Sustainability is not a corporate buzzword to be affixed to an organisation’s CSR manual, but a very real game-changer today. As climate change, the pandemic and other environmental factors continue to alter our world, it is imperative that we adopt sustainable practices from the ground up.
For Ellen Teo, CEO of Union Power, this means providing a platform for businesses to switch to sustainable energy such as solar energy, and encouraging them to do so. She envisions a “Sustainable Singapore” where we no longer have to worry about how effects of global warming affect our future generations.
We were honoured to have a chance to chat with her about exactly what Union Power is doing to affect such changes, and her take on our sustainability future.
To begin with, tell us in your words what is Union Power.
Union Power is an Electricity Retailer licensed by Energy Market Authority (EMA) and a member of Union Energy Group (UEG).
How does Union Power contribute to sustainability in Singapore?
Last year, we witnessed the effects of climate change as the world took a breather during pandemic. So, we took the opportunity to look into clean energy and accelerated plans for developing solar energy through our solar arm, Union Solar.
Through Union Solar, we manage a network of solar photovoltaic (PV) installations that power homes and businesses. We finance and install solar PV systems on building rooftops, converting unused space into clean energy generation that produces sustainable, renewable energy.
Why solar energy?
Solar energy in Singapore is one of the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly energy sources available to a developed country. Solar panels in Singapore can save up to 40% on energy costs when compared to brown energy.
Deployment of solar energy in Singapore can be a challenge, however I believe that every obstacle is an opportunity to progress, and Union Energy Group seeks to become one of the primary drivers of solar energy adoption through Union Solar.
We see ourselves as an agent of change to move towards a carbon-neutral society.
What are some challenges you faced, convincing businesses and homeowners to switch to Union Power? And how did you overcome them?
We found that when organisations rejected our proposals, it was mostly because they were deterred by the high investment upfront in order to reap savings in the long run.
Even though Union Power is a relatively new subsidiary of Union Energy Group, we were able to leverage on our long-time relationships with LPG consumers to offer the most competitive tariff rates, attractive bill rebates and promotions. We also placed a premium on providing a pleasant consumer experience. As we made the switching process easy, more consumers decided to make Union Power their energy provider.
Our efforts have paid off, and we consistently clinched a 4-star rating on EMA’s Consumer Satisfaction Survey (CSS), with a 93.5% customer retention rate.
So, does using Union Power mean that I’m making a more environmentally conscious choice?
In my opinion, just using Union Power does not mean you are being more environmentally conscious. There are many ways one can change consumption habits to be environmentally responsible.
However, you can be sure that Union Power’s beliefs and the way we conduct business is in line with Singapore Green Plan 2030. We constantly advocate that businesses and consumers alike adopt solar energy as a viable alternative to fossil fuels. Our Solar PV system installations not only provide households and businesses with cleaner energy, but yield immediate cost savings in the energy bill!
In that case, what would you say to convince someone that they should adopt a more sustainable lifestyle?
Temperatures in Singapore will only rise – we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030 – and to net zero emissions by 2050 in order to have a fighting chance of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.
To limit the rate of global warming, we need to ramp up our efforts in sustainable living and to progress with changes to our individual lifestyles. Everyone has a part to play.
As Robert Swan said, “The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.” We should all play our part: I advocate an “attitude reset” wherein we ask ourselves how we can all contribute in our own ways to drive sustainable living.
Lastly, give us a tip on how to live more sustainably!
Every journey begins with a single step, start by making small changes to your lifestyle. Switch off the lights and resources once you leave the room, use environmentally friendly materials wherever possible, make lifestyle changes in the way we commute, and adopt the use of renewable energy.
There are so many aspects of our lives that we can change in order to help save the planet, all it takes to get started is a little initiative.
A version of this story first appeared in the September 2021 at CareerBuilder.