5 Décembre 2013
December 3, 2013
Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) and the Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund (NDF) have decided the outline of a comprehensive special business plan under review in which the beleaguered utility is to restart all of the seven reactors at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant by around fiscal 2016 to improve its earnings.
Under the revised business plan, TEPCO, the operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, is also to issue corporate bonds to stabilize its cash flow. If there are prospects for the restoration of the utility's finances and if the NDF makes profits from selling its holdings of TEPCO shares, the fund will consider setting aside such profits to reduce TEPCO's debts. Nevertheless, there is no guarantee that the rehabilitation scenario, including the envisaged early restart of reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant in Niigata Prefecture, will be put into practice as planned.
Under the plan, TEPCO aims to restart the No. 6 and 7 reactors, on which the Nuclear Regulation Authority has been conducting safety assessments, in July 2014. The utility anticipates about 100 billion yen in current account surplus in fiscal 2014 by reducing fuel costs for thermal power generation. While restarting the No. 1 and 5 reactors in the spring of 2015, the utility plans to restart the remaining three reactors by fiscal 2016, when power retailing will be fully liberalized. In doing so, the utility intends to steadily secure current account surplus of 100 billion to 200 billion yen.
By showing banks a path toward its earnings recovery, the utility intends to secure bank loans and to make a comeback to the bond market in fiscal 2016 where it has not been able to issue corporate bonds in the wake of the outbreak of the Fukushima nuclear crisis.
The utility will also consider measures to reduce its debts. The government currently invests 1 trillion yen in the utility through the NDF. The government also extends loans to help the utility pay damages from the nuclear disaster. TEPCO plans to repay the debts over an extended period of time from profits it makes each business year. Under the revised plan, if the NDF makes profits from selling TEPCO shares after prospects emerge that the utility will be able to rehabilitate its finances, it will consider using the profits for the utility's debt repayments.
The NDF and TEPCO want to make clear how the profits on the sale of such shares will be used in an effort to keep the morale of TEPCO employees from deteriorating, but it is hard to foresee when the NDF will actually sell the shares and whether it will be able to make profits.
Therefore, there are skeptics about the plan within the government. There are cases in which the Industrial Revitalization Corporation of Japan, which provided business revitalization assistance to Daiei Group and other ailing firms, returned capital gains to national coffers. Thus, the scheme could face objections from those who argue that TEPCO is receiving preferential treatment.
The utility also intends to beef up its business operations overseas by investing tens of billions of yen in power projects in Southeast Asia, where it has so far refrained from launching new business projects since the outbreak of the nuclear disaster. On the domestic front, the utility plans to make a full-scale entry into the business of supplying gas to factories, among other projects. TEPCO also plans to introduce next-generation "smart meters," which record details of power consumption data, to all of the 27 million households in its service areas. Based on the power consumption data, the utility will produce diversified electric rate structures in an effort to prepare for the complete deregulation of electricity retailing.
TEPCO will carry out further restructuring by shutting down all of its 10 branch offices and accepting voluntary retirement from about 1,000 employees, among other steps. By doing so, it intends to secure public understanding of public funding for measures it is taking to deal with radioactively contaminated water at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and other problems.
Apart from spinning it off into a separate company tasked with decommissioning the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, TEPCO aims to turn itself into a holding company in fiscal 2016. It also plans to build cutting-edge coal-fired thermal power stations in two locations in Fukushima Prefecture as early as fiscal 2020 and start using the "J-Village" facility near the crippled nuclear plant, which has been used as a base for dealing with the nuclear disaster, as a soccer training center again by around 2018.
The new business plan will be submitted to the minister of economy, trade and industry at the end of this year, and the government is to approve it as early as the beginning of next year.
December 03, 2013(Mainichi Japan)