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Tohoku Electric eyes 11% household electricity rate hike

Kyodo

Tohoku Electric Power Co. plans to hike household electricity rates by around 11 percent on average from July, the first increase in 33 years, as its financial position has worsened amid ballooning fuel costs from thermal power generation, sources said.

The utility may possibly apply for government approval this week to implement the rate increase, even though the move could adversely affect reconstruction efforts in Tohoku and hamper its recovery from the shattering 2011 quake-tsunami disasters.

Sendai-based Tohoku Electric also plans to raise electricity bills for corporate users, a step that does not require government approval.

The increase in these rates is expected to surpass the 11 percent planned for households, the sources said.

Meanwhile, the utility will further streamline its business by implementing measures including a 20 percent pay cut for its employees, in a bid to gain customers’ approval for the electricity rate hike, according to the sources.

All but two of the nation’s nuclear reactors remain idled amid safety concerns following the three core meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 plant in March 2011 triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.