In Focus
UTILITIES | Danielle Isaac, Singapore
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Senoko Energy hits over 1,000 signups in first phase launch of open electricity market

They are offering two fixed price plans for 24 and 12 months.

Stefano Boscaglia, Senoko Energy's senior vice president, SME and Consumer Sales, discusses how one of Singapore's oldest generation companies is responding to the complete rollout of Singapore's electricity market which opened on 1 November. Boscaglia shares how customer response has fulfilled their expectations after the Jurong trial as sign-ups already surpassed four digits and how they linked up with banks like UOB and OCBC and groups like NTUC Link to provide rewards programmes to their clients. The official also gives a bullish outlook on the electricity market and cites challenges the company prepares for in the future.

Why should consumers switch to other electricity providers?
With the Open Electricity Market (OEM), consumers can enjoy more choice and flexibility in choosing a price plan. They can benefit from competitive pricing, enhanced service standards and innovative price plans. Unlike the current electricity tariffs that are based on long-term electricity production and delivery costs, electricity retailers can set their own prices based on their business strategies, market conditions and competition. For instance, some of our plans offer consumers up to 17.25% discount on regulated tariffs.

Consumers can also enjoy additional lifestyle benefits by switching electricity providers. For example, we have a special rebate programme with OCBC and UOB where our customers earn rebates when they set up recurring payment with their OCBC or UOB cards.

How are electricity price plans currently structured? Are there hidden fees and what is being done to prevent them?
There are two main types of electricity plans being offered in the OEM for new residential consumers and SME businesses – Fixed Price Plans and Discount Off Tariff (DOT) plans. In fixed price plans, consumers pay a fixed rate for electricity throughout their contract period. With electricity tariffs rising for the fourth time this quarter to 25.82 cents/kWh, these plans enable customers to hedge against the changing energy pricing conditions and minimise the risk of volatility outside of their control. LifePower 24, our 24-month fixed price plan, offers a rate of 18.46 cents/kWh, whilst the 12-month LifePower 12 plan offers a rate of 18.94 cents/kWh.

On the other hand, DOT plans are structured to provide a guaranteed discount on prevailing tariffs every month. Senoko Energy’s DOT plans, for instance, offer up to 17.25% discount on regulated tariffs. Whilst choosing their price plan, consumers should look beyond the low rates or huge discounts as advertised. There may be hidden costs such as security deposit, registration or admin charges that have not been declared upfront.

At Senoko Energy, we believe in transparency and understand how important it is to customers especially during a time when cost of living is rising and creating frustration and doubt. As such, we are offering simple pricing without any hidden costs in our plans. For example, consumers who sign up with Senoko Energy do not have to pay a security deposit or registration fee.

What types of opportunities are there now that Singapore has opened up its retail electricity market? What is your outlook on these opportunities?
Many consumers have noticed that electricity and gas tariffs are steadily on the rise and are looking for ways to counter this. Singapore opening up its retail electricity market provides an opportunity for consumers to take charge of their energy provider and electricity bills, whilst enabling power generation companies like us to engage with customers directly. 

So far, we have seen very positive response from customers in the first phase of the nationwide rollout of the OEM, in line with what we expected after the Jurong pilot. Our customer service hotline has been busy with calls, and we have received great interest about our price plans at our roadshows in these neighbourhoods. Our new sign-ups in the first phase have surged past four digits, and we’re optimistic that this figure will continue to rise as consumers become more accustomed to the concept and more aware of the benefits of switching.

How will Senoko Energy distinguish itself from other retail players in the Singapore market?
We have in place a robust, multi-pronged marketing strategy, where we actively engage consumers through roadshows, digital marketing and even staff referrals. Being on-ground and in tune with consumers is a great opportunity to understand their needs and helps us tailor our offerings to suit these needs as the market develops and becomes more sophisticated. We have set up an online platform where consumers can view the different price plans available and have a hassle-free sign up experience, as well as an app where they can manage and track their energy consumption. With such tools, we want to provide consumers with choices, visibility and control over their energy consumption and spending, and at the same time make the process of switching as seamless as possible.

We are also working with organisations such as NTUC Link to bring about greater benefits and programmes for our consumers. Residential consumers who are Plus! cardholders will earn LinkPoints for every dollar of their electricity bill spent with us. Residential consumers do not need to pay a security deposit, making the switch as seamless and low cost as possible. As Singapore’s largest power station by licensed capacity with over 40 years of power generation experience, Senoko Energy is well-placed to support our customers with sustainable power supply and efficient solutions to manage and reduce energy consumption. 

What are the kinds of challenges in the open electricity market that the company prepares for and how are you planning to address them?
Since the OEM is a new concept in Singapore, consumers may be hesitant to switch out of the incumbent SP Group due to uncertainty about the reliability of supply with a retailer. Some customers are concerned about billing interruption and bill accuracy. SP Group will continue to play a key role, where they will continue to own the meters and provide meter reading services. As a retailer, Senoko Energy has made significant investment to implement automated backend systems to capture the meter read and calculate consumption accurately. Our customers do not have to worry about interruption and billing accuracy when they switch. 

Some of the customers who wish to switch are not the owners of their electricity accounts and cannot authorise the account transfer. However, our sales staff are well equipped to help customers identify the correct owner and help facilitate the transfer. What makes Senoko Energy stand out is our level of sales and customer support. Customers can reach our staff easily through the website, via the phone or at our roadshows at their convenience.

Others are worried that power supply to their homes will be interrupted as a result of switching. However, consumers will continue to enjoy the same reliable electricity supply regardless of which electricity retailer they choose, as SP Group continues to operate the national power grid and deliver electricity to consumers. The only change is their billing and point of contact for their electricity bill. We are working to create awareness and educate the public about the reliability of electricity supply with retailers. We will continue to work closely with consumers to make the switching process a better, effective one.

What can we look forward to in the brand and the company’s near future?
Senoko Energy aims to create greater value for our customers and provide them with everyday advantages that make their lives easier and more convenient. As we operate in the retail electricity market, we are focused on delivering a personalised, seamless customer experience and relevant products and services, where and when customers want them.

As part of this goal, we launched a customer app this month to enable our customers to manage their electricity accounts on the go and take charge of their energy consumption. We are also digitising the back-end billing and customer operation processes to cut error rate and ensure a smooth customer experience. We are focused on being a long-term energy partner to consumers in Singapore and will continue to listen to their needs and adjust our offerings to provide them the best value.

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