Cantonese restaurant

Faced with soaring electricity bills, some restaurants are shortening their hours or even closing

For many of them, their electricity bills started to rise late last year after their former electricity retailers closed and their accounts moved to SP Group.

Over the past few months, the Singapore electricity market has been rocked by volatility amid a global energy crisis that has led to high natural gas prices.

Unplanned power plant outages around the world as well as production issues at Indonesian gas fields that disrupted natural gas pipeline supplies also fueled a sharp rise in wholesale power prices.

To make matters worse, Singapore officials expect electricity tariffs to rise even further due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

At a cafe in Geylang, owner Johnny Ang, 50, was paying about 15 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) under Senoko Energy.

But when its contract ended last year, the retailer said it would not renew its electricity plan and its account was transferred to SP Group. Under the new retailer, Mr. Ang was charged around 35 cents/kWh last December, but that quickly rose to 50 cents/kWh in February.

“We had to increase the price of our drinks by 10 cents, but I don’t know if that’s enough to cover the cost,” he said in Mandarin.

“If my retailer tells me that electricity will go up even more because of the war in Ukraine, I don’t know how I’m going to run a business like that.”

CHEAPER ELECTRICITY AVAILABILITY

“The increase in electricity prices is not negligible,” said Mr. Kenneth Lee, vice president of Kheng Keow Coffee Merchants Restaurant and Bar-Owners Association.

He said the sharp rise in electricity costs for most cafes is the result of the pullback from their current suppliers. Coffee shops now have to switch to their old electricity supplier, which is more expensive and Mr Lee predicts that operators may have to pass this cost increase on to consumers if the situation does not improve.

The government has recognized the difficulty faced by some companies in obtaining fixed-price electricity contracts.

In a statement on Thursday, March 10, the Energy Market Authority said two electricity retailers, Sembcorp Power and Keppel Electric, will offer consumers lower-cost long-term fixed-price plans with monthly consumption average from 4 MWh to 50 MWh.

The contracts will have terms ranging from six months to three years, with rates for the two- and three-year contracts being 25 cents/kWh.

This is a lower rate than the rate of the temporary electricity contract support program launched in December to help companies with an average monthly consumption of at least 4 MWh to obtain one-month fixed price plans. , which cost 39.9 cents/kWh for March.

GOODBYE 24-HOUR MEALS?

Over the last two years of the pandemic, the food and drink sector has been overwhelmed by a deluge of disruption – such as fewer tourists, a severe labor shortage and repeated regulatory changes. in terms of catering.

Inflation is also a big challenge for restaurant owners, with some saying the price of cooking oil has jumped more than 30% from a year ago.

With electricity prices so high, many restaurants are now debating whether it’s worth staying open or closing early to cut costs.