Tepco Wields Cheaper Power as Japan Market Reform Battle Looms

  • New pricing schemes may reduce bills as much as 5 percent
  • Tepco to bundle services with partners SoftBank, Bic Camera

Tokyo Electric Power Co. will offer discounted electricity as it expands services through partnerships with companies including SoftBank Group Corp. and Bic Camera Inc. when Japan opens its power market to competition.

The country’s biggest power utility will offer electricity packages for retail consumers that reduce bills by as much as 5 percent, according to Rieko Sato, a corporate officer at the company. Tepco, as the utility is known, faces potential competition from at least 100 companies that have registered to sell electricity in the run-up to Japan’s retail power market liberalization in April.

“We are preparing for fierce competition,” Tomoaki Kobayakawa, a managing executive with Tepco, said during a briefing in Tokyo on Thursday. “This is a chance for us to transform into a comprehensive energy service company.”

In Tepco’s premium plan, customers who use 700 kilowatt hours a month will save 29,300 yen ($249) over the course of a two-year contract, the company said in a statement. Bundled packages will offer consumers savings on other services including gas, Internet and mobile contracts.

Jupiter Telecommunications Co., Japan’s largest cable TV operator jointly owned by mobile operator KDDI Corp. and Sumitomo Corp., said Wednesday it would offer electricity at a discount to regional utilities, including Tepco. TonenGeneral Sekiyu KK, a Japanese refiner, said this week customers that switch to their electricity service can save as much as 6 percent.

Companies are competing for a piece of Japan’s shrinking 8.1 trillion yen retail electricity market. Power use in November declined 3.8 percent from a year earlier to 60.7 terawatt hours, the lowest since 1999, according to data from the country’s Federation of Electric Power Companies.

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