Consumers ultimately footed bill

Utilities gave nuclear plant hosts billions

Kyodo

Electric utilities, their subsidiaries and related organizations provided at least ¥28.7 billion to local governments, mostly as donations, during the five years through March 31, local government sources and data obtained by Kyodo News revealed.

The electric power companies incorporated most of the expenses into their electricity charges for consumers and business clients as necessary costs for power generation.

Such donations are not required to be made public and may amount to more than the latest finding revealed Tuesday, experts said.

The central government has recently hammered out a plan to ban power utilities from incorporating their donations in electricity charges.

The donations were given to prefectural governments, prefectural capitals and 60 governments of municipalities that host nuclear power plants or are located near such plants.

Among the around 650 cases of donations uncovered, more than ¥100 million was provided to local governments in 35 cases, 30 of which involved municipalities that host nuclear plants or are located near them. Besides locations with power plants, Kansai Electric Power Co. donated ¥250 million to the Osaka Municipal Government to help finance a face-lift for a municipal science museum.

The biggest single amount given was about ¥5 billion that Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the troubled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, provided in 2007 to the city of Kashiwazaki in Niigata Prefecture to help build and maintain Yume no Mori Park, facing the Sea of Japan.

Kashiwazaki and the neighboring village of Kariwa in the same prefecture are home to Tepco’s seven-reactor Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant, the world’s largest atomic plant, with a combined output capacity of 8.2 million kw.

Tepco also gave about ¥4 billion worth of cash and land lots to Kariwa.

The Fukui Prefectural Government accepted ¥1.33 billion in funds to build a railway directly linking Tsuruga Station in the prefecture with the cities of Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe.

Fukui Prefecture hosts the largest number of nuclear reactors in Japan.

The donations are believed to have been provided by Kansai Electric and Japan Atomic Power Co. The Fukui Prefectural Government has refused to identify the donors, noting they do not wish to be identified.

Kepco operates three nuclear power plants and Japan Atomic Power one in Fukui Prefecture.

The Gifu Prefectural Government accepted about ¥1.89 billion in 2008 from Chubu Electric Power Co. under an agreement with the Nagoya-based utility to finance a road construction project near a hydroelectric power plant.

The agreement was made after the utility withdrew from the power plant’s construction.

The Shizuoka Prefectural Government accepted around ¥1.63 billion from Chubu Electric in the three years through March after the local government could not receive state subsidies for two of five reactors at the Hamaoka nuclear plant in the city of Omaezaki, Shizuoka Prefecture. The two reactors ceased operation in 2009.