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Revise TEPCO's rehabilitation plan?

February 5, 2013

TEPCO turnaround plan faces review as reactor restarts remain elusive




By KENTARO UECHI/ Staff Writer

A government-backed fund set up to help compensate victims of the Fukushima nuclear disaster will review Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s business rehabilitation plan because of expected delays in restarting its key nuclear plant.

“We have no choice but to review the plan at an appropriate time,” Yoshiharu Kawabata, who chairs the steering committee of the Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund, said Feb. 4.

TEPCO’s rehabilitation plan is based on the assumption that the utility will post a profit in fiscal 2013 after seven reactors at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture are restarted in succession from April.

Utilities need to obtain approval from the Nuclear Regulation Authority to restart idled reactors. But the new nuclear industry watchdog will not begin screening applications until it introduces new safety standards for nuclear plants by July.

The standards are expected to require utilities to install filtered venting equipment at boiling water reactors, such as those used at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant.

There is also a possibility that the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at the plant will have to be decommissioned if the NRA concludes that an active fault line runs beneath them.

TEPCO, however, appears reluctant to revise its rehabilitation plan.

“We will review the plan if necessary, but we want to keep it as is (for the time being),” President Naomi Hirose said Feb. 4.

TEPCO said it expects a net loss of 120 billion yen ($1.3 billion) for the year through March, compared with a previous forecast of a 45-billion-yen net loss, as the weaker yen increased fuel costs for thermal power plants.

Compensation for nuclear disaster victims and costs for decontaminating areas around the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant are also expected to increase.

“We remain in a severe condition,” Hirose said. “We have to continue to streamline our operations.”

For the nine months through December, TEPCO reported a net loss of 2.2 billion yen on sales of 4.33 trillion yen, up 14 percent from a year earlier.

The net loss shrank from 623 billion yen during the same period the previous year because extraordinary losses for compensation and other issues substantially fell, from 2 trillion yen to 653 billion yen.

TEPCO raised electricity rates for corporate users by 14.9 percent on average in April and those for households by 8.46 percent in September. The rate hikes increased sales by 227 billion yen.

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