Parliament: Increased household electricity and gas consumption from April to July due to Covid-19 measures

SINGAPORE – Households’ average monthly electricity and town gas consumption from April to July increased by 16 per cent and 34 per cent respectively compared to the same period last year.

This was due to people spending more time at home during the circuit breaker period and the early stages of Singapore’s phased reopening due to Covid-19, Second Minister for Trade and Industry Tan See Leng said on Wednesday (Oct 14).

Dr Tan was responding to questions in Parliament from Mr Liang Eng Hwa (Bukit Panjang) on the basis for the latest increase in electricity tariffs and gas prices and whether the consumption of electricity and gas has increased as more people work from home.

Dr Tan said that electricity tariffs and gas prices generally move in tandem with global fuel prices and have averaged at around 24.58 cents/kWh and 19.64 cents/kWh respectively since January 2018.

He added that fuel prices rose by 46.6 per cent in the third quarter of 2020 since dipping to their lowest levels in the past 20 years in April 2020, as global economic activity gradually resumed.

As a result, electricity and gas tariffs rose to 22.93 cents/kWh and 18.39 cents/kWh respectively in the fourth quarter of this year.

However, Dr Tan emphasised that electricity and gas tariffs in the third and fourth quarters of 2020 remain lower than in Q1 2020, and are amongst the lowest since January 2018.

“For electricity tariffs in particular, it is worth pointing out that the Q4 2020 tariffs still remain at 11.6 per cent lower than Q1 2020 and 6.7 per cent lower than the average electricity tariff between January 2018 and September 2020,” he said.

He added that around 47 per cent of all households will not be affected by the new tariff prices, as they have already switched to the Open Electricity Market.

Following a suggestion by Mr Liang, Dr Tan also pointed out that it is in the interest of consumers to switch to fixed price package plans on the Open Electricity Market.

“If it is possible, I think most households should look at these plans that are available… because I think in the ensuing quarters ahead, there should continue to be all this volatility and fluctuations. We expect more of it to happen,” he said.

Mr Liang also asked if increased development in alternative energy sources has helped reduce the overall cost of electricity for consumers.

Dr Tan said that Singapore’s natural geographical limitations mean alternative energy sources make up a small proportion of its power generation today.

“However, our Government is actively partnering industry players to deploy more solar power to enhance our energy resilience, our competitiveness, as well as longer-term sustainability,” he said.

He added that the Republic is aiming for a fivefold increase of its solar power capacity from around 0.4 gigawatt-peak (GWp) today to at least 2 GWp by 2030.

This will contribute to around 3 per cent of Singapore’s energy consumption in 2030.

Dr Tan also said that Singaporean households have been provided with more support for their utility bills this year.

For instance, every household with at least one Singapore citizen has received a one-off $100 Solidarity Utilities Credit in their July or August SP Group utility bill.

Dr Tan added that eligible HDB households also received the GST Voucher – USave, which has been doubled this year through a one-off GST Voucher – USave Special Payment.

Additionally, eligible HDB households with five or more members also received a first portion of further GST Voucher – U-Save rebates of between $60 to $100 per household in October, with a second portion to be disbursed in January 2021.

Dr Tan clarified that before this year, the annual amount of GST Voucher – U-Save that households in one- and two-room HDB flats received was equivalent to about three to four months of their utilities bill.

In contrast, he said, with the additional support this year, households in one- and two-room HDB flats will receive support equivalent to at least six to eight months of their utilities bills on average.

Households living in three- and four-room HDB flats will receive support equivalent to at least two to four months of their utilities bills, up from about one to two months of their bills in the past.

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