• Kyodo News

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The nation’s 10 electric power and four major gas utilities will raise rates in April due to fuel price hikes between last November and January, they said Friday.

It will be the first time in seven months for all 14 companies to increase their charges.

Given that the electricity and gas hikes do not include this month’s crude oil price surge amid the turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa, the utilities are expected to increase their charges again in May.

The average price of crude oil rose 5.4 percent in the November-January period from the October-December period, while the average price of liquefied natural gas increased 1.4 percent and that of coal was up 0.9 percent.

The hike in electricity rates is also due to a new system starting in April for utilities to pass on the costs of their purchases of surplus solar electricity from households. The purchase of surplus solar power will result in increased monthly charges ranging from ¥2 to ¥21 per household.

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