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Business

54,000 clients jump to other power companies

TOKYO -- About 54,000 subscribers in the regions around Tokyo and Osaka have decided to switch power providers ahead of Japan's liberalization of the retail electricity market in April, newly compiled findings show.

     The data is based on the number of customers cutting ties with the major utilities and moving to newly established providers or to existing power companies operating in other domains.

     An independent industry regulator looked at applications spanning the end of last year through Jan. 29 and put together the results, which will be announced Friday.

     About 33,000 customers in the Kanto region encompassing Tokyo are making a switch. Only around 21,000 clients in the Kansai region, which includes Osaka, are changing providers. With a nuclear plant resuming operations last week, Kansai Electric Power will offer lower rates this spring, a move that may factor into the discrepancy.

     Roughly 150 newcomers have received licenses to sell electricity, including household names like KDDI, Tokyo Gas, Osaka Gas and the Tokyu group. Smaller, regional sellers have also thrown themselves into the increasingly competitive market.

     If too many customers decide to switch, the big utilities may not be able to process all the changes. The current pace presents no issues, but the economy ministry predicts a bigger rush in applications down the road.

(Nikkei)

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