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Energy Market Authority finally tackles soaring electricity prices but is it two years too late?

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For some, the two-year delay in implementing stricter regulations has resulted in a loss of confidence in the market's stability and raised doubts about how effective the proposed measures can be.

SINGAPORE: The Energy Market Authority (EMA) has finally taken action to address the staggering surge in power prices, but critics have argued that the move comes two years too late.

The EMA recently announced its decision to cap wholesale power prices starting July 1, utilizing a formula based on natural gas and generation costs, as outlined in a document on its official website. This decision follows a staggering 3,000 per cent price increase this year, despite a significant decline in the cost of liquefied natural gas (LNG), Singapore’s primary fuel source.

The prolonged period of inaction has raised concerns among industry players and consumers alike. Two years ago, the sudden and severe price hikes resulted in the bankruptcy of numerous independent retailers, highlighting the urgent need for regulatory intervention. The prolonged price volatility has also discouraged utilities from investing in additional generation capacity, exacerbating the persistent shortage of power supply, according to the EMA.

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Last month, the market witnessed an unprecedented spike, with prices reaching a whopping $3,594 per megawatt-hour during daily trading. This surge was triggered by the shutdown of a power plant at Jurong Island for a turbine upgrade, coinciding with unusually scorching weather conditions.

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Meanwhile, the cost of LNG has plummeted by a substantial 86 per cent since March 2022, further highlighting the need for swift regulatory action.

Critics argue that the delayed response has severely impacted businesses and households, leaving them vulnerable to skyrocketing electricity bills. Many have struggled to cope with the financial burden caused by exorbitant energy costs, leading to widespread concerns about the stability and affordability of electricity in the city-state.

In an attempt to rectify the situation, the EMA has engaged in consultations with industry stakeholders and utilities to explore effective strategies for mitigating the drastic price fluctuations. Additionally, the authority has expressed its intention to launch a request for project proposals in the latter half of this year and has said it is also open to the possibility of building additional generation capacity under governmental supervision.

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However, while these measures aim to stabilize electricity prices and ensure a reliable power supply, skeptics argue that the action is long overdue. Critics question why the authorities did not take prompt action to prevent the financial distress faced by independent retailers and the detrimental impact on consumers.

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For some, the two-year delay in implementing stricter regulations has resulted in a loss of confidence in the market’s stability and raised doubts about how effective the proposed measures can be.

As Singapore braces itself for the upcoming implementation of the price cap, the focus now lies on the execution of these measures, even as doubts about the effectiveness of this delayed action continue to ripple.

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