Power business faces full liberalization

JIJI

The industry ministry is considering fully liberalizing the retail electricity business in 2016 as part of broader reforms designed to fuel competition in the power industry, sources said.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry may also require utilities to spin off their transmission and distribution operations sometime between 2017 and 2019, the sources said Sunday.

The ministry plans to submit a draft of the reform plans to an advisory panel Friday and finalize them by the middle of this month.

The draft outlines plans to set up a new organization in 2015 that would adjust electricity supply and demand across the country in cooperation with transmission and distribution operators, which will be spun off by the utilities.

Under the reform plans, the country will introduce separate licenses for electricity generation, transmission and distribution, and retail sales. A new regulatory body would be set up to oversee them.

Full liberalization of retail electricity operations will abolish the remaining regulations on rates to allow even small-lot users — such as households — to select their own power companies.