S’porean family shops in open electricity market, cuts bills by 30%

Competition can be good sometimes.

Sulaiman Daud | Sponsored | December 06, 2018, 06:52 PM

Wang Zhili had a difficult start when first trying to switch to a different electricity retailer for his household on the open market.

But it wasn’t because the process was confusing, nor did it take him a long time.

In fact, the biggest obstacle was convincing his parents to make the switch. Said Wang:

"They hesitated, they were thinking ‘Is it safe?’ And my parents’ mindset a bit old-fashioned, they asked if (there’s a) power trip what happens, if the power goes down, who can we call."

Wang, a 30-year-old IT Engineer, had just moved into a flat of his own in Bukit Batok with his wife and young daughter.

But about three months ago, they were living with his parents in a house in Jurong.

Wang first learnt of the new Open Electricity Market (OEM) scheme after the announcement by the Energy Market Authority (EMA) in Oct. 2017.

He decided to try it out during the soft launch in April 2018. After some persuasion, his parents relented and let him check out the available options.

Instead of having to write a letter, or go down to an office in person, he did everything online.

"It’s a very simple process. I did a price comparison first among all the retailers online."

Wang visited EMA’s website, which then linked him to the Open Electricity Market price comparison tool, where he could compare prices by the different companies.

He decided to sign up for Ohm Energy, which was easier than he thought. Said Wang:

"It took me about three minutes. At most five. Just need to submit your IC and a few other details."

Pic by Sulaiman Daud.

Wang said it took a month for the switch to be made, but once it was implemented, he noticed a definite reduction in the electricity bill.

However, other customers might need to wait just five business days, once their preferred retailer informs SP Group to make the switch.

Before changing providers, the household’s electricity bill was slightly over $100.

Afterwards, Wang estimated that it dropped to about $68, a cut of about 30 per cent.

But what about his parents’ concerns over disruptions to the power supply? Wang said that they didn’t experience any.

However, due to their concerns, he did some research on his own.

"When I wanted to (make the switch), I also had doubts. I went to search (online) and then found out that these (retailers) still get the same electricity from the same grid."

Wang described the different packages offered by his chosen retailer, and said that he settled on the fixed rate for 24 months.

As Ohm has engaged SP Group for billing services, it uses the same billing system. So Wang and his family receives the same familiar billing letter as before.

The only difference is a little note at the bottom stating that his electricity services are now provided by OHM.

"There’s less hassle...to me, everything combined better lah. You get to see your water, electricity, gas and waste management bills all in one letter. It’s easier to see."

Pic by Sulaiman Daud.

When Wang, his wife and their daughter got their own place, he naturally decided to sign up with Ohm Energy again.

He retrieved his utilities bill. For the month of September to October 2018, he was billed $69.11 for his electricity usage.

Wang estimated that like his parents’ household, he saves about 30 per cent on his bill.

Another thing Wang liked about Ohm was their after-sales service. Wang described how they were helpful when he called and asked about opting-in for a smart meter.

"They say ‘Can, no problem, not an issue’. Other companies they say ‘please write in to us’. I ask a question and you ask me to write in, then why would I call your hotline?"

Wang thought more could be done to let other Singaporeans know about the scheme and potential savings, but he did have a word of advice for those thinking of making the switch.

"First question I will ask them is ‘What is your consumption (level like)?’ Second question, ‘What kind of billing do you prefer?’ Third, do you prefer service, or a cheaper rate?"

Other Singaporeans will be asking themselves the same question once the OEM is extended to their zones.

At first, only households and businesses in Jurong could try it out under the soft launch. From Nov. 1 this year, households in the West and North of Singapore had the power to choose who to buy electricity from.

Top image by Sulaiman Daud.

This sponsored post by Energy Market Authority made us think of all the money we could be saving if we lived in the West or North.