Utility seeks support toward Hamaoka restart


Chubu Electric Power Co. President Akihisa Mizuno is calling on the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry for a financial break after the government ordered the utility to halt operations at its Hamaoka nuclear power plant for safety reasons.

In a request handed Monday to METI chief Banri Kaieda, Chubu Electric said it wants the government to explain to credit rating agencies and financial institutions that Hamaoka will be suspended for a “limited period” and sought the utility’s exemption from the petroleum and coal tax while the plant is suspended.

Chubu Electric also wants the government to delay seeking contributions from the utility for a planned government-backed entity to financially assist Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s massive compensation payouts over the Fukushima crisis, Mizuno said.

Based on what METI calls the idea of mutual help, the government plans to make electricity firms that own nuclear plants pay annual contributions to the entity.

Mizuno told reporters he made the requests to the central government because the company’s business environment is difficult, touching on the fact that Chubu Electric needs ¥250 billion in additional fuel costs annually for shifting to thermal power generation.

Mizuno said Kaieda told him there may be “difficult aspects” in meeting the requests, but the minister promised he will make every effort.

The Hamaoka plant was shut down in May at the request of Prime Minister Naoto Kan, given that the nuclear power complex, located in the city of Omaezaki, Shizuoka Prefecture, sits on a major active fault zone and faces a possibility of being hit by a powerful earthquake and large tsunami.

Kaieda said earlier that the plant will be safe enough to resume operations if Chubu Electric finishes implementing sufficient preventive steps against major tsunami, including constructing large seawalls. It takes two to three years to complete such measures.

Keidanren-Areva accord


The head of Japan’s largest business lobby and a senior official of Areva SA, France’s nuclear-power equipment provider involved in efforts to stabilize the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear complex, agreed Monday on the need to enhance safety at atomic plants.

During a meeting in Paris with Hiromasa Yonekura, who chairs the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren), Areva Senior Executive Vice President Dominique Mockly promised full cooperation in bringing the crisis to an end, noting that transparency and information disclosure are key to restoring public trust in nuclear plants, according to Keidanren officials.