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Tepco unveils loyalty tie-ups in bid to retain household customers

by

Staff Writer

With the retail electricity market set to be deregulated in April, Tokyo Electric Power Co. on Thursday unveiled a range of new price plans that offer discounts to customers who sign up with specific partners.

The revamp, which involves third-party suppliers from the gas, communication and entertainment sectors, is an attempt to retain customers. Tepco has tens of millions of them, but from April many may desert it for cheaper competitors.

Tepco’s new offers are designed to appeal to a wide range of users. Signing a package plan with both Tepco and Nippon Gas Co., a provider of household gas, will yield an annual discount of about ¥6,000.

And SoftBank Corp. plans to grant discounts to its mobile phone subscribers if they choose Tepco for their power, although details have yet to be announced.

Other partners include Internet access provider So-net Corp., cable music distributor Usen Corp. and consumer electronics retailer Bic Camera.

The utility said it will launch a loyalty incentives program under which users receive five points per ¥1,000 of utility charges. One point is worth ¥1.

The points can be moved to two other loyalty programs, T-point, operated by Culture Convenience Club Co., and Loyalty Marketing Inc.’s Ponta.

Tepco said users will be able to pay electricity bills with points from the spring of 2017.

Tepco said it will provide four basic plans, naming them standard, premium, smart life, and night.

It said the standard plan is similar to existing rates, but that users can benefit from the use of points.

The premium plan, which the firm recommends for people who use a lot of power, has a fixed monthly fee of ¥9,700, and if users exceed consumption of 400 kWh per month, an additional ¥29.04 per 1 kWh is charged.

Until now, Tepco has had a stranglehold on power supply in the Kanto area because Japan assigned specific regions to monopolies, citing the need to ensure a stable supply.

Competition from April is already apparent. Last month, new entrant Tokyo Gas announced the prices it will charge for households that switch over. It will be the company’s first foray into household power supply.

Moreover, regional utilities will be able to sell electricity outside their traditional areas of operation. Tepco plans to enter Kansai.