“If my coral dies, you pay”, is a customer’s comment that 51-year-old Razali Bin Mohd recalls in an unforgettable experience during his earlier days as an engineer. His team was carrying out electricity meter replacement works then. In this unique situation, when the customer was informed that the power supply will be temporarily disrupted during the replacement, she requested for a mobile electrical generator to keep her coral tanks maintained at four degrees Celsius during the servicing period. Handling a multitude of customer requests, is part and parcel of stakeholder management in Razali’s job at SP Group (SP).
Over his 25 years with SP, the Vice President of SP Services’ Metering Branch has seen the evolution of analogue electricity meters manually read by meter readers to smart meters that can now be monitored remotely. As of May 2022, Razali and his team have deployed over 650,000 smart electricity meters islandwide. In the next few years, all 1.4 million residential households in Singapore will be equipped with smart meters.
“I cherish this experience the most as we took great lengths to incept this idea and eventually see it come to fruition. As this project had a nation-wide impact, I remembered we went to the Parliament to present our plans to the Mayors, and convinced the relevant agencies to support our deployment plan.”
Razali now has another ambitious task ahead of him. Besides rolling out smart electricity meters nationwide, his team also won the contract for Singapore’s first large-scale smart water meter programme for PUB in Apr 2021. Over the next 15 years, they will be developing the metering system, enhancing the wireless communications network, deploying, operating and maintaining over 300,000 smart water meters.
“We faced intense competition against strong contenders and various challenges during the tender process. Our strong teamwork and expertise in smart electricity meter deployment has enabled us to secure this strategic partnership. The late-night calls with counterparts from different parts of the world were all worth it!”
Interestingly, his career options after graduating as an electrical engineering graduate from Nanyang Technological University were between a cadet pilot at a leading airline and an engineer at SP. He received SP’s letter of offer on the day of his final round of interview for the cadet pilot position.
“I just went with my gut feel and I am convinced now looking back, it was meant to be.” he recalled fondly.
Back in the late 90s, Razali’s key responsibilities included working with contractors to install and maintain meters for residential and commercial customers, procure new meters, handle project tenders and manage customer feedback.
The implementation of smart electricity meters in Singapore has been the highlight of his career.
Before the opening of Singapore’s electricity retail market in 2014, Razali and his team travelled to San Francisco and Melbourne to learn how these cities deployed smart meters successfully. “The study trip shortened our learning curve and prevented potential pitfalls.”
SP is one of the first few utility companies in the world that has separated its communication network card from the meter. In other parts of the world, communication modules are integrated within the meters. Hence, if the communication part fails, the entire meter must be replaced. In Singapore, the decision was to adopt a “modular” structure for parts to be replaced separately if they are faulty. This will not only save cost, but also eliminate supply interruption and reduce inconvenience to the customers.
Razali is thankful for all the growth opportunities at SP and is committed to continue rising to the challenges in the evolving energy industry.
“I wake up every day looking forward to the next challenge at work. I am thankful for the wonderful team support. We are constantly innovating and finding solutions to problems. It gives me a huge sense of job satisfaction!”
In his free time, Razali enjoys travelling for nature walks, trekking, snorkelling, and exploring other types of land and sea activities.
He also finds meaning in organising charity trips to children’s orphanages in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia and has even rallied his colleagues to join him in distributing essential items for these vulnerable communities. With borders reopening, Razali hopes to revive this initiative very soon!