Singapore – Residents of some condominiums can expect to spend more on maintenance of common areas due to higher electricity bills.
Condominium managers and dealership firms told the Straits Times that the hardest hit were mid-size private residential properties abandoned by electric retailers and exposed to the volatile wholesale market.
Many have chosen to reconfigure electrical systems to cut costs while others are looking for fixed price plans.
Nicholas Chiu, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Strata Title Corporation (MCST) for Changi Green Condominiums, was aghast when the building’s electricity bill tripled from $6,500 to $19,500 in December.
Since the former MCST retailer folded in November last year, it has switched to buying electricity from the wholesale market — where prices fluctuate every half hour — and is in “firefighting mode” to secure its price plan, he said.
“We cut as much as we can, and the remaining use covers essential things like CCTV and walkway lighting,” said Mr. Zhou, adding that the 256-unit property had adopted energy-efficient lighting eight months ago and turned off the air. Air conditioners in some facilities to save electricity.
“If we cannot find a contract that lasts more than a month and electricity bills continue to rise over the next nine months, STEM will propose an increase in the management fund’s contribution to cover costs and put it to a vote,” he added.
Wholesale electricity prices have started to rise here as a result of the global energy crisis since September last year, spurred by increased demand around the world, interruptions in production due to cold winter months and disruption of pipeline natural gas supplies from Indonesia.
This resulted in six electricity retailers going out of the open market between October and December last year, and two more prematurely ending some of their customers’ contracts, affecting about 9 percent of all electricity consumer accounts, Second Minister for Trade and Industry Tan said. Watch Ling in Parliament this month.
While residential and non-residential accounts using a monthly average of less than 4 megawatt-hours (MWh) have the option of switching to regulated tariffs from SP Services, private residential properties such as Changi Green that exceed the limit cannot do so.
In response to inquiries about the rationale for the 4 megawatt-hour threshold, the Energy Market Authority (EMA) said the arrangement “protects consumers from homes and small businesses because they do not have the bargaining power to negotiate for better retail prices that large electricity consumers can enjoy.” .
The authorities have provided some support to protect electricity users from the fluctuations.
In December, EMA launched a Temporary Electrical Contracting Support (Trecs) program to help non-residential accounts consuming 4 megawatt-hours or more to obtain one-month fixed-rate electricity plans and additional retail plans with “significant fixed-rate components”.
The scheme allows generating companies to take advantage of EMA’s backup fuel facility to generate electricity, thus reducing risks from natural gas disruptions to pipelines.
In the face of massive demand, authorities increased the capacity of the scheme in January and this month extended it for another three months until May.
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