(Recasts lead, adds details,)
TOKYO Nov 26 Kansai Electric Power Co,
the Japanese utility most reliant on nuclear power, asked the
government on Monday to approve its plans to hike charges for
power sold to residential users, by an average of 11.88 percent,
from next April.
Kansai had said it was considering raising power prices for
the first time in 30 years to help cover fuel costs, with most
of its reactors idled after the Fukushima nuclear crisis sparked
by last year's earthquake and tsunami.
The company's move is expected to be followed by other
utilities saddled with higher fuel costs after the crisis, which
forced the closure of most of Japan's nuclear reactors for
Kansai's cost projections over the three business years from
April 2013 assume that the No.3 and No.4 reactors at its
Takahama nuclear plant would be allowed to restart from next
July, the company said in a statement.
Currently, Kansai has only two reactors operating at its
Ohi station of 1,180 MW each in western Japan, but both are due
to shut for maintenance around summer next year.
Further reactor restarts would depend on meeting new safety
regulations expected to be set by next July by the country's new
nuclear watchdog following the Fukushima disaster.
A rate hike in the restricted market of residential users
needs to pass scrutiny by a government panel, with the public
also invited to comment, before being approved by Japan's trade
minister, who also oversees the energy sector.
Kansai Electric also said it was seeking a price rise by an
average of 19.23 percent for corporate users from next April. A
rate hike in the deregulated market of large-lot users is up to
negotiations with users.
(Reporting by Risa Maeda; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)