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Tepco to hasten smart meter debut

Kyodo

Tokyo Electric Power Co. plans to introduce next-generation smart meters that can transmit electricity consumption data for all households in its service area by the end of March 2021, three years ahead of schedule, Tepco officials said Monday.

Smart meters record data on power usage and send it to utilities for monitoring and billing purposes. A Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry panel had urged Tepco to push up the debut of the device to help curb waste by helping homeowners use energy more efficiently.

Tepco, which is on the verge of bankruptcy because of the nuclear disaster that began in March 2011 at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, will start installing smart meters in fiscal 2014.

By completing the installations ahead of time, Tepco can save personnel costs spent on meter readers. Customers will not shoulder any additional costs for using the new meters.

The utility will also boost services to advise households on power-saving steps. Tepco will team up with Opower, a U.S. firm offering advice on enhancing energy efficiency, to analyze household power use and propose the most suitable price plans.