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.
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.