Major power companies earn around 70 percent of their profits from households, although such users consume only about 40 percent of power output, according to the industry ministry.
It said the discrepancy is because utilities charge higher rates to households than they do to businesses.
The industry ministry looked into 10 power companies' energy volume of sales, as well as sales and profits from fiscal 2006 to 2010.
In terms of the five-year average, home use accounted for 38 percent of total sales volume, while businesses, including factories, made up 62 percent.
For sales, the rate for households was 49 percent, or 7.2 trillion yen ($90 billion). For businesses, the rate was 51 percent, or 7.56 trillion yen.
The utilities made 69 percent, or 430 billion yen, of their profits from households, and 31 percent, or 200 billion yen, from businesses.
Tokyo Electric Power Co., in particular, relied on households for 91 percent of its profits. That was because already low margins for businesses became ever narrower due to higher costs of natural gas and other fuels for thermal power generation after a nuclear plant went offline following a strong earthquake in Niigata Prefecture in 2007.
Okinawa Electric Power Co. raised 90 percent of its profits from households because of its relatively higher sales volume for them. Other high profit rates from households were 65 percent for Kansai Electric Power Co. and 59 percent for Chubu Electric Power Co. and Kyushu Electric Power Co.
Power rates for home use are determined by adding a certain profit on top of power generation costs.
Each utility enjoys a regional monopoly, resulting in no price competition. Taking advantage of this, power companies use sales for households as a basis to make stable profits.
Power supply to businesses has already been liberalized, and rates are decided through negotiations between each business and power company. Narrowing margins, the major utilities offer lower rates to businesses to fend off competition from newcomer power companies.
With TEPCO planning to raise consumer power rates this summer to help offset costs from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the new findings are expected to prompt calls for lower rates for households.
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