26 July 2018
The Ministry of Trade and Industry (“MTI”) and the Energy Market Authority (“EMA”) conducted a public consultation between 22 June 2018 and 16 July 2018 to seek public feedback on proposed amendments to the Gas Act and the Electricity Act. The proposed amendments are intended to enable a more effective regulation of the gas and electricity markets, to enhance the security and reliability of gas and electricity supply, protect critical infrastructure and enhance competitiveness in Singapore’s energy market.
Amendments to the Gas Act
Broadly, the proposed amendments to the Gas Act are intended to safeguard gas supply security and safety, as well as enhance EMA’s regulation-making powers for the conversion of the town gas pipeline network to convey natural gas. Key proposals include:
- Expanding EMA’s powers to deal with emergencies: MTI proposes to allow EMA to issue directions, with the approval of the Minister for Trade and Industry (“Minister”), to licensees and other parties to take measures to safeguard gas supply, in the event of a potential, imminent or actual severe gas shortage that threatens energy security or system stability or that is likely to result in severe loss of electricity supply or industrial output. Affected parties will receive compensation which will be determined by an independent pricing panel.
- Expanding EMA’s functions to deal with dangers to health arising from the import of gas: It is proposed that EMA’s functions be expanded to include protecting the public from dangers to health arising from gas-related activities, including the import of gas.
- Expanding the list of “designated gas licensees”: As liquefied natural gas (“LNG”) supply is critical in ensuring energy security, MTI proposes to add the LNG terminal operator (currently Singapore LNG Corporation Pte Ltd) as a “designated gas licensee” and to enable the Minister to specify other “designated gas licensees” and revise the list of “designated gas licensees” via notification in the Government Gazette. Once designated as such, EMA’s approval is required for changes in ownership and board/chief executive officer appointments of such designated gas licensees.
Amendments to the Electricity Act
The proposed amendments to the Electricity Act are aimed at enhancing security and reliability of electricity supply, and protecting consumers’ interests. Key proposals include:
- Allowing EMA to direct connection of electrical equipment between electricity transmission licensee and electricity licensee: Where EMA considers that a connection is necessary for the expansion of the electricity transmission network, it is proposed that EMA be allowed to direct the electricity transmission licensee and the electricity licensee to effect the connection of electrical equipment, subject to reasonable terms of connections to be agreed. If the two licensees are unable to agree on the terms of connection, it is further proposed that EMA be enabled to direct that the connection be effected on terms that EMA would consider to be reasonable.
- Making the use of unlicensed electrical workers an offence: MTI proposes to make it an offence for firms that provide services involving electrical work to consumers to use unlicensed electrical workers.
- Clarifying status of small contestable consumers: MTI proposes to amend the Electricity Act to clarify, for the avoidance of doubt, that small contestable consumers may apply to cease their status as contestable consumers and purchase electricity at regulated tariffs, subject to certain conditions.
Amendments applicable to both the Gas and Electricity Acts
In addition to the above key proposed amendments, MTI has also proposed changes that apply to both the Gas Act and Electricity Act. These proposed amendments relate to the protection of submarine electricity cables and gas pipelines, enhanced protection of land-based electricity and gas infrastructure, enhanced deterrence in relation to dishonest/fraudulent consumption of gas and meter tampering offences, provision for issuing of guidelines on anti-competitive practices and conduct and clarification of appeals to the Minister in relation to EMA’s regulatory decisions.
Regularising provisions in both the Gas Act and Electricity Act
The proposed amendments also include aligning and updating similar regulatory provisions in the two Acts. For example, MTI has proposed to align the provisions relating to the making of a “Special Administration Order” (“SAO”) in the Gas Act with those of the Electricity Act. To ensure consistency in the ownership, acquisition and divestment controls over gas/electricity licensees in both Acts respectively, provisions in the Electricity Act are proposed to be amended to be in line with those in the Gas Act, as the latter are more detailed and comprehensive.
The following materials are available on the MTI website www.mti.gov.sg:
- Public Consultation on Proposed Amendments to the Gas and Electricity Acts
- Draft Gas (Amendment) Bill
- Draft Electricity (Amendment) Bill