Tepco said earlier it will raise electricity rates for corporate customers by around 17% on average beginning in April, its first hike in more than three decades, to address soaring fuel costs following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

The rate increase will be used to help the embattled utility cover the cost of buying more fossil fuels, as many of its nuclear plants remain offline following last year’s devastating earthquake and tsunami.

The minister [of State for Economic and Fiscal Policy Motohisa Furukawa, graduate of prestigious Tokyo University’s Law Faculty] also said the government aims to propose several ideas about a future energy plan by spring. “For the long term, we would think about alternative energy like solar, but in the near term, I think it will be natural gas,” he said. “We have to think about how we will rely less on nuclear power.”

via 2012/02/12 17:18 – Furukawa: Japan Trade Deficit Due To Special Factors, Including Quake.