• Kyodo

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Kyushu Electric Power Co. sought approval from the government Tuesday for an average 8.51 percent increase in home electricity charges starting in April, citing increases in fossil fuel costs for power generation due to the prolonged suspension of its nuclear reactors.

The regional utility said it is also planning to hike charges for businesses by an average of 14.22 percent in April, for which it does not require government authorization.

Kyushu Electric is following Tokyo Electric Power Co. and Kansai Electric Power Co. in applying for rate hikes after the Fukushima crisis led to the effective shutdown of the nation’s nuclear plants. Shikoku Electric Power Co., Hokkaido Electric Power Co. and Tohoku Electric Power Co. are planning to follow suit.

It will be the first full-scale rate increase by Kyushu Electric based on reviews of fuel, personnel and other costs since 1980, during the second oil crisis.

Full-scale power rate revisions require government approval, although utilities are allowed to make monthly adjustments in charges based on fuel costs.

The request will be examined by a panel of experts at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and other agencies. Public attention will be focused on whether the requested increase will be scaled down and if so, by how much.

In the half-year period that ended Sept. 30, Kyushu Electric suffered a loss of ¥149.5 billion, its worst ever. The requested rate hike is based on the assumption that it will restart four of its six reactors in business 2013 or later.

Kyushu Electric said Tuesday its group net loss is projected to reach ¥365.0 billion in the full business year to next March 31 due to expanded fuel costs for thermal power generation, exceeding the previous year’s loss of ¥166.3 billion.

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