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Expensive safety measures

August 12, 2015


Power plant operators to invest ¥3 trillion on safety measures




Eleven nuclear power plant operators plan to invest a total of ¥3 trillion on a variety of safety measures, informed sources said Tuesday.

The safety measures include installing breakwaters and ensuring emergency power sources are available. In addition, the companies are required to implement anti-terrorism measures by July 2018.

Costs for safety measures are likely to increase further, but such investment will be inevitable for companies eager to win regulatory approval for reactor restarts.

Between them, the 11 companies have applied for regulatory approval for 25 restarts. So far, five of the units have obtained approval, including the No. 1 reactor at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai nuclear plant in Kagoshima Prefecture, which went back online on Tuesday.

Tohoku Electric Power Co.’s costs for safety measures will increase to over ¥300 billion from the originally estimated ¥182 billion due to additional construction work, including burying emergency fuel tanks to protect them from high wind.

Kansai Electric Power Co.’s spending will balloon to ¥490 billion from less than ¥300 billion because of anti-terrorism work.

Current plans in place at Chubu Electric Power Co. and Kyushu Electric do not include costs for anti-terrorism work, estimated at some tens of billions of yen.

The companies expect to reduce costs by firing up nuclear reactors as it would reduce the need to buy fuel for thermal power plants.

Kyushu Electric expects a monthly improvement of ¥7.5 billion in its balance sheet per reactor with the restart of the Sendai nuclear plant. The company aims to restart the plant’s No. 2 reactor in mid-October.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. projects that the restart of its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture will improve its balance sheet by over ¥8 billion per month.

If the reactors are not restarted, the companies will be forced to cut costs further.

A long-term suspension of nuclear reactors will force power firms that have never carried out large-scale rate hikes after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami to consider rate increases, said Yukihiro Takabayashi, managing executive officer of Hokuriku Electric Power Co.




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