Jodo Shin Hongan-ji Pure Land Denomination’s Buddhist Priests Selling Energy to Support Communities & the Maintenance of Temples
Mainichi Newspaper October 25, 2018
The priests of the Jodo Shin Hongan-ji Pure Land Denomination (based in Kyoto at the Nishi Hongan-ji Temple) held a press conference today in Kyoto to announce the establishment of a retail electricity company called Tera Energy (tera is Japanese for Buddhist temple), which will begin business in April of 2019. The company will sell electricity to temples and temple members regardless of denomination. By re-investing part of their sales as “temple support fees”, they will provide aid for community activities and the maintenance of temple buildings. They will also provide free installation of solar panels with the goal to further prevent global warming.
The company is now in the process of registering with the Shimogyo Ward of Kyoto City as a retail electricity provider. According to Rev. Ryogo Takemoto, a Nishi Hongan-ji priest representing the company, by keeping down advertising costs, they can reduce the cost of energy by 2% compared with larger companies. The electricity will be mostly procured from renewable energy companies, such as Miyama Power HD, a company in Miyama City, Fukuoka Prefecture that supports community energy development. The Climate Network (Kiko-Nettowaku), a non-profit, will also provide support. They also have the aim in the medium-term to develop small-scale hydroelectric power in the wider Sanin region of prefectures along the Japan Sea Coast, such as Shimane, Tottori, and Hyogo. For the time being, Tera Energy is targeting temples and their members in the Shikoku and Chugoku regions of central Japan with the aim of selling energy nationwide by 2020. In their preparatory research of 38 temples in the three prefectures of Hiroshima, Shimane, and Kagawa, 28 temples indicated an interest to switch to buying electricity from Tera Energy.
Rev. Takemoto, who has been working as a representative of the non-profit Kyoto Self-Death and Suicide Counseling Center, is also using part of the sales from the company as “social contribution fee” for supporting these suicide prevention activities. He explains that, “Through Tera Energy, we would like to support temples and communities that have communal property to support society.” With the wider circulation of electricity sales that until recently have been monopolized in every region by large utility companies in Japan, smaller retailers can provide freedom of choice as they gain certification for their new businesses. Since 2000, there has been a progressive shift in the energy market away from large-scale customers to individual households emerging in April 2016.
Reporting by Tatsuya Tamaki & Hajime Nakatsugawa
Translation by Jonathan S. Watts