Issue 2 | APRIL 2012
Interviews SP Group CEO

On Cue

EMA Interview with SP GCEO

Profile of
Mr Wong Kim Yin

Mr Wong Kim Yin is the Group Chief Executive Officer of Singapore Power Ltd, since January 2012.

Prior to this, he was the Senior Managing Director of Investment at Temasek Holdings (Pte) Ltd and was responsible for investments in the energy, transportation and industrial sectors. Mr. Wong has over 10 years’ experience in investment management.

Prior to joining Temasek in 2004, he worked for The AES Corporation, a power company listed on the New York Stock Exchange, and was responsible for merger and acquisition and project development across Asia Pacific.

He is currently the Chairman of SP PowerGrid Ltd and a Director of SP PowerAssets Ltd. He has been a Non Executive Director of CITIC Resources Holdings Ltd since April 1, 2008.

Mr. Wong holds an Executive Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business.
1. What is your impression of the energy industry since becoming Group CEO of SP on 1 January 2012?

Since its deregulation in 2001, the electricity market has undergone unprecedented changes in the past decade. Today, we have a competitive power generation sector and retail contestability for 70% of the market. With the upcoming LNG terminal, the gas market will also see diversified sources of fuel available to Singapore allowing for greater competitiveness and energy security. SP, in its role as Singapore’s grid operator, has supported the policy directions to facilitate industry restructuring,
as well as contributed to the reliable and cost efficient delivery of power and gas to consumers.

Moving forward, in the nearer term, the industry will be challenged by issues such as rising costs, ageing infrastructure, and maintaining high quality workforce. Over the longer horizon, the introduction of new sources of supply and new technology will present both opportunities as well as challenges.

2. What are some of your priorities for SP over the next decade?

In addition to our mission of delivering reliable and cost-efficient supply, I consider my mandate to position SP for the future. That must include enhancing institutional capabilities and bench strength, as well as ensuring that our infrastructure is ready for the future.

On the infrastructure front, an immediate challenge is the ageing of our grid assets. Further, as Singapore introduces LNG, we must ensure that the gas transmission system is able to be connected safely to the receiving terminal, and increases its delivery capacity correspondingly.

To address the above, we must invest heavily over the next 5 years. A key project would be the construction of a 35 km underground tunnel to house transmission cables. This tunnel will form the backbone for Singapore’s power transmission over the coming decades. SP will also continue to upgrade the existing network. These efforts are crucial to the long term reliability and cost efficiency of our power supply.

Corresponding to these investments, SP will need competent and committed people. So another focus area for SP will be to attract and nurture talent, particularly engineering talent to strengthen our core capabilities.

3. How will SP ensure that its manpower needs are met to keep up with the industry demands?

The power and gas industry is facing the twin challenge of the attraction of new entrants, and a rapidly ageing workforce.

Currently, about 40% of the technical workforce will reach retirement age in the next 10 years. Based on current trends, the pace of recruitment will not be able to replace these retiring workers.

To address this challenge, SP will adopt an all-rounded approach, covering the attraction, recruitment, development, and retention of talent.

For instance, SP will work closely with the newly formed PSMT to enhance the image of the industry and make it an attractive career option. We will work with education institutions to engage students, and also offer internships and scholarships. That will enable a better understanding of the industry, and present career opportunities in the industry as an exciting and challenging career option.

Knowledge retention is another crucial area. We must try to institutionalise the knowledge and experience of veterans through initiatives such as training and mentoring schemes, even as we extend the retirement age of senior colleagues.

We are fortunate to have the strong support of UPAGE all these years. We will continue to work closely with UPAGE as we tackle the challenges ahead, for instance to help new employees integrate into the company and industry.

4. Could you share with us your views on the future of Singapore’s power grid?

Network and supply reliability will always be our priority.

We can expect grid operations to be challenged not just by demand growth and ageing infrastructure, as we are experiencing now, but also by changes brought about by emerging trends and technologies such as distributed generation, advanced meters, and electric vehicles (EV).

SP must keep pace with these developments, to ensure that we can continue to deliver energy reliably and efficiently.

Among the initiatives is our partnership with EMA on the IES Pilot.Through this Pilot which involves advanced metering technology, we seek to bring the capabilities of our power grid to the next level.

It is with the same motivation that we are studying the potential impact of EVs on the grid, which could be significant. To put things into perspective, if 4% of Singapore’s car population convert to EV, the power required to charge them would be the same as the capacity to power Ang Mo Kio. And these vehicles could be charging from anywhere. The dynamic energy flows must be understood and taken into consideration as we plan for future investments. Next Article →