Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Shut It Off !

Electricity Tariff has recently inflicted much pain and agony to many.

On 29 Sep 08, Singapore Power (SP) announced that Electricity Tariff would be revised for the period 1 Oct 08 to 31 Dec 08. This is definitely not the first time SP has done the same but this is a very badly timed one when an economic crisis is said to be looming.

With this rise, Singaporeans will expect
an increase of 21% in their electricity bills in the last quarter of 2008. This naturally brought about a huge uproar when consumers are already burdened by record inflation.

SP explained that they are just the 'delivery man', transporting electricity from the power generation companies (gencos) to the consumers without any mark-up. SP's revenue comes from the 'delivery fee' and meter-reading service. What this means is that, for every dollar we pay, $0.17 goes to SP and the rest goes to the gencos. SP emphasized that they do not decide on the tariff.

If SP is innocent, who is the culprit?

The formula for tariff is set by the regulatory body,
the Energy Market Authority (EMA). The mechanism behind the formula, even if it is explained, is not an easily understood one.

So, now you have it, the whole picture is hazy and, may I say, shrouded in secrecy?

SP and EMA may have their reasons behind the hike but to the ordinary folks, the whole matter sounds like a bad-taste joke. It appears even more ridiculous when, at about the same time, Hong Kong reduced their tariff by 3%.

If we compare ourselves with other parts of the world, Singapore is No.2 in terms of tariff hike since 2005. Well! We are ranked high up on a chart again but this time round for a wrong reason.

Even though SP and EMA are now put under a mega-watt spotlight, nothing much is expected to change other than a fatter utility bill for Q4 08. I hope the public scrutiny will prompt the gencos to work harder in improving their efficiency to bring down the costs for consumers.

Meanwhile, perhaps we can do some self-help to cut down power consumption. I take this as a good time to reflect and rid those power-wasting habits. We are usually conscious of these bad habits and we can kick them if we want to. How could switching off the lights when not needed be so difficult? Watch the guzzlers and use your water heater, iron, aircon and water-kettle sensibly. It's mostly common sense.

If you need more help than common sense, a new gadget is now available to monitor exactly how much power you are using at home. No, I am not referring to your utility meter outside the door.

This little device measures electricity consumption and displays the amount of power and how much it costs on a sleek portable box with a digital screen. It glows red when households use more power than normal or blue when they are being energy-efficient.

With this little helper around the house, you are fully aware of what is costing you and at how much. You may find yourself consciously trying to get the reading down as low as possible. Ya, that's what I call a 'conscience reminder'.

Well, before you can save a cent from your electricity bill, you will have to fork out more than S$200 for this gadget. Compared to a fashionable toy like iPhone, this is a much better investment. (OK! I am bias!)

That's all folks... gotta pull off the plug now to save some electricity!

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