TEPCO applying to raise household electricity charges

Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings says the firm has applied for government approval to raise its electricity rates for households by an average of nearly 30 percent starting in June.

If the plan is approved, it will be the first increase since one in 2012, which followed the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and the nuclear disaster in Fukushima.

More than half of TEPCO's household-subscribers have signed up for an arrangement named the regulated electricity rate plan. The utility revealed that it applied for industry ministry approval on Monday.

TEPCO has cited as reasons for the hike the surging costs of natural gas and coal for thermal power plants. The rates are expected to be raised by an average 29.31 percent.

In its submitted operation plan, the utility has included bringing back online the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture.

Under the plan, the No. 7 reactor is to be restarted in October, and the utility will aim to restart the No. 6 reactor in April of 2025. TEPCO says these moves have enabled it to apply for smaller rate hikes.

Also, the company for the first time released its earnings forecast for its full business year. It disclosed that it will likely post a net loss of 317 billion yen, or 2.4 billion dollars, and be in the red for the first time in 10 years.

Company President Kobayakawa Tomoaki told reporters that soaring fuel prices are making the company struggle, and at the current rate, it may not be able to supply power in a stable manner.

He said the utility reached the difficult decision despite not wanting to burden its customers.