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Japan watchdog says no ‘improper’ trading as power prices hit record highs

Wednesday, 13 January 2021 | 21:00

Japan’s power market regulator said on Wednesday there was no “improper behaviour” found in trading on the electricity exchange as prices hit record highs with rising demand for heating with frigid temperatures gripping much of the country.

The island country’s benchmark power price hit an all-time high of 232.2 yen ($2.24) per kilowatt hour on Wednesday, according to the Japan Electric Power Exchange website.

“We have not found any improper behaviour in auctions for spot trading, but we will continue to closely watch the activity,” Yoshiaki Kuroda, director of market policy planning at the Electricity and Gas Market Surveillance Commission, told Reuters.

Last week, Kuroda said the commission had stepped up surveillance of the market as prices rose sharply.

Japan’s utilities on Tuesday asked businesses and residential users to save power as electricity generators resorted to using fuel oil, instead of coal, to meet the demand for heating.

Japan’s electricity grid coordinator, known as OCCTO, had also stepped in to avoid power shortages in the Tokyo and Osaka regions.

Frigid weather across north Asia has caught utilities, particularly LNG importers, off guard as the demand for power reduced fuel inventories.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Yuka Obayashi, Writing by Aaron Sheldrick, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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