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The list of companies that have registered themselves as new power suppliers to businesses and local governments now numbers 64, up from 46 last September, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said.

The ministry data, released Wednesday, point to enhanced interest in gaining Power Producer and Supplier status ahead of further deregulation in the electricity market.

New entrants, which are generally more competitive because they tend to offer lower rates, could put pressure on conventional utilities to reduce tariffs.

As of May, however, only 27 PPSs were supplying electricity, as the new entrants apparently struggled with such hurdles as limited market participants, expensive fees for power transmission networks and high fuel costs.

Several firms, including Ennet Corp., a joint venture of Tokyo Gas Co.; Osaka Gas Co. and NTT Facilities Inc.; Marubeni Corp.; and Summit Energy Corp., wholly owned by Sumitomo Corp., are increasing their presence among PPSs. Nippon Paper Industries Co., which gave notice to METI in May, has power generation facilities with a combined capacity of 1.7 million kw.

A PPS is defined as a firm that supplies electricity to customers contracted for 50 kw or more, using the power line networks of major utilities. To do business, PPSs need to notify METI.

PPSs accounted for 3.56 percent of the power sold to large-lot users in fiscal 2011.

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