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2014年5月11日 (日)

電力経営―逆境を「変革元年」に

May 10, 2014
EDITORIAL: Time for electric utilities to abandon follow-the-crowd strategy
電力経営―逆境を「変革元年」に

Fiscal 2014, which began April 1, will likely shape up as a crucial year for Japanese electric utilities. The situation surrounding their businesses will sorely test their ability to think unconventionally and make bold strategic moves based on accurate predictions for the sector.
 電力各社にとっては、旧来の思考法から脱し、先を読んで攻めていく力が問われる1年になりそうだ。

Six of the 10 major electric power companies that effectively monopolize the regional retail power markets have reported losses for fiscal 2013. Five of them lost money for the third consecutive year.
 電力会社の今年3月期決算は6社が赤字だった。うち5社は3期連続だ。

Hokkaido Electric Power Co. and Kyushu Electric Power Co. have decided to receive fresh capital from the government-financed Development Bank of Japan.
北海道電力と九州電力は日本政策投資銀行から資本支援を受けることにした。

Even after the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, Japan’s established power utilities, except for the operator of the crippled plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co., have basically maintained their traditional management policies.
 福島第一原発の事故が起きた後も、東京電力以外の各社は基本的に、震災以前の路線を踏襲してきた。

Despite the Liberal Democratic Party’s return to power, things have not turned out the way the companies had hoped. Although the Abe administration has decided to keep nuclear power generation in Japan, it has been cautious about allowing utilities to restart idle nuclear reactors or raise electricity rates because of concerns over a likely public backlash.
 だが、自民党が政権に戻っても、事態は電力会社の都合のいいようには動いていない。原発維持を打ち出した安倍政権も、安易な再稼働や電気料金の値上げは国民の反発を招くことを承知しているからだ。

Some utilities are finally beginning to talk about decommissioning aged reactors that are unlikely to generate sufficient profits to enable them to recoup the huge investment needed to make the reactors meet new tighter safety standards.
 ここにきて、新しい規制基準に見合うよう資金を投じても回収の見込みが立たない老朽化原発について、ようやく「廃炉」の選択肢を口にする会社が出始めた。

In Japan, people have become so sensitive to the issue of nuclear safety that even minor troubles will force utilities to stop the reactors to identify the problems and work out remedial measures.
 日本では今後、小さなトラブルでも原子炉を止めての原因究明と対策とが求められるだろう。

Atomic energy can no longer be claimed to be a cheap and stable power source in this nation.
もはや原発は「安くて安定的」な電源とは言えない。

At some utilities, sections other than the ones in charge of nuclear power operations are beginning to argue that the limited resources of the companies should be used to build state-of-the-art, energy-efficient thermal power plants or reinforce their power grids.
 社内でも原子力部門以外からは「限られた資源を最新鋭火力や送電網の増強に」との声があがり出している。

Given the current harsh business environment for established utilities, it is hardly surprising that anxiety is growing among them about the possibility that sticking to the policy of maintaining nuclear power generation could jeopardize their future.
原発にこだわりすぎると深い傷を負うとの危機感は、厳しい状況を考えれば自然の成り行きだ。

The proposed power market reform will also have a huge impact on the industry. The current pricing system, which allows utilities to pass all costs on to consumers through electricity rates, and their regional monopolies will eventually be abolished as part the reform. That will make it necessary for them to pay attention to even more “variables” than now in mapping out their business strategies.
 電力改革が与えるインパクトも大きい。経費をすべて電気料金から回収できる総括原価方式や地域独占が撤廃されれば、いま以上に多くの「変数」を見極めながら戦略を立てる力が不可欠になる。

Signs of change are emerging within the region served by TEPCO.
 兆しはすでに東電管内での動きに表れている。

Since it cannot build new power plants, the utility, which has received a large injection of public money, is seeking alliances with other companies.
 自力で新たな発電所をつくれない東電は、他社との提携を進める。

The Tokyo metropolitan area, the largest power market in Japan, will become a key battlefield for electricity suppliers as power deregulation proceeds.
国内最大の電力消費地である首都圏が今後は草刈り場になる。

In addition to electric utilities, domestic and foreign companies from different industries, such as gas suppliers, steelmakers and trading houses, are showing interest in entering the market.
 電力業界だけでなく、国内外のガス会社や鉄鋼メーカー、商社といった異業種も関心を寄せる。

The large utilities could make the fatal mistake of failing to keep up with the vital changes in the market if they remain wedded to their traditional follow-the-crowd strategy.
電力大手が従来の横並びに甘んじていると、致命的な出遅れになりかねない。

Chubu Electric Power Co. and Chugoku Electric Power Co. are planning to enter the Tokyo metropolitan power market in partnership with companies with which they have close business ties.
 中部電力や中国電力は、それぞれ関係の深いガス会社や鉄鋼メーカーと組んで名乗りをあげる構えだ。

The situation poses some serious strategic questions to Kansai Electric Power Co., which is struggling to stay above water because of its heavy dependence on nuclear power. As its plight is drawing much attention, the utility that serves the Kansai region around Osaka is finding it hard to make an effective response to the changing business environment.
原発依存率が高く、経営が苦しい関西電力がどう出るのか。注目が集まる中、悩ましさは人一倍だろう。

But the challenges now facing established utilities are basically the same as those that Japanese companies in other industries had to tackle as they responded to such earth-shaking trends as deregulation and globalization while experiencing bitter failures and industry shakeouts.
 とはいえ、それらは他の産業が自由化やグローバル化の中で失敗や淘汰(とうた)を繰り返しながら経験してきた道である。

Utilities need to take the opportunity offered by this make-or-break fiscal year to reinvent their futures and become ordinary companies competing in a free market.
 そんな当たり前の経営へ。逆境の14年度を、ぜひ「変革元年」にしてもらいたい。

--The Asahi Shimbun, May 4

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