Major utilities announce rate hikes for August

JIJI

The nation’s 10 major electricity companies and four major gas suppliers will make hefty price hikes in August to reflect the rising cost of liquefied natural gas caused by the yen’s decline under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s “Abenomics” economics policy.

The fifth consecutive month of rate hikes by the 14 companies, announced Thursday, will be the largest in size under the current pricing system, which began in May 2009.

The rate hikes by the power utilities have been especially noticeable because of their heavy reliance on LNG since they were forced to idle their nuclear plants in light of the Fukushima disaster.

The average household served by Tokyo Electric Power Co. will see its monthly bill rise by ¥58 to ¥7,978, while customers of Chubu Electric Power Co. will see their bills rise by ¥45 to ¥7,553.

But Tohoku Electric Power Co. and Shikoku Electric Power Co. will raise their rates by ¥25 and ¥12, respectively, while they await government authorization for “full-fledged” hikes that threaten to jolt utility bills.

Under that scenario, Tohoku Electric’s customers would see their bills rise by ¥670 to ¥7,675 a month, while Shikoku Electric’s customers would see bills rise by ¥689 to ¥7,711.

The hike in monthly gas rates, however, will be lower, climbing by ¥44 to ¥5,846 at Tokyo Gas Co. and by ¥47 to ¥6,475 at Osaka Gas Co. .

Electricity and gas rates are reviewed every month to reflect changes in fuel and materials costs.

From March to May — the base period for setting August rates — the price of LNG had climbed 2.1 percent from the February-April period.