Competition between power companies is likely to intensify after Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Thursday announcement of a plan to sell electricity across the nation. Other power companies have already begun expanding their markets into the Tokyo metropolitan area, in the run-up to a full and nationwide liberalization of the electricity retail business planned for 2016. TEPCO’s latest moves will target businesses in Kansai and Chubu, as well as other regions.
TWO years have passed since an earthquake and tsunami destroyed the huge Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant owned by Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO), on the Japanese north-east coast—and precipitated a phased shutdown of the country’s 54 nuclear plants for stress testing, maintenance and further seismic analysis.
With the last reactor turned off in May 2012, the past summer was when Japan started to live without nuclear power for the first time since 1970. Before the disaster struck, nuclear power accounted for 29% of the country’s electricity supply, with plans for boosting it to 50% by 2030. Such intentions are now out of the question. To compensate for the loss of such a large chunk of electrical capacity, households and businesses across Japan were threatened with black-outs and to make reductions of up to 15% in consumption or face stiff penalties. In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, the electricity was switched off in some parts of the country for up to four hours a day.