Upstart Energy Provider Ennet Takes on Japan’s Utilities

A rebellious energy company is challenging TEPCO and the other utilities

6 min read
Upstart Energy Provider Ennet Takes on Japan’s Utilities

15 May 2012—From his airy offices on the 19th floor of a tower in downtown Tokyo, Hiroaki Ikebe can see the headquarters of the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) in the distance. It’s a little like David having an excellent view of Goliath’s house. Ikebe is president and CEO of Ennet Corp., an upstart energy company that is challenging Japan’s powerful utility companies—of which TEPCO is by far the biggest and most powerful. “We are against the power companies,” says Ikebe, who comes off as a fervent revolutionary despite his finely tailored suit and wire-rimmed glasses. “It is war!”  

Before Japan’s earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdowns last year, Ennet was a small company fighting for the very small piece of the Japanese energy market that was open for competition. But in the wake of the nuclear accident, Japan is having a national conversation about energy, and the government is considering a new wave of deregulation that could give Ennet and other independent companies like it a much bigger share of the market. For the moment, uncertainty reigns, and it may be years before the government takes action. But this state of flux doesn’t bother Ikebe. “I’m happy to put myself in this changing world,” says Ikebe. “I’m surfing on the waves of change.”

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