「ほっ」と。キャンペーン

東電処理と電力改革(下)―消費者が選ぶ時代に

--The Asahi Shimbun, Feb. 17
EDITORIAL: Consumers should lead the charge to reform power industry
東電処理と電力改革(下)―消費者が選ぶ時代に

The process of putting the embattled Tokyo Electric Power Co. under state control will likely serve as the ace in the hole for efforts to reform the electric power industry.
 国有化を通じた東京電力の処理は、電力システム改革の切り札になる。

The objective is to create an electric power market in which new entrants can compete on an equal footing with major players.
 めざすのは、新規参入者が公平に競争できる電力市場だ。

This would help ensure a stable power supply, the most formidable challenge facing Japan as it grapples with ways to lessen its dependence on nuclear energy.
 それは、日本が原発への依存度を減らしていくにあたって、最大の課題である電力の確保にも結びつく。

First, there should be more companies that generate electricity.
 まず、発電の担い手を増やさなければいけない。

Given the growing urgency to fight global warming, efforts must focus on renewable energy sources and natural gas.
温暖化対策を考えれば、自然エネルギーや天然ガスの分野が中心だ。

At the same time, efforts must be made to reduce the redundancy of electric facilities and equipment by linking distant power plants with areas where demand for electricity is great.
 同時に、全国各地の発電所と需要地を効率よく結んで、電力設備のムダをなくす。

To accomplish these goals, the government has no choice but to dissolve the current setup in which electric utilities have regional monopolies. This would also mean doing away with the system in which a single utility handles all power generation, transmission and distribution.
 どちらも、全国を分割して支配する「地域独占」「発電・送電・配電一体」という電力体制を改めることが不可欠だ。

Since the 1990s, the market for power generation and distribution has been nominally opened to new entrants.
 90年代以降、制度上は発電や小売りの自由化が進められた。

But major power suppliers with vested interests have resorted to various means to block the entry of new businesses.
Liberalization of the market is, in fact, in name only. The framework for the power industry needs to be drastically redesigned.
だが、既得権者の電力大手がさまざまな手で新規参入を阻み、有名無実化している。制度設計をやり直す必要がある。

Changes are taking place, however.
 すでに変化は起きている。

The March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami served as a wake-up call for quite a few companies and local governments. They now realize the risks of relying solely on TEPCO for power supply. Moves to switch contracts to new suppliers are gaining momentum.
 震災を機に、東電だけに電力を依存する危うさを実感した企業や自治体は少なくない。新規事業者に契約を切り替えようとする動きが加速している。

For their part, those start-ups have been hoping to expand their power generation facilities to bolster their supply capability.
 新規事業者も、供給力を上げるために発電設備を増やしたいところだ。

Clear direction needed
■政権の意思を明確に

However, they remain skeptical of the government’s commitment to overhaul the power industry and are unable to decide whether to go ahead with their plans. Operators of renewables must be harboring similar doubts.
 しかし、いまのところ踏み切れずにいる。国が本当に電力改革に踏み込むのか、疑心暗鬼だからだ。自然エネルギーの発電業者も同じ心境だろう。

The administration of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda must make its stance on this issue explicit and announce that it will drastically liberalize the electricity market.
 野田政権は大胆な電力自由化への意思を明確にすべきだ。

The administration would signal it is deadly serious about implementing bold reform if it sticks to its resolve to nationalize TEPCO.
東電の国有化に向けた断固たる姿勢は、その象徴となる。

If it is to encourage new investments in the power industry, the government must also create a mechanism that allows power companies to sell electricity freely.
 新たな投資を促すには、電力をもっと自由に売れる仕組みを整えることも重要になる。

The key to the creation of such a setup is the electricity wholesale market. An electric power exchange system has already been established to spur price competition through trading by adjusting demand and supply efficiently.
 ポイントは電力卸売市場だ。売買を通じて価格競争を促し、需給を効率的に調整するため取引所が設けられている。

But the exchange has failed to generate the intended result because of the low volume of transactions. Utilities that control transmission networks are to blame for this because they are reluctant to invigorate the electricity market.
 ところが、実際には取引量が限られ、思ったような効果をあげていない。送電網を握る電力大手が市場の活用には冷ややかだからだ。

After the reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and damage to thermal power plants created a power shortage last year, TEPCO restricted the use of transmission networks by other power companies to manage supply and demand in an integrated manner. As a result, trading at the exchange stopped.
 震災で電力不足に陥った際、東電は需給を一元的に管理するため、送電網の利用を制限し、取引所での売買はとまった。

Companies that had contracts with other suppliers were also affected by rolling blackouts implemented by TEPCO.
 東電以外の事業者と契約していた企業も、計画停電に巻き込まれた。

But they did not openly complain about or criticize TEPCO, apparently in fear that any sign of resistance would incur the wrath of this all-powerful utility.
 それでも、表立った苦情や批判が少なかった背景には、後々のことを考えて、強大な支配力をもつ東電に逆らうことへの不安があった。

Given this background, we cannot expect diversified players to enter the market. The government should not allow a single company to disrupt, for selfish reasons, stable power supply by competitors. Transmission networks must become part of an infrastructure that anyone can use equally.
 これでは多様なプレーヤーの参入は望めない。1社の都合で他社の安定供給まで妨げられる事態を避けるためにも、送電網は誰もが公平に利用できるインフラにしなければならない。

This is why the transmission and generation of power needs to be separate.
 送電部門を発電部門から切り離す「発送電分離」が求められるゆえんである。

Transmission networks for larger areas
■送電網の広域運用を

The government is weighing three plans, from one that separates power generation, transmission and distribution to one in which different companies own each function.
 政府内では、機能を分離する形から所有会社を別々にする方法まで3案が検討されている。

Currently, transmission networks are owned by regional utilities. Apart from TEPCO, which will be brought under state control, a new law should be established to separate transmission networks from those utilities.
 送電網は現在、電力大手の設備だ。国有化される東電はともかく、他の電力会社が持つ送電網を完全に切り離すには、新たな法律が必要になろう。

Even though it will take much time and effort, companies that are separate from electric utilities should handle transmission networks. That would ensure their independence. The final blueprint should be presented to the power industry so that the separation of the functions can be implemented in phases.
 だが、手間がかかっても将来的にはまったく別の企業にして独立性を確保すべきだ。そうした最終的な姿を示し、段階的に分離を進めることだ。

TEPCO should be split up into separate companies responsible for power transmission and generation, respectively. Then, the foundation for setting up a streamlined, neutral transmission company should be laid out. In this context, the cost structure of transmission networks must be made transparent.
New entrants have often complained about expensive fees for using transmission networks. The basis for cost calculation should also be made transparent.
 東電を分社化し、送電部門を発電部門と別会社にする。そのうえで、送電網のコスト構造を明らかにし、合理化して中立的な送電会社に向けた基盤をつくる。新規業者が「高すぎる」と批判する送電網の使用料も、算出根拠を透明にする。

Transmission network infrastructures can be used more efficiently when they cover wider areas.
 もともと送電網は、広域になるほど効率的に運用できる。

However, different frequencies are used in western and eastern Japan despite the country’s small size, and lines connecting between utilities are not equipped to handle a large amount of electricity in the event of a power crunch. This situation is the inevitable outcome of the existing system in which regional utilities dominate.
 それなのに、日本は狭い国土の東西で周波数が異なり、電力会社間の連携線も細い。地域独占を続けてきた結果だ。

Why not start by getting TEPCO’s transmission subsidiary to operate the transmission networks of Tohoku Electric Power Co. and Hokkaido Electric Power Co., both of which are in the 50-hertz zone. Since the Tohoku region and Hokkaido are particularly suited for wind-power generation, this could lead to the increased use of renewable energy.
 東電の送電子会社を軸に、50ヘルツ帯の東北電力、北海道電力と一体運用するところから始めてはどうか。東北、北海道は風力発電の適地であり、自然エネルギーの普及にもつながる。

A public watchdog is also needed to monitor the use of transmission networks. It should be authorized to coordinate supply and demand by working in tandem with the electricity wholesale market. If it is empowered to instruct power generation companies in emergencies, it would lead to the establishment of a power market where fairness is secured.
 送電網の運用を監視する公的機関も必要だ。電力卸売市場と連携して、需給の調整を担わせる。いざというときは発電会社にさまざまな命令を出せるようにすれば、市場機能を生かした公正な電力市場にできる。

■地域独占による弊害

For households, the installation of “smart meters” should be promoted as soon as possible. Diversified fee structures should also be made available. If consumers can buy electricity generated by renewables and choose payment plans to suit their lifestyle, power companies will move to meet their needs.
 家庭向けでは、通信機能がついた「スマートメーター」の普及を急ぎ、料金体系を多様化させる。消費者が自然エネルギーによる電力を購入したり、自分の生活に合わせた料金メニューを選んだりするようになれば、電力会社は利用者の意向を反映するようになる。

The Fukushima disaster drove home to us the closed nature of the power industry and the harmful nature of maintaining regional monopolies. To clean up the mess left by the disaster, we, as a nation, have no choice but to shoulder a financial burden.
 私たちは原発事故を通じて、電力会社の閉鎖性や地域独占の弊害を嫌というほど味わった。事故の後始末で、経済的な負担も背負わざるをえない。

We need to reinvent the power industry, changing it from one manipulated by suppliers to one allowing consumers to take the initiative.
 供給者側に都合のいい電力体制から、利用者が主導権を握る時代へ。

Our awareness of the urgency to revamp the power industry will pave the way for such reform.
 私たちの問題意識が改革への原動力となる。
[PR]

by kiyoshimat | 2012-02-21 06:45 | 英字新聞

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