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Regional utilities rebuff anti-nuclear shareholders with reactor restart plans

Kyodo

The regional power utilities told their shareholders at annual meetings Thursday they will try to reactivate their idled nuclear reactors to improve business and rejected all proposals calling for a nuclear phaseout.

The eight regional utilities also faced their stakeholders on the same day that the largest one, Tokyo Electric Power Co., which managed the meltdown-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, held its shareholders’ meeting in Tokyo.

Kyushu Electric Power Co. President Michiaki Uriu said he wanted to reactivate reactor Nos. 1 and 2 at its Sendai nuclear complex in Kagoshima Prefecture. The two units are seen as the closest to passing the new safety tests required to restart.

“We’ll aim for the earliest possible resumption of the reactors,” Uriu said, despite calls to abolish the plant.

Earlier this week, the company gave the new Nuclear Regulation Authority additional documents required to finish safety reviews of the two reactors. The NRA will draw up a draft of the results of its assessments based on the documents, but they are not expected to go back online before this fall.

At the shareholders’ meeting of Kansai Electric Power Co., Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto urged the utility to pull out of nuclear power generation altogether, suggesting that the city might sell off shares the city holds in the utility if it does not lend its ear to the proposal. The city is the utility’s top shareholder, with a stake of about 9 percent.

During the nearly five-hour meeting, Kansai Electric President Makoto Yagi said the utility plans to restart its nuclear reactors once they pass the safety tests and the local municipalities that host give the green light.

Should the company do so, however, Hashimoto may even consider filing a suit to seek an injunction to halt the reactors, according to an attorney for the city.

Meanwhile, the president of Hokkaido Electric Power Co. said electricity prices may need to be raised, noting that the utility has seen business conditions deteriorate with its Tomari nuclear plant idled.

The utility will decide on the matter “in the not-so-distant future,” Katsuhiko Kawai said. The company raised prices last September for the first time in 32 years, as the increased costs of buying fossil fuels for thermal power generation weighed on its earnings.