Kansai, Kyushu utilities to apply for rate hikes

JIJI

Kansai Electric Power Co. plans to apply for government approval as early as Monday to hike its household electricity rates by more than 10 percent next spring, sources said.

Kyushu Electric Power Co. plans to apply for a similar rate hike Nov. 27 and is considering a household rate increase of around 10 percent, the sources said Tuesday.

The utilities hope to implement their rate increases in April, and are also considering rate hikes for corporate customers, according to the sources. The two companies will hold board meetings Monday and Nov. 27 to make a decision on the increases.

The hikes are intended to deal with soaring fuel costs for thermal power generation while the two power companies’ nuclear reactors remain suspected in light of the triple meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. Only two reactors, at Kepco’s Oi complex in Fukui Prefecture, have been restarted since the March 2011 nuclear catastrophe started.

The government will decide whether to approve their requests after assessing fuel, labor and other costs that form the basis for calculating electricity rates.

Kepco and Kyushu Electric were both highly dependent on atomic energy to meet demand in their service areas. In the April-September first half of fiscal 2012, Kepco logged a record net loss of ¥116.7 billion and Kyushu Electric posted a record net loss of ¥149.5 billion.

The presidents of the two utilities said in late October that rate increases were being studied. Among other power utilities, Tepco increased its rate for corporate users by 14.9 percent on average in April and its household rate by 8.46 percent in September.

Hokkaido Electric Power Co., Tohoku Electric Power Co. and Shikoku Electric Power Co. may also consider increasing rates if their reactors remain offline for a long time.