Japan’s largest utility Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) is seeking partnerships to bundle electricity with other services in a bid to boost competitiveness ahead of electricity deregulation.
TEPCO plans to kick start a marketing campaign in Q3 to find companies offering telecommunications, housing and nonlife insurance for discounted prices, The Japan Times reports.
The electricity supplier, which dominates Tokyo and the surrounding areas, is reported to be in talks with three major Japanese mobile carriers to find a partner for joint marketing.
The utility will likely choose its partner from among NTT Docomo Inc., KDDI Corp. and SoftBank Corp. and will reach a basic agreement by the end of April 2015, according to local media sources.
Preparing for electricity deregulation
Tepco said it wants to speed up the selection process for partnerships so it can start preparatory work needed for customer data management and billing systems.
It plans to fully launch a marketing campaign for bundled services before households are allowed to apply in January 2016 to switch their electricity supplier, the newspaper reported.
The move would also provide the utility with a nationwide sales network.
Opening up electricity retail market
TEPCO, like other utilities across Japan, is expected to face competition from new entrants for its service area, which encompasses nine prefectures in eastern Japan.
In September 2013, Japan had 106 registered PPS companies. In January 2015, it had 526 companies, with 40 signing up to be electricity retailers in the month of February.
The country kickstarts the reform programme in 2016 and will complete the full unbundling of the electricity system by 2020.
Smart metering Japan
As part of the government’s electricity deregulation plan, TEPCO has committed to rollout 27 million residential smart meters within its service territory by the time the Japanese capital hosts the Olympic Games in 2020.
The general electric utility confirmed that the smart meters would be in place by the time the Japanese government liberalizes the electricity retail market by unbundling the transmission and distribution sectors.
Read more: Smart grid trends in Japan: 7 things to know