• Kyodo

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Tokyo Electric Power Co. on Friday reported its first nine-month profit for the April-December period since the 2011 nuclear crisis at its Fukushima No. 1 complex started, amid continuing cost-cutting efforts and electricity rate hikes.

Tepco posted a group pretax profit of ¥189.22 billion for the nine months, compared with a loss of ¥195.05 billion a year earlier. It also projected a profit for the full business year through March.

Including funds from a state-backed bailout entity for nuclear disaster compensation payments, which are booked as an extraordinary profit, the utility recorded a group net profit of ¥772.90 billion, recovering from a net loss of ¥2.22 billion a year earlier.

Group sales increased 10.8 percent to ¥4.80 trillion as the utility resorted to electricity rate hikes in the face of increasing fuel costs for thermal power generation to make up for the halt of nuclear reactors due to the Fukushima plant disaster.

Costs for imported fuel have continued to weigh on the company due to the yen’s weakness, reaching a record-high ¥2.07 trillion in the April-December period at the parent-company level.

But the utility was able to more than offset such costs by thoroughly cutting personnel expenses and maintenance fees, according to a Tepco official.

Tepco booked an extraordinary loss of ¥39.8 billion as it had to write off the value of nuclear fuel and some equipment of reactors 5 and 6 at the Fukushima No. 1 complex following its recent decision to give up using them for power generation.

The utility would have faced a larger extraordinary loss in the period if the government had not prepared new accounting rules for electric power companies that decide to decommission reactors earlier than planned to prevent their business from deteriorating sharply.

Although reactors 5 and 6 survived the nuclear crisis largely unscathed, it was considered impossible to restart them amid strong local resistance. Tepco is already engaged in efforts to decommission reactors 1 to 4, which suffered critical damage.

For the full year, the utility projected a consolidated net profit of ¥661 billion and a pretax profit of ¥57 billion, after taking account of maintenance and other costs to be incurred at the end of the fiscal year.

The company is trying to turn itself around after receiving a ¥1 trillion capital injection from the state-backed Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund in 2012.

Under a revamped business plan approved by the government earlier this month, Tepco was promised more financial support from the state so that it will not face funding difficulties due to the colossal costs stemming from one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters.

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