StarHub enters Singapore’s freshly liberalized energy sector with Sunseap

sunseap starhub
From left: Karie Kow, VP of corporate finance, StarHub; Howie Lau, chief marketing officer, StarHub; Frank Phuan, co-founder and CEO, Sunseap Group; Laurence Kwan, VP of energy, Sunseap Group Image credit: StarHub

ITEM: Earlier this month, Morgan Stanley issued a research note suggesting that telcos should be looking at the energy sector as a new opportunity by bundling electricity services. On Monday, Singaporean telco StarHub did just that by partnering with local sustainable energy firm Sunseap.

StarHub and Sunseap have formed a joint operation to enter Singapore’s Open Electricity Market scheme, under which the Energy Market Authority intends to fully liberalize the retail electricity market in the second half of this year, starting with a soft launch in Jurong. Under the scheme, consumers can buy electricity services from any electricity retailers according to their usage patterns and prices offered, and can switch at any time with no interruption in service.

StarHub and Sunseap plan to offer a solar-powered “clean energy” service to residents in Jurong starting in April as part of StarHub’s service bundle, said StarHub’s chief marketing officer Howie Lau.

“We will bundle essential services from mobile, pay TV, broadband and electricity in attractive packages for customers, who are becoming more environmentally-aware,” Lau said.

StarHub and Sunseap are collaborating on customer service, billing and sales. Both companies said they are also exploring opportunities in smart energy and IoT solutions.

StarHub and Sunseap will offer two clean energy subscription plans (from the press release):

The first plan named Green Life is a 100% clean energy plan tailored to meet the needs of environmentally conscious customers. Customers on the Green Life plan will receive electricity fully produced by Sunseap’s solar systems at no additional cost. Electricity will be charged at the usual regulated electricity tariff.

The second plan, Green Save, allows customers to take a step towards becoming more environment-friendly while enjoying some savings. With this plan, customers will receive 5% clean energy and enjoy 20% discount off the regulated tariff.

That essentially means going full-solar is the more expensive option. There’s a reason for that, observes TechGoondu:

The higher price for the green option reflects the higher costs of generating, storing and delivering the electricity using sustainable methods in Singapore. This is unlike other markets where green energy has become more efficient and cheaper.

Sunseap – which has been operating in Singapore for over 30 years – harvests its solar energy via its rooftop solar systems across more than 1,000 buildings in Singapore, including public housing estates as well as commercial and industrial buildings.

The option of a cheaper plan may also be a reflection of the fact that the Open Electricity Market is expected to be a highly competitive one – Sunseap is one of 14 approved electricity retailers for the scheme, all of which began their marketing campaigns on Monday, reports the Business Times.

StarHub didn’t give any details on the telecoms side of the bundle, but Lau did say that 5% of its profits from the venture in the first three years will be channelled into its StarHub Clean Energy Fund, which “will be used to drive environmental conservation initiatives including clean energy and efficiencies.”

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