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Hokkaido Electric seeks OK for rate hike

Kyodo

Hokkaido Electric Power Co. asked the government Wednesday to approve rate hikes for households as fuel costs for thermal power generation surge to offset the suspension of its Tomari nuclear plant.

Hokkaido Electric is the sixth utility to apply for rate hikes since the Fukushima disaster. The other five are Tokyo Electric, Kansai Electric, Kyushu Electric, Tohoku Electric and Shikoku Electric.

Hokkaido Electric hopes to raise prices for households by an average of 10.20 percent from September. It also wants to raise corporate rates, which can be done without state approval, by an average of 13.46 percent the same month.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which will examine the application, is likely to instruct the utility to curtail the size of the price hike by trimming personnel and fuel expenses.

Later Wednesday in Sapporo, Hokkaido Electric President Osamu Sakai said the utility may need to raise rates further in the future.

“If the nuclear power plants won’t be able to resume operation as expected, we need to revise electricity rates,” he said.

The nation’s four other utilities — the Chubu, Hokuriku, Chugoku and Okinawa electric power companies — will not move to raise prices for the time being because they depend less on atomic power.

All of the nation’s nuclear reactors except reactors 3 and 4 at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Oi plant in Fukui Prefecture have been taken offline since the Fukushima crisis.

Separately, Hokkaido Electric said it posted a record net loss of ¥132.8 billion in the business year to March.