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TEPCO "returning to its former arrogant ways"

June 26, 2014

Source : Bloomberg



Tepco Faces Down Protest to Press Ahead With Atomic Restarts

By Jacob Adelman and Emi Urabe Jun 26, 2014 6:58 AM GMT+0200

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501) pledged to restart reactors at the world’s largest atomic plant, rejecting a bid by anti-nuclear shareholders to scrap the units over safety concerns after the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

The company’s annual general meeting voted down motions advanced by Greenpeace and other activist groups holding Tokyo Electric shares to decommission the reactors and to revise the company’s recovery plan to exclude nuclear power.

The vote comes as Tokyo Electric, or Tepco, pursues a turnaround strategy that hinges on cutting fossil fuel costs by resuming two units at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in northwest Japan. Nuclear restarts anywhere in Japan are opposed by 59 percent of those who responded to a poll in March by the Asahi newspaper.

Tepco’s board had recommended shareholders reject the measures, arguing the reactors provide an important source of baseload power without which the company can’t meet customers’ needs.

“We want shareholders to stand on our side, not the irresponsible company’s side,” Greenpeace campaigner Hisayo Takada said at a rally before the meeting, where activists held banners reading “No nuclear restarts!” and Tepco staff blocked entry to protesters in white-hooded protective coveralls and face masks.

Turnaround Plan

The proposals were among 10 motions advanced by the consortium of anti-nuclear groups calling itself the Nuclear Phaseout Tepco Shareholder’s Movement. Others included the appointment of nuclear opponents to Tepco’s board, a halt to the construction of two reactors at the Higashidori plant in northern Japan and the improvement of working conditions at nuclear stations. All were rejected.

Tepco won support from the government and its biggest lenders in January for its plan to recover financially from the Fukushima disaster, which assumes the restart of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa units in Niigata prefecture.

Banks, insurance companies and investment firms own more than 70 percent of Tepco’s shares, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Those majority shareholders would be expected to resist any effort to keep Tepco’s nuclear plants shut, since many have also lent the company money under the expectation of a restart, Tom O’Sullivan, the founder of Tokyo-based energy consultant Mathyos, said before the vote.

Bank Support

“There’s no way those guys are going to be voting for that,” he said. “The bank support is predicated on them restarting Kashiwazaki.”

Japan spent 27.4 trillion yen ($269 billion) on fossil fuels in 2013, up 50 percent from 18.1 trillion yen the year before the Fukushima disaster, according to Trade Ministry data.

About 160,000 people were forced to evacuate because of radiation fallout after the Fukushima accident, leaving Tepco with billions of dollars in compensation and cleanup costs that brought it to the brink of insolvency.

Tepco returned to operating profit last fiscal year, following two years of losses, after raising electricity rates and putting off maintenance at some of its plants


All of Japan’s 48 operable commercial reactors are idled for safety assessments after the accident at the Fukushima plant. Tepco applied for safety checks required for the two restarts at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in September.

Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority said its inspections at the two units would be delayed due to the lack of qualified personnel, the Sankei newspaper reported this month.

Safety Fears

The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa reactors are among seven units that will never be restarted due to local opposition and safety fears, Raymond James & Associates said in a June 19 research note. The governor of Niigata prefecture, who has a say in whether the units can resume, has criticized Tepco’s safety record.

The only reactors likely to start this year are the two units at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai plant in southern Japan, according to Raymond James. The NRA said in March that it would prioritize those units for safety checks.

The consortium of anti-nuclear groups at today’s meeting possessed more than the 300 shares needed to propose motions, according to Tepco’s meeting announcement.

Greenpeace holds the minimum number of shares to vote on proposals, spokeswoman Ai Kashiwagi said. That minimum is 100, Tepco spokeswoman Mayumi Yoshida said. Tepco had an average of 1.6 billion shares of common stock outstanding during the year ended March 31, according to its annual report.

The only item approved was the appointment of Tepco’s 11 directors. Tepco said 2,150 shareholders attended the meeting, which lasted for 3 hours and 23 minutes, at the Tokyo International Forum. Last year’s meeting saw 2,090 attendees.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jacob Adelman in Tokyo at jadelman1@bloomberg.net; Emi Urabe in Tokyo at eurabe@bloomberg.net  




Japan's utilities reject anti-nuclear demands from shareholders




All nine electric power companies that operate nuclear plants rejected shareholders’ proposals to close down the facilities, citing new safety measures and the need to quickly restart their reactors.

It was the first time anti-nuclear proposals were presented to all nine companies at their shareholders’ meetings. Hokuriku Electric Power Co. had until now received no such request.

However, passing such changes requires support representing at least two-thirds of votes from shareholders who took part in the meetings. Large shareholders, such as banks, voted against the proposals.

The utilities all held their annual shareholders’ meetings on June 26.

During Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s meeting in the Marunouchi district of the capital, Yui Kimura, 61, a leading member of the Nuclear Phase-out TEPCO Shareholders Movement, demanded the company appoint three well-known anti-nuclear experts as its directors.

TEPCO is a company that is surviving with taxpayers’ money,” she said. “It is urgent for the firm to choose directors who can push through in-house reforms.”

Kimura also noted that three years have passed since the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

“I suspect that TEPCO is returning to its former arrogant ways,” she said.

The three names she submitted were: Shigeaki Koga, 58, a former industry ministry bureaucrat; Hiroyuki Kawai, 70, a lawyer representing plaintiffs seeking a nuclear-free Japan; and Tetsunari Iida, 55, director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies.

“Those supporting the promotion of nuclear power generation have grown stronger by overcoming objections (to atomic energy) and by improving their systems (for nuclear power generation),” Koga said. “Anti-nuclear people will be unable to counter them unless they present new ideas, such as showing how economic conditions and livelihoods will improve through the promotion of renewable energies.”

TEPCO President Naomi Hirose said at the meeting that the utility is currently preparing to restart idled reactors at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture.

“We are promoting safety measures, such as construction of sea walls,” Hirose said.

Michiaki Uriu, president of Kyushu Electric Power Co., noted progress in the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s safety screening of two offline reactors at the Sendai nuclear power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture.

“We will make the utmost effort to pass the screening to restart the reactors as early as possible,” he said.

Hokkaido Electric Power Co. is facing financial difficulties due to the suspension of operations at its sole nuclear power plant.

“In the not-so-distant future, we will decide to apply for another hike in electricity bills,” said Katsuhiko Kawai, president of Hokkaido Electric.

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