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Japan's power utilities report 6th year of decline in power sales
April 28, 2017 / 11:35 AM / 8 months ago

Japan's power utilities report 6th year of decline in power sales

    By Osamu Tsukimori
    TOKYO, April 28 (Reuters) - Power sales at Japan's former
regional utilities dropped for the sixth straight year in the
year through March, as more and more retail accounts have
drifted away since the government opened up the market last
April.
    The energy sector has been in flux in the wake of the
Fukushima nuclear disaster of 2011, and in the last year the
government has removed the final barriers to cross-ownership
between gas and electricity suppliers.
    Power sales at the 10 former regional monopolies totalled
783.4 billion kWh in the year to March 31. That was down 1.7
percent from the previous year, a Reuters survey showed, and
about 15 percent off the record high recorded in the year to
March 2008.
    Sales are likely to slide more in the current business year,
with all eight of the utilities that reported outlooks
projecting another drop this year.
    Industry-wide revenues fell 7.1 percent in the year through
March to 18.06 trillion yen ($162 billion), with only Shikoku
Electric, which has seen relatively little new competition,
recording an increase.
    Sales at Fukushima operator Tokyo Electric (Tepco)
tumbled 11.7 percent. The company has lost a hefty 1.81 million
retail power customers on its home turf in the greater Tokyo
area as new suppliers have jumped into the market.
    To offset that, Tepco has attracted about 50,000 retail
power customers outside of its home area in the first year of
liberalisation, although that fell short of its target of
200,000 accounts.
    Overall, the 10 former big power utilities lost a combined
3.43 million retail power customers in the year since the market
was opened up, with the impact of liberalisation felt
nationwide.
    Chugoku Electric Power, headquartered in Hiroshima
in western Japan, was no exception, losing around 40,000 retail
customers.
    "More than 50 (new power entrants) have offered services in
our home area, spurring full-fledged competition," Akira Sasaki,
deputy general manager of Chugoku's Tokyo Office, told
reporters.
    All the former monopolies that own nuclear plants reported
falls in recurring profit, or pre-tax earnings before one-off
items, except for Kyushu Electric, which has restarted its
Sendai nuclear plant.
    A survey of the 10 utilities showed they had together lost
3.43 million retail accounts as of the end of March. In return,
they have acquired only about 168,000 retail customers in other
utilities' areas.
    To make up for the loss of customers, some are moving
quickly into the city retail gas market, with the sector - worth
more than $20 billion a year - having opened up this month to
companies beyond the regional firms that have typically piped
gas to homes around the country.
    Kansai Electric Power Co is leading this pack,
having gained about 140,000 city gas retail customers so far to
compete with Osaka Gas, which has picked up about
320,000 of its retail power accounts in return.
    The following table shows the number of switches to new
power providers made by retail power users in each area of the
former monopolies.
    The percentages are the ratio of the number of switched
accounts to each utility's total retail power accounts. The
number of retail power accounts the utilities have gained in
other firms' home turfs is mentioned in acquired column.
                           Lost      ratio       Acquired
           Utility    end-March  end-March    other areas
 Hokkaido Electric     164,600        6.0%           n/a 
   Tohoku Electric     121,800        2.2%           260 
             Tepco   1,813,800        7.9%        50,000 
    Chubu Electric     295,100        3.9%       100,000 
 Hokuriku Electric      20,600        1.7%         1,650 
   Kansai Electric     721,500        7.2%        12,000 
  Chugoku Electric      40,300        1.2%         1,100 
  Shikoku Electric      32,900        1.7%           600 
   Kyushu Electric     217,300        3.5%         2,300 
  Okinawa Electric           0        0.0%           n/a 
                                            
                                            
             Total   3,427,900        5.5%       167,910 
 ($1 = 111.4400 yen)

    
 (Additional reporting by Aaron Sheldrick; Editing by Hugh
Lawson)
  

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