NAGOYA, Nov. 26 (Kyodo) — Chubu Electric Power Co. on Tuesday unveiled a plan to complete introducing next-generation electricity meters to all households in the utility's service area some two years and three months ahead of its original schedule.

Akihisa Mizuno, president of the Nagoya-based utility, said the company could slash costs for fiscal 2016 by 700 million yen once installation of the devices to communicate power consumption data at some 8.8 million households and small shops in central Japan is completed by the end of March 2023.

"We will utilize procurement through bidding and other means from now on and work hard to reduce the cost of the introduction as much as possible," Mizuno said.

Smart meters record power consumption data and communicate the data to utilities for monitoring and billing purposes, subsequently allowing the power companies to save on personnel costs for meter reading.

Chubu Electric is among the many utilities in Japan facing difficulties in restarting operation of nuclear power plants after the nuclear crisis at Fukushima Daiichi power plant in March 2011.

Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has recently attracted public attention as a vocal opponent of nuclear power, highlighting the difficulties in selecting a nuclear waste disposal site.

Regarding the matter, Mizuno said, "Nuclear power is important for Japan and must be used to a certain degree."

"It is my understanding that geological disposal (of nuclear waste) is technically possible. While selection of a site has not made progress, we will continue to work so we can gain people's understanding," he said.

Mizuno reiterated his company's plan to file for a state safety assessment of the No. 4 reactor at the Hamaoka nuclear plant in Shizuoka Prefecture by the end of the current fiscal year through March with a view to restarting it.