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Power companies are moving again to raise their electricity rates to get out of dire financial straits caused by the increased cost of importing fuel to run more thermal power plants while their nuclear power reactors remain idled. Hokkaido Electric Power Co. is the first among the nation’s regional utilities to apply for government approval of a plan to raise its rates for the second time since the shutdown of nuclear power plants following the March 2011 triple meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 plant.

Other utilities including Kansai Electric Power Co. and Tepco may follow suit in the coming months.

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