Chubu Electric seventh utility to seek household rate hike

Kyodo

Chubu Electric Power Co. made it official Tuesday and applied for approval to raise household electricity fees, the seventh utility to seek higher rates amid the nuclear shutdown caused by the Fukushima disaster.

In its request filed with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Chubu Electric Power said it wants to raise electricity prices for households by an average of 4.95 percent next April 1.

The utility, which covers the Nagoya region, is already planning to raise rates for corporate customers by an average of 8.44 percent. This increase, which does not need government approval, also takes effect April 1.

The utilities are facing higher fuel costs for thermal power generation to make up for the loss of nuclear power. Before the Fukushima catastrophe started in March 2011, nuclear power provided about 30 percent of the nation’s electricity.

Chubu Electric Power owns the Hamaoka nuclear plant in Shizuoka Prefecture, but the government made an unusual request to suspend the plant about two months after the Fukushima crisis started because of doubts about the plant’s preparedness against quake-triggered tsunami.

Located on the Pacific coast about 190 km southwest of Tokyo, the Hamaoka complex is an area susceptible to a massive earthquake. Two of the five reactors at the plant were retired in 2009.