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

These are some of the pro-enterprise initiatives that we have implemented in recent years.

1. Supporting New Business Ideas

Empowering Consumers to Optimise their Energy Consumption through Demand Side Management

With technological advancements and smarter energy systems, there is enormous potential for consumers to play a more active role in optimising their energy consumption. Known as Demand Side Management (DSM), DSM involves consumers managing their energy demand through incentives or behavioral changes in their consumption pattern.
The benefits of DSM are potentially two-fold at the individual and system level. First, consumers can reduce their electricity bills by adjusting the timing and amount of electricity use. Second, the energy system can benefit from the shifting of energy consumption from peak to non-peak hours. To demonstrate the viability of DSM initiatives for consumers, EMA launched Project OptiWatt. Two solutions were implemented under Project Optiwatt.

Demand Response (DR): Reducing barriers to entry through streamlined IT requirements

In response to industry feedback that participation in DSM involved a complex registration process and challenging operational requirements, EMA made changes to encourage take-up in the programme. For example, consumers are now allowed to appoint a third party agent to participate in the DR programme on their behalf. The third party agent can use its existing IT infrastructure to participate in the programme instead of the consumer having to implement a new IT system. This has resulted in the first DR application in August 2017 for a sizeable industrial load of about 1% of Singapore’s peak demand.

eResponse Incentive Pilot: Facilitating new business models and encouraging experimentation

To encourage innovation, EMA collaborated with Red Dot Power (RDP), an independent electricity retailer, to pilot a new business model, known as the eResponse incentive pilot scheme. This scheme would give customers incentives when they reduced or shifted their energy consumption during times of high electricity prices.  This would result in a “triple-win” outcome for RDP (reduced exposure to high market prices), consumers (lower energy costs or incentives for change in consumption pattern) and the power system (reduced need to build more capacity to meet peak demand).

The eResponse scheme was implemented from April to August 2017 with the following Project OptiWatt partners - Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Temasek Polytechnic and Institute of Technical Education (Central and West). This saw the reduction of energy consumption (e.g. use of air-conditioners) for these four Institutions without compromising on comfort for those on the campuses. There are plans to progressively introduce it to other consumers.

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.

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.

2. Simplifying Rules & Regulations

Alternate Pathways for Applicants To Be Licensed Electrical Workers

Starting from 26 Dec 2018, applicants without the requisite academic qualifications may apply for the electrical or cable detection worker licences. EMA created alternate pathways to help individuals without formal academic qualifications to be recognised for their relevant work experience in securing a worker’s licence. This was made possible by amending the regulations for the licensing of workers.

Previously, businesses may have been deterred from investing capital and time for their workers to pursue formal academic qualifications in order to qualify for the worker licences. With this change, workers will now only need the relevant work experience and skillsets to apply for these licences. For example, applicants with the relevant work experience of at least 5 years (down from the previous requirement of 10 years) and skillsets can now apply for a worker’s licence.

As part of this initiative, EMA also worked with the Singapore Institute of Power and Gas, Singapore Polytechnic and Ngee Ann Polytechnic to develop bridging courses. These courses help to equip potential applicants with the knowledge and skillsets required to ensure consumer safety.

These initiatives help to build up Singapore’s pool of skilled electrical and cable detection workers. Additionally, this supports the Government’s objective to provide avenues for career progression beyond formal academic qualifications.

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 was implemented since October 2017 and has benefited LNG buyers as they do not have to bear the cost of excess quantities.

Cutting Red Tape in Safety Compliance for Gas Licensees

EMA implemented the Gas Safety Regulatory Framework on 1 September 2010 to address safety risks arising from the activities of gas licensees. Such activities include the safe operation of gas plants and supply of gas in Singapore, which may pose safety risks to gas service workers and consumers. In reviewing this framework for improvements, EMA noted that the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) also had a Safety Case Regime for all Major Hazard Installations in Singapore. This regime was found to cover EMA’s gas licensees as well. EMA’s review showed that these gas licensees would need to submit two separate sets of documents under both EMA and MOM’s safety frameworks.

To reduce the regulatory burden on gas licensees, EMA took pro-active steps to analyse both frameworks and introduced enhancements to reduce the duplication of regulatory submissions. The enhancements were implemented from September 2017. This has benefited gas licensees in the reduction of cost, time and effort needed to submit documentation to comply with the safety requirements.

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.
3. Reducing Regulatory Costs for Businesses

Reducing Compliance Costs to Support Solar Deployment

EMA partnered SP Group to reduce compliance costs for businesses with solar installations. Previously, businesses that require electricity supply at extra-high tension voltage level had to submit a report to EMA and SP Group when a Solar Photovoltaic (PV) system is added to their existing electrical installation. This report known as the Fault Current Contribution report, has to be prepared and certified by a Licensed Electrical Worker (LEW). This meant that businesses had to bear the additional cost of engaging a LEW to prepare and certify this report.

The EMA-SP Group team developed a methodology that provides an estimate of the fault current contribution from solar PV installations on the power grid. This removed the need for businesses to engage a LEW to prepare and certify the Fault Current Contribution report for submission to EMA and SP Group, resulting in a reduction in compliance costs. This would also facilitate the deployment of Solar PV systems by businesses.

After this pro-enterprise initiative was implemented in July 2018, this has helped to reduce compliance costs ranging from $3,000 to $15,000 per solar installation for businesses.

Facilitating Solar Deployment for Businesses

Businesses with large solar installations are required to register with the energy market operator to be a Market Participant (MP). This ensures that their solar installations do not affect the power grid’s reliability and stability, while maintaining fair competition in the electricity market. However, these same requirements even applied when such businesses produce energy for their own consumption. Following industry feedback that such requirements could discourage solar adoption, EMA reviewed the situation and came up with a pro-business initiative by creating a new class of MP. This encompassed consumers and businesses with large solar installations (below 10 MW) for the purpose of self-consumption.

Since July 2017, EMA streamlined the registration process for this new class of MP by simplifying requirements and forms for them. A new methodology was also developed to simplify the calculation and payment of market charges that apply to this class of MP. Instead of a daily payment arrangement, this class of MP are now only required to perform the payment twice a year. These improvements reduced the MP’s regulatory burden and resulted in cost savings for them – estimated at 4-5% of the cost of a typical solar installation.

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.

Since 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.

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.

4. Empowering Consumers and Licensees

All Consumers 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.

On 1 April 2018, EMA commenced the soft launch of the Open Electricity Market, where households and businesses in Jurong (postal codes starting with 60 to 64) can choose to buy electricity from a retailer with a price plan that best meets their needs. This involved a total of 108,000 households and 9,500 small businesses.

Since 1 November 2018, the Open Electricity Market was extended to all consumers across Singapore by zones. Over 1.4 million households and business accounts now have the option to choose who they wish to buy electricity from.

The Open Electricity Market gives consumers more choice and flexibility, while enjoying the same supply through the national power grid.

Improved Testing Process for Electrician and Electrical Technician Licence Applicants

EMA conducts a written test for those applying for their Electrician and Electrical Technician licences. This test aims to assess their technical competency before they can proceed to the second stage of assessment.

Previously, this test was arranged for small groups of applicants. The test dates were also scheduled within a short time. This meant applicants might not have sufficient time to prepare for the test. To improve the process for applicants, EMA implemented a batch assessment approach for electrician and electrical technician licences. Since from January 2018, written tests are now conducted in batches of 50 applicants once every four months. In addition, test dates are also made known to applicants six months in advance. With this arrangement, applicants are able to prepare themselves ahead of time for the test.

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.

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 149.1 MWp in Q1 2018.

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