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TEPCO shareholders oppose restart of Tokai plant: Money can be put to better use

July 13, 2018



Shareholders seek injunction on TEPCO funds for Tokai plant





Three shareholders of Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. (TEPCO) filed a temporary injunction request on July 12 with the Tokyo District Court to stop the utility from providing financial support for the resumption of the Tokai No. 2 nuclear plant.


The plaintiffs argued that the interests of TEPCO and its shareholders would be violated if support was provided to Japan Atomic Power Co. with little likelihood of collecting a return from that venture.


The Nuclear Regulation Authority on July 4 gave the green light regarding safety measures submitted by Japan Atomic Power for the restart of its plant in Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, northeast of Tokyo.


However, since the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, Japan Atomic Power has not operated any of its nuclear plants, and it had sought financial support in the form of loan guarantees from TEPCO and Tohoku Electric Power Co.


That support is essential to procuring the 174 billion yen ($1.5 billion) for Japan Atomic Power to implement needed safety measures for the Tokai No. 2 plant.


The TEPCO shareholders in their request pointed out that the Tokai No. 2 plant would reach the end of its 40-year life span in November. They said that even if the operational life was extended for 20 years, it would be difficult for TEPCO to recover the funds it would, in effect, put up because years would be required to complete the safety measures before any operation could be resumed.


They claim that any financial support would go against provisions in the Companies Law that call for careful management decisions that do not clash with the interests of shareholders.


A TEPCO official declined to comment as no one had yet seen the court request.


While TEPCO itself has had to depend on financial support from the government to deal with the aftermath of the 2011 triple meltdown at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, company President Tomoaki Kobayakawa explained that the electricity it would receive from the Tokai No. 2 plant would allow for stable and inexpensive electricity to be provided to its customers.


But not only will a huge amount have to be spent for safety measures at the Tokai No. 2 plant, but Japan Atomic Power will also have to obtain the approval of municipal governments in the vicinity of the plant.


Even with such hurdles, TEPCO, in effect, was forced to provide financial support to Japan Atomic Power because if it went bankrupt, the financial conditions of TEPCO and the electric power companies that are the major shareholders would be hurt.


Opposition lawmakers have blasted TEPCO for even considering providing financial support and called on TEPCO to use that money to provide compensation for damages from the Fukushima nuclear accident, to decommission the reactors at the crippled plant and to lower electric rates to its customers.


(This article was compiled from reports by Takuya Kitazawa and Rintaro Sakurai.)

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