Managing Director of BillionGroup Technologies Ltd. - Ir. Steve Wong has been invited by South China Morning Post to share his opinion on the article - "Balance of Power"
Balance of power - ELECTRICITY PRICES
Hongkongers complain about electricity prices, but we get a reliable supply and rebates. And if we're serious about living in a green city, it's going to cost more
On Hong Kong and Lamma Island, with the new tariff increases at 6.3 per cent for this year, consumers pay Hong Kong Electric (SEHK: 0006) about HK$1.31 per kWh of electricity. In Kowloon and the New Territories, with CLP's tariff increase of 4.9 per cent, it's 98.7 cents per kWh, so just under a dollar can buy you an hour of warmth from a 1,000-watt heater.
Steve Wong, manager and founder of Billiongroup Technologies, an energy consulting firm, says that due to the profit clauses in the schemes of control, power companies in Hong Kong actually fare better than most in trying to find more expensive but environmentally friendly energy, and in developing energy-saving technologies. They know they'll get their investments back anyway.
"If there was no such agreed profit-protection clause, there would be no incentive to invest in renewable or other less-polluting energies," he said.
Wong is also president of a non-profit organisation made up entirely of volunteers called the Hong Kong Energy Conservation Association, which goes into public places like schools for free energy-saving consultations.
According to Wong, Hong Kong's potential for developing renewable energy supplies is pretty modest, based on its geography and the fact that it is so densely populated.
"It's saving energy that really matters," Wong said.
Wong considers himself an environmentalist first and a businessman second.
"The environment is such a big topic. You can't be a Superman," he says. So he chooses to keep his focus narrow, on energy conservation.
And although his was the first energy consultancy in Hong Kong, starting up in 1991, his consultancy fees have lately run into eight figures. He is clearly not just a do-gooder.
The thing about the schemes of control, Wong says, is that they need to strike a balance between allowing Hong Kong to be a green city by using more green power - which means increasing tariffs - while also allowing the city to be competitive in business, which means keeping tariffs low enough that commercialenterprises will stay.
"If we had the lowest tariffs in the world, but disregarded being a green city, we'd be competitive, but our reputation would pay the price."