The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is considering making customers of new, smaller power companies who previously used nuclear energy from Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) and other utilities shoulder part of the surging compensation costs for the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Under the Act on Compensation for Nuclear Damage, nuclear power operators must each provide 120 billion yen to be used together with money paid by TEPCO and other major utilities to the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation to provide compensation. However, the compensation bill for the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant disaster continues to grow, and the compensation fund is expected to be left trillions of yen short.
The ministry takes the view that major utilities should have gathered more compensation funds from their customers, and it therefore plans to seek compensation funds from those who were previously in contracts with major power companies, using their nuclear energy.
A plan has surfaced to charge small-scale power companies more to deliver electricity through the power grids of major utilities, with the extra costs to be used for compensation. This and other plans will be debated on Nov. 2 at a working group of a ministry committee on energy reform. However, as some customers could face higher bills as a result, the move could trigger a public backlash.