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Five power firms nationwide dole out over ¥90 billion in dividends after rate hikes

JIJI

Five major domestic power companies have paid a total of some ¥90 billion in shareholder dividends since raising their electricity rates following the country’s worst nuclear disaster in March 2011, Jiji Press has learned.

While the fee hikes lifted their earnings, the five companies have yet to cut their electricity fees, according to an analysis Saturday.

The five are Kyushu Electric Power Co., Hokkaido Electric Power Co., Tohoku Electric Power Co., Shikoku Electric Power Co. and Chubu Electric Power Co.

All resumed dividend payments after raising their rates.

The five companies plus Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. and Kansai Electric Power Co. raised their rates amid financial difficulties stemming from the halting of the nation’s atomic power plants in the wake of the triple meltdown at Tepco’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

After raising rates, Chubu Electric paid some ¥37.9 billion in dividends by the end of 2016, the largest amount among the five companies.

Following its May 2014 fee hike, Chubu Electric returned to profitability in the year through March 2015 and doled out about ¥7.6 billion in dividends for the year.

The company paid some ¥18.9 billion in dividends in the year that ended in March 2016 and some ¥11.4 billion in the six months that ended in last September.

Tohoku Electric paid ¥29.9 billion in dividends, the second largest amount, after raising its rates in September 2013. It returned to profitability in the year that ended in March 2014, paying out about ¥2.5 billion.

Both Chubu Electric and Tohoku Electric have been boosting dividend payments.

Shikoku Electric paid some ¥4.2 billion in dividends each in the year that ended in March 2015 and the following year.

Kyushu Electric resumed dividends in the year that ended in March 2016, paying some ¥9.5 billion.

While raising its fees twice, in September 2013 and November 2014, Hokkaido Electric paid some ¥4.7 billion in dividends in the year that ended in March 2016. Its rates are the highest in Japan.

Tepco, which faces huge compensation and decommissioning costs related to the nuclear disaster, has not resumed dividend payments despite improved earnings.

Kansai Electric has also yet to resume dividend payments due to uncertainty over its financial health.

Chugoku Electric Power Co., Hokuriku Electric Power Co. and Okinawa Electric Power Co. have not raised their electricity rates after the Fukushima accident.

Defending its decision to resume dividend payments, Shikoku Electric said that dividend payments are its minimum obligation to its shareholders.