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Kansai in too much of a hurry to restart

July 26, 2012


Kansai Electric irks industry minister over nuclear reactor plan



TSURUGA, Japan (Kyodo) -- The president of Kansai Electric Power Co. displeased the energy minister Wednesday by expressing an intention to reactivate more nuclear power reactors following the recent restart of two reactors without sufficient coordination with the state government.

Kansai Electric Power President Makoto Yagi said the utility serving western Japan wants to see two reactors at its Takahama nuclear power station restarted now that two reactors at its Oi complex, both on the Sea of Japan coast in Fukui Prefecture, have gone into full operation.

But Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yukio Edano, whose portfolio includes the electricity industry, said of Yagi's comments, "They are very unpleasant remarks."

Edano also said none of the reactors will be reactivated before their safety is thoroughly checked, urging utilities to await a judgment by a new nuclear regulation authority the government is trying to launch in September.

Yagi told reporters in the town of Oi, "We think Takahama's Nos. 3 and 4 reactors are the most promising."

"We intend to make adjustments with the state toward giving priority to their reactivation," he said, referring to the four-reactor plant in the town of Takahama.

Yagi said nuclear power is important in terms of energy security, climate change response and the economy, while expressing readiness to continue putting efforts into safe operations.

The Oi plant's No. 4 reactor started full-capacity power generation early Wednesday to help supply electricity to the Kansai region, being only the second reactor to do so following the plant's No. 3 reactor after all of Japan's 50 commercial reactors went offline by early May in the wake of the March 2011 nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi plant.

The judgment on whether to restart any of the remaining 48 reactors will rest with a nuclear regulation authority slated to be launched in September. But with exact procedures for their possible restart yet to be worked out, it remains uncertain when or if any of them will get go online again.

Senior Vice Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Seishu Makino, who oversaw the restart at the Oi plant to help ease safety concerns, expressed a sigh of relief at the start of full-capacity generation at both reactors, saying, "I feel relieved to be able to provide electricity to the Kansai region in a stable manner."

Beginning Thursday, the government will remove power-saving targets for three other utilities' service areas neighboring Kansai Electric's, and ease the 7 percent target set for Shikoku Electric Power Co.'s area to 5 percent. But it will retain the electricity-saving target of 10 percent for Kansai Electric's service area.





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