Abating the uproar over electricity and gas price increases

There was much weeping and gnashing of teeth with a tinge of hue-and-cry and topped with negative sentiments all round regarding the end-June 2019 announcements of increases in electricity and gas tariffs.

The context is that for households, the electricity tariff will rise to 24.22 cents per kWh, from 1 Jul to 30 Sep. This means that the average monthly electricity bill for families living in four-room Housing Board flats will increase by S$5.20. Likewise, gas tariffs for households will increase and households will need to pay 19.10 cents per kWh from 1 Jul to 30 Sep.

With the utility tariff increases coming in light of the GST vouchers and cash rebates given by the Government later in August, many Singaporeans have compared the situation as akin to giving Singaporeans a chicken wing only to take back the whole chicken. ie. While the Government gives cash handouts with one hand, the Government takes back the cash with the other hand.

The fact is that what the increases mean to each household, generously overestimating figures, is an approximate increase of about 35 cents per day (or about $10 per month) holding the daily usage equal! Money is hard-earned for sure, but the situation should be viewed in context. For example, reviewing the historical data of electricity and gas in Singapore, electricity prices between 2014 and 2015 were on par with the current 24.22 cents per kWh while gas prices between 2011 and 2014 were consistently in the 20 cents per kWh. There have been some bad years of high pricing, but there have also been several years of low pricing.

In addition, comparing the utilities pricing in regional countries that are on par with Singapore in terms of infrastructure, South Australia tops the list with just under A$0.50 per kWh. Using another comparison point – the European Union average is just over A$0.30 per kWh, while US consumers, pay between A$0.10 and A$0.20. Assuming the Australia dollar to be on par with the Singapore dollar, our costs in Singapore are rather palatable. Also, Singapore buys gas from neighbouring countries which is then used to generate electricity to power the country. Ever so often, certain neighbours may threaten to increase costs of everything Singapore purchases for no good reason.

The current Singapore Government isn’t daft and is keenly aware that cost-of-living issues will cost electoral votes. That is why while Singapore is subject to external pricing pressures, alternative are available to save costs. With electricity being the largest contributor to utility bills, the Open Electricity Market is a sure way to shave about 30 per cent off your electricity bills. There are more than 10 companies who offer different price plans and contract term periods. However, the consistent thread across them is that the price per unit will be significantly cheaper compared to the price offered by Singapore Power Group.

Delay no longer. Once the experience of savings begin, the weeping will stop.