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Green energy losing subsidies

A fund to promote green energy such as wind and solar power is losing contributors because of waning public interest.

The electricity industry set up the fund in October 2000 to subsidize the expansion of costly renewable energy.

Under the system, individuals and businesses donate a fixed monthly fee along with their electricity bills. Regional electric utilities contribute a matching amount.

The number of contributors, however, fell to about 40,000 as of the end of March, down from a peak of about 43,000 two years earlier.

The amount of subsidies is expected to drop to about 650 million yen in the current fiscal year from about 740 million yen the previous year.

It will be the first decline since the fund was established.

The fund is operated in each service area of the nation’s 10 regional electric utilities.

The minimum unit for monthly donations is 100 yen in the Kansai region and 500 yen in other regions.

The number of contributors differs substantially depending on the region.

Kansai and Chubu regions have fewer than 10 contributors per 10,000 electricity supply contracts.

Other regions, such as Tokyo, Tohoku and Kyushu, have fewer than 10 contributors per 1,000 contracts.

Industry officials said donations are relatively heavy financial burdens for some electricity users.

Also some subscribers quit the program when they move.

Industry officials also said that the consumers who are environmentally conscious have already signed up for the fund and that it is difficult to increase the contributors.(IHT/Asahi: November 9,2006)

The Asahi Shimbun