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10 governors demand TEPCO explain corporate power bill hike

49 Comments

Ten governors have protested to Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) about the utility's plans to hike electricity charges for corporate users.

Saitama Gov Kiyoshi Ueda presented a petition to TEPCO President Toshio Nishizawa during a meeting this week, NTV reported.

Besides Saitama, the petition was signed by the governors of Yamanashi, Tokyo, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Chiba, Kanagawa, Shizuoka and Nagano prefectures. In it, the governors criticize TEPCO's plans to raise energy prices, and demand an explanation of the reasons behind the hike.

TEPCO announced in January that it will hike electricity bills for corporate users, starting April 1, by 17% to cover costs of switching to other forms of power. TEPCO also said the extra revenue will be needed to compensate those evacuated for radiation risks, as well as the massive costs for shutting down the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

The hike in rates will be applied to companies for 50 kilowatts or more, and is expected to bring an extra 400 billion yen annually to TEPCO's coffers.

TEPCO President Toshio Nishizawa said it was a tough decision but the company had no choice. TEPCO has said its fuel costs for fiscal 2011 are expected to increase by about 830 billion yen from the previous year.

Compensation for victims, decontamination expenses and costs for scrapping the plant are likely to balloon to trillions of more yen, and some taxpayer money has already been earmarked for a part of that bill.

During the meeting, Ueda urged Nishizawa to delay the rate hike for a year and to use that time to try and alleviate TEPCO's economic difficulties through cost-cutting measures and financial reform.

"TEPCO's behavior implies of a lack of self-awareness, despite it having just been involved in an unprecedented disaster. Raising energy rates is a terrible way to treat customers who are already being forced to cooperate in power-saving initiatives," Ueda was quoted by NTV as saying.

The high profile visit came hours after Ueda hit the headlines for saying he wanted to see TEPCO held criminally responsible for the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

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49 Comments
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Since TEPCO is "almost" nationalised there will be two choices, raise rates or raise taxes. Either way, the public will be paying, just a matter if it is those who benefit from the service or products at the receivnig end of the rate rise, or every tax payer in Japan (and extend that to everyone in Japan if it gets reclaimed via consumption tax)!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Well, good luck with that: The world has demanded that Tepco explain Fukushima Dai-Ichi accident for almost a year now, with no success. I'd personally would like an explanation why a two week long x-mas holiday (the house being completely dark and cold) had absolutely no effect on our electric bill.

Anyway, it's ok: Non-Japanese languages have plenty enough adjectives to explain Tepco.

4 ( +3 / -0 )

Unimaginable that a company can make billions of yen a year and have nothing left when problems arise. Someone has to pay for their mistakes, certainly not them. They have huge salaries to pay for. Feel bad for them.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Power bill remaining the same despite holidays: Yeah! Me too!! I'd also like to know why my electricity bill us going up up up while all the time we are trying to get it down by spending a small fortune on LED lights.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Zichi...completely agree...either way, the consumer always makes the final payment. Nice idea that there should be more supply companies. Might stabilize power prices very quickly.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Honestly speaking, Tepco's billing practices aren't that big mystery: they charge an average taken over an unspecified period of time. This enables them to get a predictable set sum and thwart any benefits the customer might receive from energy savings and periodical low-usage. The breakers on the transformer box in you house prevents "freebies" that occasional spike usage might have given to those who pay Tepco's existence, i.e. the customer (and with the tax money pumped into them, everybody in Japan, including non-customers).

As I said, plenty of adjectives to explain Tepco.

4 ( +3 / -0 )

Why is this guy not PM? He asks the right questions, wants them held criminally responsibly, cares about the people....

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Back on topic please.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Governor Ueda is on the right track here. As zichi said many times before, sell off TEPCO's assets, cut of everyone's heads ... I mean benefits, and get those corporate hands some gloves, as they need to do manual work.

Although, at a hindsight, I guess someone might try to sweep this under the rug sooner or later.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@Elvensilvan,

Yes, I too think that Ueda is on the right track here.

And I guess you are right, it would be a waste of valuable resources to have zichi for PM but I still would have loved to see the press photos of zichi in his goggles shaking the hand of world leaders.

Regarding rug-sweeping, you can be sure of it. See my comment on the 'JT Quote of the Day'

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Another rectal pummelling for the hardworking, overtaxed, underappreciated, radioactive punter! I'd like to see these lazy, incapable, rapacious, compulsive liars who run TEPCO given a blindfold and a last cigarette! Pff!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

This is why Japanese politics never accomplishes anything. Anytime a firm decision is made, someone gets crucified and then nothing comes of it. People are all about finding problems, not finding solutions. What do the Japanese governors suggest? "Wait a year and see if things work without this". Hasn't Japan waited long enough already? If you want TEPCO to fix things, then TEPCO has to pay for it, which means that TEPCO needs money. Your other option is for Japan to pay for it by raising taxes in Japan. Selling off the company isn't going to raise money for recovery efforts.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

How about all TEPCO upper-level execs give up their salary/bonuses for the next year or two? I'm sure that would save the company a lot of money. But, god forbid the people responsible for making the terrible decisions that put TEPCO in this situation in the first place should suffer any consequences for it... Just say "Moushiwake gozaimasen" and pass it on to the little guy.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Kiyoshi Ueda for PM please! Yes, criminally responsible and with a death sentence or life with no parole

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The myth that, "nuclear energy is safe, clean and cheap", is busted!

Is fossil fuel OK? Not raping the environment in any way? Busted or not, we will still pay more for our electricity, and even more when leading edge renewables come online (initially at least whilst investment costs are recovered) and unless we stem our apetite for all things electric, I think we will continue to depend on nuclear power for a long time to come.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

This is just the begining, TEPCO will first try to recover Fukushima costs from corporates and eventually from you and me. By doing this TEPCO wants you and me to responsibily pay for Fukushima mess.

Sell off your ASSets, TEPCO!!. Say "sayonara" to your bonuses and reduce your salaries. Do not beg in front of your customers.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The fact that

The myth that, "nuclear energy is safe, clean and cheap", is busted!

is +5 but

Is fossil fuel OK? Not raping the environment in any way? Busted or not, we will still pay more for our electricity, and even more when leading edge renewables come online (initially at least whilst investment costs are recovered) and unless we stem our apetite for all things electric, I think we will continue to depend on nuclear power for a long time to come.

is -1 shows that the people on this website aren't interested in hearing anything contrary to their views. Even with this disaster, there are far fewer deaths related to nuclear power than many other forms of energy, such as coal mining. And it's kind of weird to say that nuclear power isn't cheaper in an article that's talking about how TEPCO needs to raise prices because they aren't using nuclear power.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

it's kind of weird to say that nuclear power isn't cheaper in an article that's talking about how TEPCO needs to raise prices because they aren't using nuclear power.

They don'(t have to raise prices because they aren't using nuclear power. They have to raise prices to pay for the clean-up from their 'safe, cheap, clean' nuclear plant that got wet and contaminated half a country, to pay some (not enough) compensation for all the lives they wrecked (you don't have to be dead to be a victim) and to pay for proper testing of all the remaining nuclear power plants that we were previously assured were perfectly safe and now no one is quite sure anymore.

There is a need to stem our appetite for all things electric, and given a choice between automatic doors, heated toilet seats and neon neon everywhere on the one hand, and the possibility of more and more radiation getting into the milk and water my little granddaughter drinks, the food she eats and the streets she walks on on the other, I really don't see that there's any contest.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

@RowanM

There are a lot of alternative energy sources out there, like the planned offshore wind farm, has been in use since 2003 in Norway and many other countries have been constructing, China is now the world's third largest wind-powered country generating 20GW of electricity.

For Japan, 500MW of electricity would take about 2 billion US dollars to build, and has a lifespan of approximately the same as a nuclear power plant. Comparing this to a nuclear power plant, the costs for wind farms are very low, even for decommissioning and clean-up.

Gah! zichi posted before I could finish this composition.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@RowanM,

And it's kind of weird to say that nuclear power isn't cheaper in an article that's talking about how TEPCO needs to raise prices because they aren't using nuclear power.

Well the nuclear industry is heavily subsidized. If it were to carry its own costs it would be far from cheap. A couple of BBC articles about subsidizing in the UK, but this takes place in every country I've heard of with nuclear power. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-16646405 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13393732

Even with this disaster, there are far fewer deaths related to nuclear power than many other forms of energy, such as coal mining.

The tallied up health effects of this disaster will not be known for many decades. And if you want to compare miners, then uranium miners are not exactly better off than coal miners.

So do coal or whatever for now if you have to, but do renewable for the future. If we continue to invest as we've done in nuclear, then nothing is ever going to change.

Nuclear was the energy of the future 60years ago, today it is just old and ugly.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Also if a "small" accident like TMI was nearly enough to close down the US nuclear industry for good. Then surely Fukushima would be more than sufficient to convince Japan to kick it's nuclear habit?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Then surely Fukushima would be more than sufficient to convince Japan to kick it's nuclear habit?

How I fervently wish what you said would come true.

Sadly, the Japanese government is very close with IAEA ... and remember that with or without the locals' approval, the NPPs can be restarted by the government when they deem necessary.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Elvensilvan,

Yeah, I know. I was feeling uncharacteristically positive about humanity there for while. Not to worry, I will soon be back to my grumpy, cynical old self.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is the entire purpose of the Capitalistic system........the slave population always pays.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is the entire purpose of the Capitalistic system........the slave population always pays.

True, to borrow a quote from someone who's name I have forgotten. And my apologies if I mangled it.

'In the 80s Capitalism defeated Communism, In the 90s it defeated Democracy.'

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Goethe said: No one is more of a slave than he who thinks himself free without being so.

It has also been said/written as: There is no bigger slave than the one who thinks himself free.

Goethe also said: Fools and wise-folk are alike harmless. It is the half-wise, and the half-foolish, who are the most dangerous.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The governors have prohibited TEPCO from restarting any reactors that have been shut down for one reason or another, and now are complaining because TEPCO has to use more expensive alternatives for power to make up the shortage in supply? This is just a political dog and pony show for the press. The governors know exactly why the rates need to increase but it wouldn't help them politically to say that TEPCO should be allowed to charge what it feels is needed providing they can back it up with numbers.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It's no choice. it's unavoidable for Japan to face rising the cost of electricity because the real cost of nuclear power including risk for big disasters had been unaware for long time. Even though TEPCOS's behavior in announcing the cost increasing is not good, Japan should reconsider which sources for power are reasonable from cost and risk point views.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In it, the governors criticize TEPCO’s plans to raise energy prices, and demand an explanation of the reasons behind the hike.

Reason: Oil, Coal and Gas have to be paid for.

These governors are morons.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Reason: Oil, Coal and Gas have to be paid for.

That's not the reason for the hike. The extra money is need to pay for the clean-up of the 'safe, cheap, clean' nuclear power plant that exploded and to compensate all the people who lost their homes and/or jobs when Fukushima Daiichi went into meltdown.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It's certainly one of the reasons Cleo.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

is -1 shows that the people on this website aren't interested in hearing anything contrary to their views.

A stretch, no? More likely it show one person, ONE, disagreed with one of the assertions/points made. I myself have a hard time reckoning the "costs" when we still can't see the entire untold costs of nuclear accidents, death, lost crops, wages, real estate, cancer and treatment etc, of not just this one accident but many vs the history of fossil fuels. Likely we've not yet seen the worst nuclear accident yet not by a long shot. Relying on this technology, which is obviously not safe is playing with fire. Computing the costs, in my view is difficult. Anyway that was my thought when reading his point. But I didn't down vote him for it, yet.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Star Viking - No it isn't. The power companies are in the business of buying fuel and converting it into electricity to sell to people. Don't try to tell me that it costs more to buy a bit extra fossil fuel and use it in existing power plants than it does to clean up three meltdowns.

They showed on TV once how the electricity charges are calculated not by how much it costs for the fuel, but by how many and what kind of facilities the power company owns and operates. Nuclear power plants, being expensive to build, hike up the charges. All other things being equal (which of course they are not) you'd expect that with 4 npps fewer in the calculation, charges would be cheaper, not more expensive. It's the clean-up and compensation that need to be paid for that are adding to the price of electricity, not an extra few tons of coal.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Cleo,

the clean-up costs are spread over the length of the clean-up operation - the fossil fuels have to be paid for now.

As for the costs, the NPPs are paid for and fueled, so the fossil fuels are an additional cost.

As for the few tons of coal - one shipload to Tohoku contained 63,000 tons of coal. http://gcaptain.com/bulk-carrier-docks-fukushima/?40011

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

zichi Feb. 19, 2012 - 02:43AM JST

If TEPCO is increasing it's corporate power charges. claiming an increase of fuel due to the loss of it's nuclear plants, why aren't the other mainland 9 power companies also increasing their charges? The tenth power company is in Okinawa but does not generate power from nuclear energy.

Well their financial reserves are probably in better shape than TEPCOs, so perhaps they're raiding the savings. Also, looking at things for a logical viewpoint - they can't get the fossil fuels for free.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

zichiFeb. 21, 2012 - 03:17PM JST

Star-Viking,

In your linked article about a shipment of coal landing in Fukushima, it was fot the Soma Kyodo Power Co. and has nothing to do with TEPCO.

Sorry Zichi, that is incorrect. From http://af.reuters.com/article/commoditiesNews/idAFL4E8DF2FL20120215

"The 50-50 joint venture between Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) and Tohoku Electric Power Co is using a mix of thermal coal and fuel oil at the units, the source said."

The coal fired power plants are already generating near maximum power so there won't be any big increases in coal, unless some of the power companies decided to bring back online mothballed plants, which would take several years of updating.

My link above also states the plants are running at 50% capacity, and will be up to full capacity in the summer.

As for the other coal plants - that depends on their status - are they mothballed, or kept ready to deal with surges in demand and to cover downtime at other plants?

There has been an increase in LNG and Russia has offered LNG at reduced prices. There will also be some increases in oil.

You know my usual response: more CO2, not what we need - though LNG is, on paper, less prolific with respect to CO2 (though some studies suggest more greenhouse emissions drill-side).

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

zichi Feb. 21, 2012 - 03:24PM JST

TEPCO can buy additional power from the other power companies, which it did last summer, but probably the profit margin is lower than when it generates it's own power.

It can get some from Western Japan, though the East-West interconnection limits supply. Tohoku does not have any to send, Hokkaido may have some - though there will be losses due to the distance the electricity has to go.

We also have to be careful about total reliance on Thermal Plants, according to the Yomiuri:

Power companies are becoming increasingly dependent on thermal power plants. However, more than 10 cases of power generation units temporarily shutting down due to technical problems have been reported since summer. On Feb. 3, the operation of Kyushu Electric Power Co.'s Shin-Oita thermal plant, which has a capacity of 2.29 million kilowatts, was suspended temporarily. Six power companies provided 2.4 million kilowatts of power to Kyushu Electric to avoid a shortage.

Ref: http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T120221004877.htm

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

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