EMA continuously reviews and improves our rules and regulations to serve our stakeholders better by lowering compliance costs and cutting red-tape.

Some of the pro-enterprise initiatives that we have implemented include simplifying market rules for solar PV installations to facilitate new business models; giving businesses greater choice of electricity retailers; and introducing lifetime licensing for electrical and gas service workers. The details are appended below:

1. Supporting New Business Ideas

Facilitating innovative business models in the energy industry

With Singapore's evolving energy industry and business needs, EMA reviewed the regulatory framework to facilitate new business models such as solar leasing and the entry of independent electricity retailers. It included making it easier for businesses to sell excess solar electricity back to the power grid.

Implemented since July 2015, these initiatives have lowered the barriers to entry for new businesses, cut red tape and reduced compliance costs. This initiative won the Public Sector Pro-Enterprise Initiative Gold Award in 2015.

Facilitating the entry of new electricity retailers with innovative business models

As the retail electricity market is opened up for competition, the participation of more electricity retailers leads to greater competition. To facilitate the entry of new retailers into the market, EMA made the following improvements:

  • Streamlined the process to allow for concurrent instead of a sequential processing of retail licence applications to EMA, and the implementation of the Electronic Business Transaction (EBT) system with SP Services. Prospective retailers are now allowed to implement the EBT system in parallel to their retail licence being reviewed by EMA. The entire process has been shortened from 10.5 months to 4 months after the review.
  • Provided greater clarity to prospective retailers by publishing a “Retailers’ Guide” to explain the process and steps involved to become an electricity retailer.

This initiative which took effect from November 2015 enables new retailers to begin operations in the contestable market in a shorter time.

2. Simplifying Rules & Regulations

Lifetime licences for electrical, gas, and cable detection workers

Licensed workers for electrical, gas service and cable detection work previously had to renew their licences upon expiry, ranging from one to three years. Renewal fees ranged from $30 to $80. For the licensed workers’ convenience and to reduce business costs, EMA implemented a Lifetime Licensing Scheme. This scheme, effective from 1 August 2014, has helped to save time and licence fees for more than 5,000 workers in the industry.

Recognising the experience of workers applying for an electrician or gas service worker licence

Previously, applicants for the Electrician or Gas Service Worker Licence must have at least two years of relevant experience and a National Trade Certificate relevant to electrical work or a Builder Certificate in Plumbing and Pipefitting.

To widen the talent pool for businesses and give consumers a greater choice of workers to engage, the regulations were revised with effect from 1 February 2015 to allow any person with at least 10 years of relevant local practical experience to apply for an electrician or gas service worker licence without the need for academic qualifications. To maintain safety standards, EMA requires all applicants to pass an interview and proficiency tests.

Facilitating Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Diversions

Some natural gas users in Singapore purchase LNG to meet their gas demand. These buyers may, at times, have excess LNG quantities. To give LNG buyers greater flexibility in managing their LNG contractual obligations and overall gas supply portfolios, EMA reviewed our requirements and implemented a process that allows them to seek EMA’s approval to sell off their excess LNG quantities to markets outside Singapore. This has benefited LNG buyers as they do not have to bear the cost of excess quantities.

3. Reducing Business Costs

Pro-rated Fees for Initial Electricity and Gas Licences

Previously, new licensees had to pay the same initial licence fee regardless of when their licences were issued. For example, a new licensee issued with a licence at the start of a financial year would pay the same fee as another new licensee issued with a licence just before the end of the same financial year.

In line with EMA's objective to lower compliance costs for its licensees, the initial licence fees for electricity and gas licences are prorated based on the number of days remaining before the start of the next financial year. This initiative took effect from 21 September 2015.

Reduction of Oil Stockpile requirements for Generation Companies

To ensure the security and reliability of our electricity supply, commercial generation companies are required to maintain fuel reserves for generating electricity. This policy is intended to ensure that each generation company can continue to generate electricity if its primary fuel supply is disrupted.

Following a review, EMA revised the fuel reserve policy to require generation companies to maintain fuel reserves to cover at least 60 days of their respective normal operations – a reduction from 90 days previously. This revised fuel reserves policy, which took effect in February 2016, is estimated to result in savings of at least $20 million annually for the generation companies, without compromising the security of electricity supply.

Simplifying monitoring requirements for Interruptible Load facilities

Interruptible Load Service Providers (ILSPs) previously had to install measurement instruments for each of their interruptible equipment and grid connection points. They also had to transmit power consumption data for both grid connection point and individual interruptible equipment (with load of 100kW or more) to EMA at 30-second intervals.

With effect from 17 November 2015, ILSPs only have to transmit data for grid connection points, and only at 1-minute intervals. This helps ILSPs save on compliance costs and enhance market competition. These changes reduce compliance costs, especially for ILSPs with many (smaller than 100kW) pieces of interruptible equipment. They also save on data transmission costs with the reduction in frequency of data transmission from 30-second to 1-minute intervals.

In addition, ILSPs are now allowed to aggregate loads (including those smaller than 100kW). This means they can have more interruptible equipment, thus enhancing competition in the electricity market for the benefit of consumers.

4. Empowering Consumers and Licensees

More businesses to benefit from having a choice of retailers to buy electricity from

Prior to April 2014, only large commercial and industrial (C&I) consumers with an average monthly consumption of at least 10,000 kWh had the option to buy electricity from retailers of their choice, as alternatives to the regulated tariff.

Under EMA's Increased Retail Contestability (IRC) initiative, the eligibility threshold for C&I consumers was lowered in stages:

  • from 10,000 kWh to 8,000 kWh on 1 April 2014.
  • to 4,000 kWh on 1 October 2014.
  • further lowered to 2,000 kWh on 1 July 2015. About 10,000 more C&I consumers (or 13,500 accounts) then were eligible to negotiate for retail packages at competitive prices.

EMA is working with industry stakeholders to fully open the electricity retail market to competition by the second half of 2018. This is the stage where the remaining 1.3 million small consumers, mainly households, have the option to choose whether they want to remain on the regulated tariff or switch to buy electricity from retailers at market prices.

Supporting solar installation deployment

EMA facilitated the deployment of solar systems by simplifying rules and regulations.

This included:

  • Easy access to solar information through a one-stop online portal; and
  • Greater ease for consumers with solar installations to be paid for excess electricity that they generate and export to the power grid.

This has supported the growth of solar deployment in Singapore, which stands at 70MWp in Q1 2016.

Enabling potential applicants to self-assess before applying for an electrician’s licence

Applicants for an electrician's licence are required to take assessment test. A licence will be issued only if the applicant is assessed to have the relevant knowledge and experience to carry out electrical work. To enable potential applicants to make a self-assessment before applying for the licence, EMA has made available on its website a set of typical technical questions that applicants would be tested on. This helps potential applicants to gauge their readiness before applying for an electrician’s licence. This initiative was implemented in April 2016.

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