Tohoku Electric, Tepco in nuclear compensation talks

Kyodo

Tohoku Electric Power Co. has started talks to seek compensation from Tokyo Electric Power Co., manager of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 plant, over losses from dropping electricity sales in Fukushima Prefecture, sources said Wednesday.

Tohoku Electric saw the amount of electricity sold in Fukushima drop by up to nearly 30 percent in a single month after the March 2011 disasters triggered the nuclear crisis that forced residents from their homes. The amount sold has yet to recover.

The move comes as the utility grapples with seriously deteriorating business conditions from the quake and tsunami. The disasters damaged its power generation facilities and caused its nuclear reactors to be suspended.

The company plans to work out the details of the damages it will seek based on state compensation guidelines and other issues, but it is likely to take considerable time for them to reach a settlement.

The claims could include compensation for the past investment in a nuclear power plant that Tohoku Electric planned to build in Fukushima. The utility said in March it had abandoned the plan.

On Tuesday, Tohoku Electric said it had agreed with its labor union that bonuses will not be paid this summer, given its current state of affairs.

The move is also part of a streamlining process associated with the utility’s request that the government OK a raise in household electricity rates.

The decision will be the first time Tohoku Electric hasn’t paid bonuses since its establishment in 1951. The firm will discuss with its labor union how to handle winter bonuses, officials said.

In February, Tohoku Electric sought government approval to raise household power rates by an average of 11.41 percent from July 1 in the face its poor business conditions and presented a plan to reduce personnel costs.

But a trade ministry panel reviewing Tohoku Electric’s rate-increase application has noted that the company’s pay standard still remains high.

Kansai Electric Power Co. and Kyushu Electric Power Co., both of which have gained government approval to raise household electricity rates from May 1, have also decided not to give their employees summer bonuses.

Shikoku Electric Power Co., which also applied to raise power rates and is undergoing government review, has agreed with its labor union to halve summer bonuses this year.