Tepco business plan, including July reactor restart, gets official OK

by Kazuaki Nagata

Staff Writer

The government approved Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s revised 10-year business plan Wednesday that includes its hope to restart reactors at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture this summer.

Faced with drastic increases in the cost of fuel for thermal power to compensate for its idled nuclear reactors, Tepco management considers the Kashiwazaki restarts key to its financial health.

“We had to set a temporary timeline of when to restart reactors to make the business plan. But we cannot predict anything for sure,” Tepco President Naomi Hirose said.

Restarting one reactor would cut between ¥100 billion to ¥145 billion in operating costs, according to Tepco.

The seven-reactor Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear complex, the world’s largest, at present is shut down.

Tepco hopes to restart reactors 6 and 7 at the complex this summer, while aiming to get units 1 and 5 operational in the second half of fiscal 2014.

If all seven reactors are operating safely by the early 2020s, the utility would save ¥1 trillion in power generation costs.

Tepco applied in September for Nuclear Regulation Authority safety checks on reactors 6 and 7.

The revised business plan stresses “responsibilities” and “competition,” saying that while Tepco will continue to take responsibility for the nuclear disaster at its Fukushima No. 1 plant by compensating victims and contributing to reconstructing the prefecture, it hopes to bolster its competitiveness as a utility.

To help Tepco pay compensation, the government will increase the amount of its bond issues to ¥9 trillion from ¥5 trillion, according to the plan.

Also, as the utility market is expected be more liberalized and competitive, Tepco plans to expand its business, such as selling power outside its main area — the Kanto region — to get out of the regional monopoly business and sell more gas.

Via such expansion, it aims to increase annual sales by ¥770 billion in 10 years.

The utility also plans to cut operating costs by ¥4.8 trillion by fiscal 2022 through measures like joining with other firms to strengthen its bargaining power for purchasing fuel for thermal power.

For instance, it aims to increase annual procurements of liquefied natural gas to 35 million to 40 million tons from 20 million tons at present.

Tepco drafted a 10-year business plan in April 2012, but the utility said it has faced several unexpected factors, including compensation exceeding its expectations and delays in restarting the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa reactors.

In the last business plan, Tepco had hoped some of the reactors could have been restarted last spring.

  • Cornelius

    TEPCO has consistently demonstrated complete incompetence at running a nuclear plant. It is ridiculous to allow them to restart the world’s largest plant.