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Proposed green energy law will mean shake-up of Japanese trading agreements

Japan's electric utilities will be required to buy the output of all wind plant and be subsidised by government for their purchases if a proposed green energy law is passed at the start of next year. The proposal has been drawn up by a parliamentary group of all parties except the Communists. If passed, the law will replace the current support system which requires utilities to buy wind power from developers at a premium rate of ยด11.5/kWh -- but leaves it up to the utilities to issue tenders for new wind capacity. The small size of tenders to date -- the largest at 100 MW -- have been severely criticised. The chairman of the parliamentary group is a former prime minister, Ryutaro Hashimoto, from the conservative LDP party and the secretary is Shuichi Katoh from the Komeito party, which forms part of the LDP coalition government. Until now, forces within the LDP have resisted a wind law, fearing it would obstruct Japan's nuclear policy. But increased public awareness of environmental issues, pressure for more use of wind from local government, and the presence of several big companies -- traditional LDP supporters -- among the ranks of wind developers appears to be exerting a positive influence.

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