole of switching, you will be penalised!

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