Japan's Tepco, Chubu Elec get regulatory nod to merge fossil power plants

A worker puts up new logo of TEPCO Holdings and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) Group on the wall ahead of the transition to a holding company system through a company split at the TEPCO headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, March 31, 2016. REUTERS/Masayuki Terazawa/Pool/File Photo

(Reuters) - The Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) has approved plans by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (Tepco) and Chubu Electric Power Co to integrate their fossil fuel power plants under their JERA Co joint venture, an official with the anti-monopoly regulator said on Friday.

The JFTC gave the green light in late September after determining that the deal, involving Japan’s biggest and third-biggest regional power utilities, would not have an impact on fair competition in the industry, the official said.

The pair had agreed in March to combine the businesses in April-September 2019, forming a company that will oversee 68 gigawatts (GW) of domestic power capacity, nearly half the country’s power generation.

Tepco and Chubu Electric set up JERA in 2015. It now handles all of Tepco’s and Chubu’s upstream energy and fuel procurement business and is the world’s biggest liquefied natural gas (LNG) buyer with annual intake of around 35 million tonnes.

The integration of fossil fuel plants is the last of a three-step plan for JERA, which also handles fuel transportation/trading, upstream energy assets and overseas power generation.

With nearly 8 GW worth of overseas power capacity, the integration of the JERA parents’ domestic plants would propel it to become one of the world’s major power utilities by installed capacity.

Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell