Tepco to hold bids for 17 mln smart metres

TOKYO, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Tokyo Electric Power Co plans to install 17 million smart metres in households by 2019 and to invite tenders from both Japanese and foreign firms, the Nikkei business daily reported on Sunday.

A government body that is helping the company with compensation payments from the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year has urged the firm to do away with the current dependence on affiliated suppliers for its equipment and materials.

The two are now working to put together a business programme intended to prevent Tepco from becoming insolvent from the heavy costs associated with the world’s worst nuclear crisis in 25 years following the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

The government fund is expected to put Tepco under a temporary state control to keep it afloat.

As part of the programme, Tepco will install smart metres which monitor electricity use and send readings to utilities immediately, helping to reduce power usage.

The utility plans to hold the first tender in autumn, targeting about 3 million smart metres, it said. ($1 = 77.1200 Japanese yen) (Reporting by Rie Ishiguro)