Hokkaido Electric hikes prices 12%, joining nation’s most expensive utilities


Hokkaido Electric Power Co. raised prices for households by an average of 12.43 percent on Saturday, the first of the nation’s major utilities to carry out a second full rate hike since March 2011.

Hokkaido Electric obtained government approval to raise so-called small-lot power charges by 15.33 percent on average starting in November, but will keep the hike to 12.43 percent until the end of March 2015 as a one-off measure to soften the blow to households.

Hokkaido used to be among the regions with the lowest electricity charges in Japan, but the utility’s charges are now among the highest, nearly on a par with Tokyo Electric Power Co. and Okinawa Electric Power Co.

Power rates for large-lot users, mainly businesses, rose by an average of 16.48 percent starting Saturday and will last through the end of March 2015. The full rate hike of 20.32 percent will then take force in April.

The full-fledged rate change is different from the monthly power rate reviews, or adjustments, often conducted to reflect changes in oil and natural gas prices and do not require government permission to execute.

In November, the monthly power rate for a standard household is projected to reach ¥8,198, incorporating the impact of the monthly review, up ¥856 from the previous month. Without the temporary measure, the cost would be ¥8,380.

The power industry is facing expanded costs for procuring fossil fuels for thermal power generation because all nuclear power plants remain suspended in the wake of the March 2011 meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 power station.