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Tepco reports ¥685 billion net loss for 2012 as redress claims take toll

Kyodo

Tokyo Electric Power Co. reported a group net loss of ¥685.29 billion for the business year ended in March, its third straight year in the red due to the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

The utility did not release a forecast for this year amid uncertainties over its business conditions, but returning to a profit soon will be difficult under the 10-year restructuring plan authorized by the government last May.

The operator of the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant lost less money last year after hemorrhaging ¥781.64 billion in the 2011 business year.

“Unless we make efforts with considerable determination, it will be difficult to move into the black,” Tepco President Naomi Hirose told a news conference Tuesday.

On why the utility missed its earlier projection of a group net loss of ¥120 billion, Hirose cited increased expenses related to compensation payments that were booked as an extraordinary loss.

Tepco registered an operating loss of ¥221.99 billion, compared with a loss of ¥272.51 billion the previous year. Group sales increased 11.7 percent to ¥5.98 trillion, partly because the utility raised electricity rates for households and companies last year.

The utility operates seven reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture, but none of them were in service during fiscal 2012 after the facility’s last operational unit was shut down for mandatory routine checks.

Restarting idled reactors is seen as key to helping Tepco move into the black in the year through March 2014 because it will help to reduce costs for expensive fossil fuel imports.

But the Nuclear Regulation Authority is not expected to accept applications for the resumption of any of the nation’s halted reactors until new safety requirements take effect in July.

Hirose said Tepco will make “utmost efforts” to ensure its reactors meet the new safety standards and would swiftly file applications if its reactors are up to scratch.

Of Japan’s 10 regional utilities, eight, including Tepco, posted group net losses for fiscal 2012 amid the prolonged shutdown of nuclear reactors, only two of which have been restarted, at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Oi power station in Fukui Prefecture.