Panasonic, Epco form solar venture

Kyodo

Panasonic Corp. and Epco Co. have agreed to set up a joint venture to buy electricity from households generated with solar panels.

They will invest ¥300 million to establish the new company Jan. 31, aiming to win contracts of more than half a million households and post sales of more than ¥20 billion by fiscal 2018.

Electronics giant Panasonic will hold a 51 percent stake while the rest will be owned by Epco, which designs equipment related to solar power generation.

The joint venture will acquire know-how for procuring power from households, with an eye on the 2016 liberalization of the electricity retail market that will allow consumers to choose lower-rate suppliers, the two companies said.

Masahiro Ido, vice president of Panasonic’s Eco Solutions Co. and new president of the joint venture, said at a news conference Tuesday in Tokyo that the companies will take advantage of their strong relations with homebuilders and customer support expertise to win contracts from about 10 percent of households equipped with solar panels.