Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s intention to raise household rates in July met with stiff opposition from representatives of consumers and small companies at a meeting of the government’s panel tasked with examining the appropriateness of the proposed hike.
Tepco President Toshio Nishizawa told the meeting Tuesday that raising electricity rates by an average of 10.28 percent is necessary to enable the utility to stay afloat amid rising fuel costs for thermal power generation to make up for the halt in nuclear power generation due to the Fukushima crisis.
His explanation fell far short of winning consent from the attendees representing electricity users.
Etsuo Mizoguchi, chairman of the Tokyo Cleaning Association, said most laundry service operators are small enterprises operating with a few employees and are already facing harsh competition amid the prolonged economic stagnation.
“There is fear that the number of enterprises that will go out of business will increase” as a result of the price hike, he said, noting it would be difficult for most laundry and other small businesses to pass the rise in electricity rates on to consumers.
Saitama Gov. Kiyoshi Ueda said Tepco should implement a “more drastic cut” in its personnel costs, showing dissatisfaction with the current cost-cutting plan. Saitama is one of the prefectures in Tepco’s service area.