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.© Japan Today