TEPCO seeks double-digit utility charge hike


TOKYO (majirox news) — Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) has asked the government for permission to raise basic electricity charges by at least 10% in the wake of increased costs caused by the shutdown of nuclear power plants, including the radiation-leaking Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

TEPCO is seeking the first hike in base rates in 31 years, but has apparently said it will be a temporary measure lasting only until the currently halted Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata prefecture resumes normal operations.

Public, business and industry opposition to increase power rates is expected to be significant.

An independent blue-ribbon panel the government appointed to look into TEPCO’s operations is poised to reject the request and instead demand the utility rationalize operations.

TEPCO is seeking to increase base charges because it has been forced to use comparatively costlier geothermal power plants to provide electricity in the wake of the March 11 disasters that triggered the meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi and have since seen nuclear reactors nationwide shut down for inspections.

TEPCO’s request is believed to have been for a price rise of at least 10%, which would mean more than 660 yen a month for the average household.

The price rise mooted by TEPCO would not be based on the increased cost of procuring fuel for power generation, but because it has been deprived of nuclear power generation.

TEPCO may increase prices monthly if they are related to higher fuel procurement costs, but must have government approval to be able to change base rates.

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