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Major power companies losing big clients to upstarts

JIJI

An increasing number of companies are abandoning major utilities to buy electricity from upstarts offering cheaper rates.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. saw major clients drop by some 7,000 in fiscal 2012 ended in March, up tenfold from fiscal 2011, after it hiked prices for corporate users by an average of 14.9 percent that April.

Liberalization of the electricity market has been under way since March 2000, allowing new utilities to undercut regional monopolies by buying excess power from manufacturers that run their own power plants.

In all, Tepco has seen some 22,400 clients move to new suppliers since liberalization began.