TEPCO seeks service partners to stay more competitive
TEPCO is pushing ahead to get service partners in place before the electricity market opens up to new players

Japan’s largest electric utility Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) has announced plans to sell electricity outside its service area, a move that follows government plans to open up the sector to increased competition, Reuters reports.

Tepco said last week it plans to start electricity sales nationally, but mainly in the services areas of Kansai Electric and Chubu Electric as early as October 1.

The move comes as Tepco has lost almost 10,000 large customer since the beginning of April last year, and the now government-controlled utility is paying billions of dollars in compensation following the meltdowns at Tepco’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

It is aiming for 34 billion yen (US$335 million) in annual sales outside its traditional service area within three years, and 170 billion yen within 10 years, however industry experts believe the utility’s inept response to the disaster may hinder its attempt to increase market share, the news agency reports.

Breaking monopolies
Meanwhile, Japan’s government is seeking to increase competition in the market in a bid to reduce the highest electricity rates in the industrialised world since the disaster, the news agency reports.

Plans include opening up regional grids, each tightly controlled by the local monopoly, to all participants by 2015 and fully liberalising prices for residential customers after that.

A final reform stage involves splitting up utilities into generation and transmission companies.

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