Tokyo Electric Power Co. will be hard-pressed to post a profit in fiscal 2013 if it is unable to restart some of its nuclear reactors in the months ahead, TEPCO President Naomi Hirose said.
TEPCO, operator of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, released a new management policy on Nov. 7 that said expenses to deal with the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, including decontamination and compensation for those affected, could total more than 10 trillion yen ($126 billion), and asked for additional government assistance.
"I want to see a start of discussions," Hirose, 59, told The Asahi Shimbun on Nov. 9.
Hirose's sense of urgency stems from the fact that TEPCO's reconstruction program, drawn up in May, has ground to a halt.
The program said TEPCO should post a net profit in fiscal 2013.
"Achieving that goal is our responsibility," Hirose said, acknowledging that returning to a black ink figure is a prerequisite for receiving more loans from financial institutions.
The premise for posting a profit is that idle nuclear reactors will be restarted.
The program calls for successive restarts, from April 2013, of the seven reactors of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture. TEPCO estimates each restart would improve its bottom line by 78 billion yen annually.
But the government's Nuclear Regulation Authority, which is responsible for screening the suitability of restarts, plans to set up new safety screening standards in July 2013. That is almost certain to delay the timing of restarts, probably by a wide margin.
The Fukushima disaster has created deep-rooted public opposition to TEPCO restarting nuclear reactors elsewhere.
Hirose emphasized that the utility will seek to restart the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa reactors.
"The question is not just about whether to restart them," he said. "It's also about how long the restarts will be delayed."
TEPCO will cope with minor delays by cutting costs further, Hirose said.
Meantime, TEPCO's decontamination and other expenses have continued ballooning. The total expenses to deal with the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster will likely top the 5 trillion yen credit line for government loans that are extended by way of the Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund, Hirose said.
The government remains wary about offering additional assistance.
(This article was written by Kentaro Uechi and Hiroshi Takata.)
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