The local electricity market is so important to Hong Kong residents because its affordability directly affects their costs, as well as the environment.
Some people might want electricity to be cheaper in the future to make sure that even the poorest people in society aren’t suffering from a lack of electricity.
As I stated in my OpEd column on June 12, the government has said that we are not using the cheapest electricity in the world, and the future electricity market shall optimise the performances in safety, reliability, affordability and environmental protection.
Although there are low-income individuals who may find it hard to afford the electricity bill, I think that given the astronomical cost of rent and other living costs, they probably find it hard to afford everything. Their consumption of electricity is presumably nominal and an even lower tariff would only ease their financial burden a little bit. To help the most needed in our society, cheaper electricity is insignificant in comparison to the offer of more affordable accommodation and transport. Pointing the finger towards electricity bill does not appear right to me.
The government’s plans to reduce energy consumption have found that air conditioning takes up the largest portion of end-use electricity, at 30 per cent. In other words, the best way to cut power consumption is to improve the efficiency of air conditioners in commercial buildings. This move is not necessarily easy because it means that building owners would have to invest into the replacement systems and, if this is expensive, owners might not have much incentive to do this, even if the long-term costs are cheaper.
The question is, how do we want the electricity market to change in the future? Competition does not always lead to a better service or higher satisfaction. Going green always comes with a more expensive price tag. No approach is perfect and fault free and change may not necessarily be the best option. OpEd readers should think carefully about this subject because it will impact the city’s future.