November 26, 2012 / 6:26 AM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Japan's Kansai Elec seeks 11.88 pct rate hike from April

(Recasts lead, adds details,)

TOKYO, Nov 26 (Reuters) - 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 safety checks.

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

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