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OSAKA — A newcomer to the electric power retail market was awarded a one-year contract Monday by the Osaka Prefectural Government, making it the first company to outbid Kansai Electric Power Co. in the Kansai region since deregulation last March.

Ennet Corp., jointly set up in July by NTT Power and Building Facilities Inc., Tokyo Gas Co. and Osaka Gas Co., will start supplying electricity to the prefectural office on April 1, prefectural officials said. NTT Power is an NTT Corp. group firm.

Although the market for supplying electricity to large-lot users was thrown open almost a year ago, competition had been limited to Tokyo until Ennet’s entry into the Kansai market.

Tokyo-based Ennet will provide the prefectural office with 8.52 million kwh of electricity bought from an Osaka-based affiliate of Osaka Gas.

Buying excess electricity produced by other firms is a strategy other newcomers to the retail power market are expected to follow.

Kansai Electric Power said in a statement: “It is regrettable that we lost the bidding. Taking this result seriously, we will strive to further improve efficiency and enhance our competitive edge.”

Despite the loss, Kansai Electric remains a dominating presence in the Kansai power market.

When the prefectural government first opened bidding in September, Kansai Electric was the sole bidder.

Elsewhere in the region, the Osaka Prefectural Police and Kyoto City Hall are also inviting bids for contracts beginning in April, but again, Kansai Electric has been the only firm to enter a bid.

Ennet’s entry into the market is not expected to help lower electricity bills, however, because there is a limited supply of surplus electricity and because the sluggish economy has forced plants to reduce capacity or go idle, industry officials said.

In Tokyo, Diamond Power Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corp., won a tender in August to supply the former Ministry of International Trade and Industry, beating off competition from Tokyo Electric Power Co. and Tohoku Electric Power Co.

MITI became the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry in the administrative shakeup in January.

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