TEPCO Introduces Controversial Billing Plan and Small Rate Hike for Post Earthquake Kanto

March 25, 2011

Two new policies have been introduced by TEPCO in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that struck the Tohoku region this month. Residents to be affected by the billing changes are understandably livid after enduring both planned and unplanned blackouts, in addition to cooperating with TEPCO and government requests to conserve as much energy as possible.

The first bit of bad news residents received was that, because of the current situation, TEPCO would not be able to process users’ bills so they decided to bill the same for this month as the previous month. Needless to say, everyone in the area should have lower electricity bills after the conservation attempts, blackouts, and absences or short trips to other parts of Japan to wait out the troubles.

One blogger posted a picture of the most recent bill from TEPCO with the explanation (underlined at the bottom) which basically says that because of the disaster they were unable to process customers’ actual usage and so billed the same as the previous month.

Source: Kanasoku Blog

Customers are also angry following announcements that as of May the rates for electricity will jump 70 yen. Residents will also see a raise of 50 yen in their gas rates.

Although this is  a small amount of money, after the black-outs and radiation scares, residents do not seem to feel this is a good way for TEPCO to win back the hearts of its customers. Other bloggers have mentioned that they would gladly pay hundreds of yen in increases if they knew the money would also go toward helping the victims of the disaster.

On a side note, I have seen rumors that residents would not be charged for any day on which a blackout lasted more than an hour. I hope that they will charge the same as last month this month and work out the difference for customers when things calm down a bit.

That being said, I think the 70 yen increase is here to stay and was planned to be put into effect before the earthquake even happened. I would not be surprised if using last month’s billing to figure this month’s is just a way to bill customers in the short term, and hopefully next month will see a proper bill and reading made. I’m sure local residents will hear about TEPCO’s billing plans within the next few weeks, though.


1 Mr. S. March 25, 2011 at 2:38 pm

I have no trouble with anything less than a 15% increase in gas and electricity, especially because increasing rates has been the only way ever shown to increase conservation. I do have a few conditions: all the ‘amakudari’ dead-weight who got us into this are sacked without compensation and indited; the company and assets are nationalized (which with its debt load and liabilities is not unlikely); and there are scaled increases so that it does not stop companies from keeping people employed, but does get the locals to turn down all the stupid neon, fluorescent lights and loudspeakers!

2 jay@newzjapan March 25, 2011 at 2:54 pm

All these politicians step up and say they want to do away with amakudari until the time comes for them to retire and get some.

If you follow Governor Hashimoto’s exploits down in Osaka battling local fatcat politicians over simple things, you can see just how deeply rooted and sick the system can be. I know this happens everywhere (and can think of a myriad of examples in my home country USA), but I think that the thing that really shocks me about Japan is how blatant it can be… and that the regular people are targeted so harshly.

Remember complaints about how the highway tolls are supposed to be free by now, and as gas prices (meaning gas taxes) rise, it was found that a lot of the money went into building an office building specifically for the roads committee… it was fully equipped with karaoke machines in several rooms, and massage chairs. There was a lot of discussion about how the money was being used leading to the tolls being capped at a thousand yen for a given highway during one month in the spring a few years ago. They are looking at doing the same kind of thing again in the future, but there are always new reasons to put off the reduction of the tolls.

Sorry about the digression there…

Anyway, I hope life starts getting back to normal for you guys up there soon. It must be stressful… I also hope Tohoku can start rebuilding sooner rather than later. After the Great Hanshin Earthquake around Kobe, I remember insurance companies dragging their feet on payments delaying a lot of the reconstruction… many people also didn’t have insurance at all.

3 Brenda March 25, 2011 at 9:31 pm

Good article. I was confused with my energy bill when I first moved to Long Island. Each bill had an “estimated” reading and an “actual” reading line. Apparently in order to conserve man power and be more energy efficient with meter readers driving all over, LIPA instituted an every other month reading. So on the off month we get billed on the previous month’s usage, which is then prorated the next month when an “actual” reading is done. It makes for lots of ups and downs in the amount due, but it all works out in the end. And, I am all for the conservation! Maybe TEPCO needs to adopt a system like this…