The managing director of Singapore Power says of the need to look for cheaper fuel, "I am already worried about next year's electricity prices." Obviously that concern was not about the financial impact on Singapore house holds. You see, electricity here is not subsidised because the Government claims it wants to encourage people to conserve energy and cut wastage. Meanwhile one old geezer is allowed to keep the room temperature of his office at 22 degrees Celsius, and that of his bedroom at 19 degrees Celsius. At taxpayers' expense.
If that gets you hot under the collar, note that last year, oil accounted for 17 percent of fuel for electricity production, natural gas for 77 percent, and waste and other sources for 6 percent. Yet that secret formula for calculating the household electricity tariff rate is still indexed against the price of oil.
During 2001-2003, the electricity market was "liberalised" to permit the privatised power stations to compete in providing power to about 10,000 non-residential consumers. The fruit of privatisation is delivered to the industrial giants, not to lesser mortals in their HDB cubicles. Oh yes, we know, the Gahment wants to encourage people to conserve energy.
All the hot air about alternative sources of fuel sources is of no practical value to the average Singaporean if they are simply alternate excuses to hike the electrical bills. The HDB began a $31 million 5-year trial in 2009 to supply solar power for common areas like corridors and stairwells. Meanwhile the residents living and studying inside their flats continue to pay exorbitant prices. And praying that the Town Council charges won't be raised to cover the expensive solar panels.
The really dumb idea has to be buying electricity from remote overseas foreign facilities, considering the pitfalls of grid security and the power source's political sustainability. Indonesia is building coal firing plants at Batam, with intent to sell electricity to Singapore and diverting the cleaner gas fuel to serve it's own Java instead. Are the recent lessons of being held hostage for drinking water from Johore so easily forgotten? Remember how the Japs turned off the pipeline at the Causeway and made the the British soldiers cry uncle? Asian Development Bank energy specialist Zhou Aiming is only scratching the surface of a potentially volatile situation when he pointed out that "countries trading electricity need to iron out interconnection standards and terms of the trade countries", conveniently choosing to skip the political realities.
The Energy Market Authority estimates Singapore currently uses at most one third of it's licensed 9,890 MW power generation capacity. Scrap all the fancy talk, how about giving some of the excess capacity to the citizens? Or is that reserved for the next pre-election hand-out?