The electricity market has been hit hard recently due to an unexpected spike in natural gas prices and this has caused a total of four independent electricity retailers – iSwitch Energy (iSwitch), Ohm Energy (Ohm), Best Electricity which serves residential customers, and SilverCloud Energy (SilverCloud), which serves commercial customers – to exit Singapore’s retail electricity market.
Two other electricity retailers have also announced that they would stop accepting new customers (Diamond Electric) and are dropping some existing accounts (Union Power).
If you are an existing customer of one of these providers or worried about what would happen should your existing provider exit the market, here’s what you need to know about what happens when you need to change your open electricity market retailer.
What Happens If Your Electricity Market Retailer Shuts Down
If you are a customer of iSwitch, Ohm, and Best Electricity, expect to be transferred back to SP Group and pay for electricity at the regulated tariff. For commercial consumers under SilverCloud, you will be transferred to the Market Support Services Licensee.
Besides being transferred to SP Group, for iSwitch customers, your security deposit will be used to offset your final bill. If there is any credit balance left after the offset from the final bill, you will be refunded via cheque to your mailing address.
For Ohm and Best Electricity customers, you would be presented with an ex-gratia payment on your final bill. The termination payment is based on “the estimated consumption of your remaining contract period and the difference in pricing between your current contract and a reasonable estimate of the prevailing market rate.”
As the termination of the contract is on the retailers’ end, consumers should not be paying any early contract termination charges. And in Ohm’s and Best Electricity’s case, their customers get a token of appreciation in the form of an ex-gratia payment.
All three exiting retailers also recommend that for existing customers who do not want to revert to SP Group, they can choose to switch over, without penalty, to another retailer.
By observing how iSwitch, Ohm and Best Electricity choose to exit the market, we can see that different companies can choose to terminate your contract differently, with some offering to pay an ex-gratia payment while others may not.
For customers mulling over the choice of switching to another retailer instead of being transferred over to SP Group, you may do so at your retailer’s instructions. For Best Electricity, they have advised their customers to do the switch to another retailer only after 22 Oct 21 when the transfer to SP Group is complete. For iSwitch customers who wish to switch to another retailer before the transfer to SP Group, “You will be able to do so at any time.”
As there’s no mention of how or when Ohm customers can switch to another retailer, as a precautionary measure, Ohm customers should reach out directly to the retailer for more details.
What Happens When Your Contracts Expiring
For Singapore homes whose electrical contracts are expiring, you are advised to check your contract’s terms and conditions (T&Cs) again.
Contracts without automatic renewals
According to the code of conduct for retail electricity set out by Energy Market Authority (EMA), under section “Contracts with Right to Renew”, clause 2.10.3 in simple terms implies that your contract would be auto-renewed based on the same plan type and possibly contract tenure.
Source: Energy Market Authority
Pulling out Geneco Energy as an example, although they will automatically renew your contract on your behalf if you do not actively renew it before it expires, the contract tenure of the renewed plan will differ from your original contract.
Source: Geneco Energy
From here your choices are easy.
1. Continue with your existing retailer if you are happy with their services and satisfied with the terms of the auto-renewed contract,
2. Switch to another retailer that offers a better price or
3. Switch to national power grid SP Group and pay regulated tariff or at wholesale rates.
You should also remember to inform your retailer by the deadline stated in the notification letter to avoid being charged with termination fees. If you choose to sign up with a new retailer, be sure to read your selected price plan’s Fact Sheet and take note of the T&Cs.
Contracts With Automatic Renewals
According to EMA’s guidelines for retailers, “if you choose a contract with automatic renewal, the retailer MUST offer a renewed electricity rate that is lower than the regulated tariff at the point of renewal.” The terms and conditions of the renewed contract will remain the same and in some cases, this might even be better than your existing plan.
However, if you are thinking of switching to another retailer at a new price plan or to SP Group, you will need to inform your retailer by the deadline stated in the notification letter to avoid being charged with termination fees.
If you choose to sign up with a new retailer, be sure to read your selected price plan’s Fact Sheet and take note of the T&Cs.
Closing Your Account
For those of you who are planning to sell your house to move out of Singapore and/or for some reason would no longer need electricity supply to your home(s), you will need to close your utilities account with SP Group. For consumers purchasing electricity from a retailer, you would need to notify them of your account closure prior to terminating it at SP Group.
Depending on where your meter is situated, if it’s outside your premises you would not be required to book an appointment date. If it’s inside your premises, you will need to book an appointment date and an account closure fee may be incurred.
Once your account is successfully closed, a final bill will be totalled up and will be offset with your security deposit. If there are any credit balance left after the offset from the final bill, you will be refunded via your chosen mode of refund within four working weeks. Any GIRO payment arrangement will discontinue after deducting your final bill charges.
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