Renewal Energy The Way to Secure Future

Dear Editor

The Straits Times

Grateful if you can publish this letter. Thank you.

Forum Letter - 1 July 2009

Renewal Energy The Way to Secure Future

Singapore desires to be a sustainable city and has become a model for achieving a number of feats in conservation and optimization of resources, especially water. Our goal in paving a secure future with pure drinking water that is drained from our own sewers, land and rivers, treated with modern membrane technology, is laudable.

To be a truly sustainable and secure city, however, we also need to be self-sufficient in energy. Our reliance on foreign fuels is not sustainable as crude oil and compressed natural gas (CNG) are finite resources with fluctuating prices dependent on market and geopolitical conditions.

Singapore’s energy tariff, though improved, is still pegged to rising and falling oil prices. Which means that consumers will still be penalized with higher utility bills despite individual conservation efforts. Which puts the government’s pricing strategy out of whack with motivating conservation.

In a 2008 forum (Source: Business Times 17 July 2008 by Jamie Lee), David Tan, deputy chief executive of the Energy Market Authority had said: “We do not subsidise energy. We believe in the right pricing of energy because by pricing energy correctly, that would drive certain behaviour in consumers,” he said. “As a result of that behaviour, we believe consumers will learn to conserve energy.”

Conservation mindset, in my opinion, will be better shaped through incentives given on reduced energy bills by way of clean energy adoption. Singapore, an island, enjoys full sunshine year round, consistent wind at coastal and hilly areas, and constant ebb and flow of tides. All these can be tapped for our secure energy needs, at district and precinct levels, for both present and future needs.

CNG, that forms 80% of our energy source, is cleaner compared to coal-fired sources; however they are not much cleaner than renewable sources like solar, wind, tidal, and geothermal energy. As a consumer, I demand to be given choices in engaging green energy suppliers. My motivation – I wish to lead a zero-energy lifestyle, beyond conservation of polluting energy. I also wish for my children and future generations to enjoy clean and uninterrupted energy sources for a secure home in Singapore.

The cost of using renewal energy sources will not be an issue if pricing and subsidies in using solar or wind energy sources can be dealt with by feed in tariffs or power purchase agreements; a public consultation on this issue should be forthcoming – involving industry and consumers. Residents of private and public housing have the right to be aware of the various cost opportunities and long-term benefits for them, to make informed decisions on pricing policies and the freedom to engage the energy supplier of choice.

As an HDB flat owner and occupant, I long for flexibility in the way we use the power coming from the grid, and be given the opportunity to feed unutilized power back to the grid. By earning money beyond saving on diminishing utility bills, Singaporeans will be driven to conserve energy.

We need to make a stand as a nation for the preservation of Gaia – our mother Earth - and the security of our energy dependency. The government will do well to listen to the changing demands of its constituents and empower its people with greater choices in a liberalized energy sector. For a secure future, that is.

By Ms Mallika Naguran
Managing Editor, Gaia Discovery
Mobile: +65 9663 7289
15 Upper Boon Keng Road #15-1067 Singapore 380015

(Mallika Naguran notes: This letter was not published. It has been rejected following the likes of numerous letters sent to Singapore's official English language newspaper The Straits Times on topics such as pollution, road congestion and energy waste.  Unfortunately, many of these letters have been lost, and I am unable to reproduce all of them here. I've decided for now to post on Gaia Discovery all letters sent out to organisations to allow for readers to read and judge for themselves the issues involved and responses from the various organisations.)