StarHub partners Sunseap to compete in Singapore electricity market

Singapore telco StarHub will begin selling electricity services next month when Singapore begins opening up its power market, starting with a soft launch next month in Jurong.

StarHub and Sunseap have inked a partnership agreement to compete in Singapore's electricity market, which begins its liberalisation process next month.

The Singapore telco and energy firm said they would jointly support new customers across several functions including billing and sales as well as customer service. The two companies also would identify opportunities in smart energy and Internet of Things (IoT) offerings for customers.

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With Sunseap in the partnership, households that purchased from StarHub and the sustainable energy company would have the option to tap solar power without having to own or install solar panels, the companies said.

Market regulator Energy Market Authority (EMA) since 2001 had moved to open up the retail electricity market in a bid to drive more competitive pricing and improve service standards.

Enterprise customers, with an average monthly consumption of at least 2,000kWh--or about S$400 a month--currently can choose their electricity provider, buying from a retailer or from the wholesale market. They also can choose to remain on the country's regulated tariff rates.

Starting April 1, 2018, a soft launch of the market liberalisation process would begin in Jurong, where its residents and businesses would be able to purchase their power requirements from a retailer.

According to EMA, the soft launch would open up the market to 108,000 accounts and 9,500 businesses. Following the Jurong, the Singapore electricity market would be fully liberalised by the second half of 2018 and open to the country's remaining 1.3 million accounts, the energy regulator said.

StarHub and Sunseap's joint operations would commence with the soft launch, said the partners, offering two clean energy subscription plans: Green Life and Green Save.

Customers on Green Life would access their power via solar energy and charged based on the usual regulated electricity tariffs. Green Save customers would receive 5 percent clean energy and pay 20 percent lower than the regulated tariffs.

StarHub's chief marketing officer Howie Lau said: "Working together with Sunseap, we are excited to offer households a compelling way to live a lower carbon footprint lifestyle using the Sun's energy. Leveraging each other's expertise, we will bundle essential services from mobile, pay TV, broadband, and electricity in attractive packages for customers, who are becoming more environmentally-aware."

Lau added that StarHub also had launched its Clean Energy Fund, in which the telco would park 5 percent of its profits over the first three years to support environment conservation initiatives, including clean energy and power efficiencies.

Currently Singapore's largest sustainable energy provider, Sunseap said it had deployed its rooftop solar systems across more than 1,000 buildings including public housing estates and commercial buildings.

Its tech clientele includes Microsoft and Apple, where it inked a 20-year agreement with the US software vendor to fully power its data centres with solar energy as well as a "long-term contract" to power the iPhone maker's local operations with renewable energy.

EMA last October said Singapore would set aside S$6.2 million (US$4.57 million) to develop capabilities in predicting solar energy output as well as set up sandboxes to facilitate testing of new products in electricity and gas. The funds would go towards a research grant that had been awarded to a consortium, led by the National University of Singapore, which would tap various techniques in weather prediction, remote sensing, machine learning, and grid modelling, with the aim to improve the accuracy of solar photovoltaic, or solar energy.

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