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Japan’s regional power companies posted a record 3.4 percent drop in sales in fiscal 2009, logging its first consecutive year-on-year drops on record, an industry body said Friday.

But sales to large-lot industrial users in March 2010, the final month of fiscal 2009, surged 19.9 percent on year, the biggest rise ever in the category, the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan said.

Total power sales by the regional firms in fiscal 2009 totaled 858.5 billion kwh, according to the preliminary report.

The federation attributed the sudden drop and consecutive yearly falls since comparable data became available in fiscal 1972 primarily to sluggish sales from large-lot industrial users slowed by the prolonged global economic slump.

“The severe situation is likely to continue for a while, as it is forecast to take about five more years to recover to the level of sales posted before the Lehman shock,” a federation official said, referring to the collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in September 2008.

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