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Kansai Electric Mulls Increasing Tariffs on Increased Fuel Costs

Kansai Electric Power Co., Japan’s second-biggest power generator, said it is considering increasing tariffs after posting a 117 billion yen ($1.5 billion) loss in the first half.

Increasing electricity prices to maintain stable supplies is “an agonizing choice”, the Osaka-based utility said today in a statement. The company has incurred rising fuel costs for thermal power generation to make up for the nuclear reactors it idled after the Fukushima disaster of March 2011.

Kansai Electric plans to raise prices by more than 10 percent for households and by as much as 30 percent for companies by September 2013, the Nikkei newspaper reported Oct. 21, without saying how it obtained the information. The loss in the six months to Sept. 30 was the biggest posted by the utility in the first half of a year, Kansai Electric spokesman Kazushige Akita said.

Of Japan’s 50 nuclear reactors, all except two owned by Kansai Electric remain offline after the Fukushima disaster shattered public confidence in the safety of nuclear energy and prompted weekly anti-nuclear protests. The nuclear shutdown could mean Japan’s nine biggest utilities will have to pay about 6.8 trillion yen for fossil fuel replacements in the year ending March 2013, nearly double the costs of two years earlier, according to the government.

Momosuke Ozuku, general manager at the company’s accounting and finance office, declined to comment on the details of the rate increase at a news conference today.

Kansai Electric didn’t provide a full-year forecast, citing uncertainty about the restart of idled reactors and the effect of power-saving measures on revenue. The forecast “will be disclosed as soon as it becomes available,” it said in its statement.

Kansai Electric gained 3.5 percent to 621 yen at the close of trading in Tokyo, before it announced its loss and plan to increase rates.

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