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Nikkei Markets

Singapore electricity market deregulation attracts DBS, StarHub

DBS launched an electricity marketplace that will let households switch electricity provider on Tuesday.   © Reuters

SINGAPORE (Nikkei Markets) -- Singapore's move to liberalize its retail electricity market has attracted unlikely players such as financial giant DBS Group and mobile phone operator StarHub as the barriers separating different industries continue to crumble.

DBS, Singapore's largest lender, and StarHub, the city-state's number two telecom company, will use their stronger brand names and retail networks to sell electricity to consumers who did not have a choice of power producers in the past.

On Tuesday, DBS launched an electricity marketplace that will let households switch electricity providers without any service disruption once liberalization of the city-state's retail electricity sector begins.

Over 100,000 households in the western suburb of Jurong will be able to use the DBS system once the pilot phase begins in April, although they will be limited to a choice of just two providers in the initial period.

"DBS Electricity Marketplace exemplifies how we are reimagining banking, using digital technology and innovation to make life simpler for our customers," Jeremy Soo, the bank's consumer banking head for Singapore, said in a statement.

StarHub, meanwhile, said on Monday it will work with solar power firm Sunseap to provide electricity to consumers in Singapore, starting with the launch of two clean energy subscription plans.

"As part of this joint operation, StarHub and Sunseap are collaborating on various fronts which include customer service, billing and sales, to ensure a fuss-free experience for households," said StarHub, which also provides cable television and broadband services. "Both companies are also exploring opportunities in smart energy and Internet of Things solutions to bring continued benefits to customers."

Singapore plans to give households and small businesses a choice of electricity suppliers by end-2018 as part of a plan to deregulate the energy sector. The rollout will begin in the Jurong area on April 1.

Singapore's Energy Market Authority said 14 electricity providers are participating in the pilot phase, including units of infrastructure companies such as Singapore's Keppel Corp. and Sembcorp Industries, Malaysia's YTL Group, and China's Huaneng.

Consultants and academics have long identified the electricity market as ripe for disruption, citing the rise of new players like renewal energy providers as well as innovation in the management, allocation, and pricing of spare capacity that can be distributed over smart grids and other networks.

Many energy providers have also failed to invest in branding, leaving the incumbents such as YTL Power Seraya and Tuas Power more vulnerable to newcomers with greater marketing savvy.

--Kevin Lim

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