METI to trim requested power rate hikes in Kansai, Kyushu


A panel of experts under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has confirmed its plan to urge Kansai Electric Power Co. and Kyushu Electric Power Co. to make more cuts in their fuel and personnel spending, a move that will likely lead to reductions in the rate hikes they are seeking.

Kepco and Kyushu Electric filed in November for government approval to raise their power rates for households. Kansai Electric wants a 11.88 percent hike while Kyushu Electric is seeking a 8.51 percent increase.

The panel of experts, chaired by Chuo University professor Junji Annen, will present specific criteria for examining the rate requests at its next meeting, which may be held next week.

Panel members said both utilities should take into account expected falls in fuel prices reflecting the shale gas revolution in the United States.

They should lower their liquefied natural gas procurement prices to levels below the nationwide average when they next renew their LNG purchase contracts, some members said.

In a related move, METI chief Toshimitsu Motegi released a statement saying he wants the panel to examine the applications strictly because fuel costs are expected to fall.

Many panel members called for further reductions in personnel costs. They urged the two companies to set executive pay based on salary levels of administrative vice ministers at government agencies.

Tohoku Electric gets LNG


Tohoku Electric Power Co. was to receive Thursday a cargo of liquefied natural gas from Peru at Niigata terminal, according to an official from Nihonkai LNG, owner and operator of the facility.

“The Peru cargo arriving at Niigata is a spot cargo for Tohoku Electric,” said Miyuki Kito, an official in the company’s corporate planning business section.

A Tohoku Electric official didn’t respond to a call to his office number or an email seeking comment.

The STX Frontier, with 153,000 cu. meters of capacity, was scheduled to arrive at the Niigata terminal after sailing from Peru LNG’s terminal at Pampa Melchorita, where it was loaded Jan. 26, according to ship transmissions received by IHS Inc.

Nihonkai LNG, a joint venture between Tohoku Electric, Development Bank of Japan Inc. and Niigata Prefecture, runs the 16.9 million ton-a-year receiving facility, which started up in 1984.