中電の越境販売 「地域独占」の壁はなお厚い

The Yomiuri Shimbun August 15, 2013
Electric utilities monopolies show no sign of weakening
中電の越境販売 「地域独占」の壁はなお厚い(8月14日付・読売社説)

Chubu Electric Power Co.’s planned purchase of electricity retailer Diamond Power Corp. marks a step toward changing the status quo of the solid regional monopoly enjoyed by electric power companies, though thick barriers to overcome remain.
 電力会社の強固な地域独占に風穴を開ける一歩だが、壁はなお厚い。

By purchasing Diamond Power, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corp., Chubu Electric will start selling electricity in Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s service area.
 中部電力が三菱商事の電力小売子会社「ダイヤモンドパワー」を買収して、東京電力管内で電力販売に乗り出す。

Chubu Electric also plans to jointly build a new coal-fired power plant in Shizuoka Prefecture with Mitsubishi and others and start supplying electricity in TEPCO’s service area in 2016.
 さらに中部電は、三菱商事などと静岡県に石炭火力発電所も新設し、2016年から東電管内に電力供給を開始する計画だ。

The sale of electricity to large-lot customers, including factories and offices, was liberalized in stages from 2000. However, Kyushu Electric Power Co. is the only major utility engaged in the “cross-border” sale of electricity. Kyushu Electric sells electricity in Chugoku Electric Power Co.’s service area.
 工場やオフィスなど大口向けの電力販売は、00年から段階的に自由化された。それでも、大手電力による「越境販売」の実績は、九州電力が中国電力管内で行っている1件にとどまる。

This is probably because power companies place priority on providing electricity in their own service area, where they are responsible for power supply. However, it is undoubtedly the case that major power companies have avoided competing with each other as much as possible.
 各社が、供給責任のある自社管内への電力供給を優先してきたからだろう。しかし、大手電力同士が、できるだけ競争を避けてきたことも否めまい。

The government plans to resubmit to the Diet during its extraordinary session in autumn a bill for electricity system reform. The sale of electricity, including small contracts with households, as well as small and midsize stores, is expected to be fully liberalized as early as 2016.
 政府は今秋の臨時国会に、電力制度改革の関連法案を再提出する方針だ。家庭や中小商店など小口契約を含む電力販売の全面自由化も、16年をメドに実施される方向となっている。

Chubu Electric apparently aims to expand its revenue base by advancing into the Tokyo metropolitan area as it makes strategic preparations for the upcoming full liberalization of the electricity market.
 中部電は首都圏に進出することで収益基盤を広げ、全面自由化に布石を打つ狙いとみられる。

If more power companies—encouraged by Chubu Electric’s move—enter each other’s turf in the electricity market, it will pave the way for consumers to have a choice among more than one power company. Greater convenience can also be expected amid increased competition over rates and services.
 中部電の動きを呼び水に、各社による電力販売の相互参入が増えれば、利用者には複数の会社から電気を選ぶ道が開ける。料金やサービスの競争が活発化し、利便性が高まる効果も期待できよう。

Ensure competition

So far, however, other power companies are reluctant to engage in cross-border sales of electricity.
 ただ、今のところ、他電力は越境販売に前向きでない。

Chubu Electric’s case is unique. As TEPCO has been mired in financial difficulties due to the crisis at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, it has become difficult for TEPCO to build a power plant on its own. Chubu Electric’s idea of selling electricity beyond its territory was thus able to progress because TEPCO was willing to go along with it.
 中部電のケースでは、進出先の東電が福島第一原子力発電所事故で資金難に陥り、自力での発電所建設は困難という事情がある。東電の意向もあり、中部電の越境販売構想が前進したといえる。

A worrisome factor is that the electricity market will be liberalized, and power generation and transmission will be separated through electricity system reform while major power firms’ regional monopolies are effectively maintained. It is feared this will have various negative effects.
 気がかりなのは、大手電力の「地域独占」が実質的に維持されたまま、電力制度改革によって自由化や発電と送電部門の分離などが実施されることである。その場合、様々な弊害が懸念される。

If the current approval system for electricity rates is hastily abolished, there will be no means to restrain a rate hike under an “unregulated monopoly,” which would seriously undermine consumers’ interests. The government must carefully monitor progress in competition among power companies.
 料金の認可制を性急に廃止すれば、「規制なき独占」のもとで値上げを抑える手段を失い、利用者の利益を著しく損なう。政府が、競争の進展状況を慎重に見極めることが肝心だ。

In the United States and other countries, intensified competition due to market liberalization resulted in cuts to budgets for repairing power lines and other equipment. In one case, defects at power facilities caused a massive blackout.
 米国などでは、自由化による競争激化で送電線などを補修する経費も削られ、設備の欠陥が大停電を招いた例がある。

It is important to ensure a stable electricity supply to promote fair competition in the electricity market. To do so, nuclear reactors must be reactivated steadily once they have been confirmed safe to operate and efforts must be swiftly taken to resolve serious power shortages.
 電力分野の公正な競争を進めるためにも、電力の安定供給を確保することが重要だ。それには、安全性を確認できた原発を着実に再稼働し、深刻な電力不足の解消を急がなければならない。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 14, 2013)
(2013年8月14日01時56分 読売新聞)
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by kiyoshimat | 2013-08-16 07:38 | 英字新聞

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