Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Cool weather, competition lower electricity prices

Opening of new plants drove wholesale power prices down in Dec


A COMBINATION of cool weather and stiffening market competition, due to the start-up of new generating plants, has driven electricity prices here lower.


Energy Market Company CEO Dave Carlson said in its just-released bulletin that "towards the end of the year, Singapore typically sees cooler weather brought about by the north-east monsoon. In line with this, forecast demand dropped and the Uniform Singapore Energy Price in the wholesale electricity market reached a new monthly low for the year of $147 per megawatt/hour in December."


This follows the lower monthly wholesale electricity prices - of below $160/MWh - recorded by the wholesale market operator in October and November.


The year-end "cooling-off" was a marked contrast to the mid-year wholesale electricity price highs of around $200/MWh in June and August, when electricity demand soared as a result of the haze (in June) and scorching weather.


New genco PacificLight Power CEO Yu Tat Ming told The Business Times that based on the genco's own estimates, electricity demand grew about 3.3 per cent year-on-year last month.


"While the weather played a part in helping to cool electricity demand in December, it was competition from new plants that in fact drove wholesale electricity prices down," he said.


This downtrend looks set to continue, given this month's persistent "springy" temperatures here, with lows of 23/24 degrees celcius.


While electricity demand continues to grow this month - by about 2.3 per cent year-on-year in the first 21 days, estimates PacificLight - this will likely be affected "as the coming Chinese New Year will typically see most firms scaling back a week or so before the festivities, especially when their Malaysian workers head home," noted Mr Yu.


EMC recently indicated that the addition of more gas-fired generating units - including PacificLight's new 800MW station and those of Tuas Power and Keppel Merlimau Cogen - has raised Singapore's total gas-fired capacity to more than 9,000MW, or way above peak electricity demand here of around 6,600MW.


This follows the lower monthly wholesale electricity prices - of below $160/MWh - recorded by the wholesale market operator in October and November  

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