Sun Cable customer exits as energy price rises take toll


iSwitch Energy, Singapore’s largest independent electricity retailer, has confirmed it will exit the market from next month with a global energy crunch taking a dramatic toll on electricity prices in the city-state which imports nearly 100% of its energy needs.

iSwitch, which had pledged its support as a foundation customer for the proposed $26 billion Australia-ASEAN Power Link (AAPL) being developed by Sun Cable in northern Australia, announced it will cease retail operations on November 11, citing “current electricity market conditions”.

“Over the past six years, iSwitch Energy has had the privilege of serving the Singapore Electricity Market and collectively saving consumers over $150 million on their energy bills against the SP Tariff,” iSwitch said in a letter, addressed to its customers.

“We have also helped maintain focus on sustainability and the green goals that we know are so important to all of you.”

iSwitch’s demise could have ramifications for the proposed AAPL project which is to export solar energy from Australia’s Outback to Singapore via a submarine transmission link.

The independent retailer had in 2019 pledged to support the project as a foundation off-taker for the solar energy produced by the proposed 14 GW solar farm which is to be coupled with an estimated 33 GWh of battery storage.

The project, being developed on a 12,000-hectare site in the Northern Territory’s Barkly Region, is expected to supply power to Darwin and to Singapore via a 4,500-kilometre high-voltage direct-current (HVDC) transmission network, including a 750km overhead transmission line from the solar farm to Darwin and a 3,800km HVDC submarine cable from Darwin to Singapore.

Sun Cable said the AAPL is expected to generate enough renewable electricity to power more than 3 million homes a year and will be capable of supplying up to 20% of Singapore’s total electricity needs, with supply commencing in 2027.

iSwitch made no reference to Sun Cable in its announcement but said customers’ electricity accounts will remain with iSwitch Energy until November 11, when they will be transferred to SP Group, Singapore’s state-owned power provider.

Singapore is the latest victim of surging global gas prices, which rose to record highs in Europe and in Asia this month. The climbing prices have also hit utility providers in the United Kingdom, where a number of energy companies have collapsed, while China and India are dealing with power shortages and blackouts.

Singapore’s Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong earlier this month advised households to conserve electricity with fossil fuel prices continuing to skyrocket.

Gan said fuel prices have more than doubled over the past 18 months with electricity prices climbing 54% in the first half of this year compared to a year ago in major advanced economies.

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