Electricity retail liberalization has started - Collect right information and fully understand your contract details! Watch out for opportunistic solicitations -
The electricity retail market was fully liberalized on April 1, 2016.
In this circumstance, inquiries and complaints related to electricity retail liberalization have been continuously reported by consumers to the National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan (NCAC), local consumer centers across Japan, and the Electricity and Gas Market Surveillance Commission under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
Accordingly, NCAC has decided to share these consultation cases and provide advice for consumers.
Number of consultation cases
Transition in the number of consultation cases related to electricity retail liberalization
The number of consultation cases was 27 in FY2014 (from April 2014 to March 2015), 16 in April-June 2015, 35 in July-September 2015, 64 in October-December 2015, and 645 in January-March 2016.
Sample cases of inquiries and complaints
Received by the Electricity and Gas Market Surveillance Commission
- Inquiry about switching to a smart meter
- Inquiry about switching to a blanket power contract
- Inquiry about power supply in case of bankruptcy of a retail electricity supplier
- Inquiry about a contract with a retail electricity supplier in another area
Advice for consumers
When concluding a new contract with a retail electricity supplier, confirm the following three points in particular.
- Is it one of the retail electricity suppliers registered by the government, or is it the agent thereof?
- Contract details such as contract period, monthly electricity fee, and conditions for cancellation
- Contact information in case of problems such as blackout
As for the above [Case 2], please refer to the following advice.
- It is possible to switch to a retail electricity supplier even if a traditional meter (instead of a smart meter) is installed in your home. Each electricity company is changing old meters to smart meters.
- Blanket contracts for high voltage electricity for condominiums, apartments, etc. are not subject to the Electricity Business Act. We recommend you to carefully confirm contract details before changing your contract for electricity.
- Even if a retail electricity supplier goes bankrupt, contracts between the retail electricity supplier and customers thereof will not be nullified immediately.
- Now you have various options for retail electricity suppliers including those outside your local area. However, once you cancel the current contract with an electricity company, the same price menu and discount service may not be applied when you re-contract with the electricity company. So please carefully confirm terms and conditions before cancellation.
- If there is any doubt related to concluding a contract for retail electricity, contact the consultation service of the Electricity and Gas Market Surveillance Commission (TEL: 03-3501-5725) under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry or your local consumer center (TEL: 188, no prefix).