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Ten Electric Power Companies as Responsible Suppliers of Electricity

Currently, the ten privately-owned electric power companies are in charge of regional power supply services as General Electricity companies and are responsible for supplying electricity from power generation to distribution to the consumers in their respective service area. General Electricity companies must obtain approval from the Japanese Government by providing supply conditions such as electricity rates as general supply provisions to those consumers who are excluded from the retail liberalization.  They are also responsible for supplying electricity to consumers subject to retail liberalization, based on the provisions for last resort service, if they cannot conclude contracts with power producers and suppliers (PPSs).

The electric power companies work closely with each other to enhance the stability of electricity supply to customers nationwide. For example, they exchange or provide electricity via extra-high voltage transmission lines linking the entire country from north to south, in order to cope with emergency situations resulting from accidents, breakdowns, or summer peak demand.

The Linchpins of East-West Grid Connection-Frequency Converter Facilities

The frequency of grid power differs between eastern and western Japan, namely 50Hz and 60Hz respectively. This difference has a historical root in that the Tokyo area adopted German-made generators at the beginning of the electricity business while Osaka area adopted US-made ones. Therefore, Frequency Converter Facilities (FCF) are necessary to connect the eastern and western power grids. Three FCFs, namely Sakuma FCF and Higashi-Shimizu FCF in Shizuoka Pref. and Shin-Shinano FCF in Nagano Pref., operate to convert the frequency.

The capacity of East-West Grid Connection is planned for expansion to 2100MW in total by FY2020. This includes the increase in the capacity of Higashi-Shimizu FCF by up to 300MW in Frebruary 2013 by the Chubu Electric Power Company.

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