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Japan Utilities Seek to Raise Retail Rates as Fuel Costs Advance

Japanese electric-power companies are seeking approval to raise retail rates as increased use of liquefied natural gas drives up generation costs, a government energy adviser said.

Some of the applications have already been approved by the central government after factoring in the possible lower cost of buying LNG in the future, Hiroshi Hashimoto, a senior gas researcher at the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan, said in the July report.

LNG has replaced nuclear power as Japan’s primary fuel for power generation after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami led the government to shut the country’s reactors. The nation paid 6 trillion yen ($60 billion), twice as much as the year before, for a record 87.3 million metric tons of gas imports in 2012, according to customs data.

Eight out of 10 electric power companies besides Hokuriku Electric Power Co. and Okinawa Electric Power Co. had 1.6 trillion yen of net losses in the fiscal year ended March, a second annual decline, said Hashimoto. “They are severely bitten by the burdens to run thermal power generation capacity to replace lost nuclear power,” he said.

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