Utilities paid local governments ¥73 billion in dividends: sources

Kyodo

Power companies paid out about ¥72.7 billion in dividends to municipalities nationwide in the last five years, sources said Saturday.

Local governments that received the funds, especially those that are leading shareholders in their regional utilities, will likely come under pressure to more actively convey residents’ views on key issues, including nuclear safety and electricity charges, according to experts.

The city of Osaka, which is the top shareholder in Kansai Electric Power Co. with a stake of around 8.9 percent, received more than ¥5 billion in annual dividends since fiscal 2007, while Yamaguchi Prefecture, whose 13.3 percent stake in Chugoku Electric Power Co. makes it the utility’s largest shareholder, netted about ¥2.4 billion in dividends each year.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the leading shareholder in Tokyo Electric Power Co. with a roughly 2.6 percent stake, was paid around ¥10.8 billion in dividends annually.

The metropolitan government was using the funds to cover the cost of running the capital’s public bus service, but that source of income has dried up since the nuclear crisis at Tepco’s Fukushima No. 1 power plant started in March 2011.

Meanwhile, both Miyagi and Aomori prefectures own shares in Tohoku Electric Power Co.

Many local governments operated their own power generation facilities before the war but in 1941 were ordered by the government to hand them over to regional power companies. In exchange, they received shares in the utilities.