The city of Osaka, the largest shareholder of Kansai Electric Power Co., will call on the utility to abolish all of its reactors “at the earliest possible time” during a general shareholders meeting in June.
Kansai Electric is eager to restart its reactors, which have all remained idle following the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant last year. But the city, which controls a 9-percent stake in the utility, said Kansai Electric’s 11 reactors “could ruin shareholder value.” It also said the company should focus its financial resources on renewable energy sources.
The plan for the shareholders meeting was included in draft proposals released on March 18 by a task force jointly established by Osaka city and the Osaka prefectural government, which have been working together on energy strategy.
The task force is expected to decide a proposed schedule for the utility to end its reliance on nuclear power generation at its next meeting on April 1.
Kazuhiro Ueda, a professor of global economy at Kyoto University’s graduate school who heads the task force, said the group will urge other shareholders of the utility to support the proposals.
“Nuclear energy is a technology that humans cannot control,” Ueda told reporters. “We will work out the details to leave no room for ambiguity.”
Osaka city will also urge Kansai Electric to adopt additional measures to “secure the absolute safety” of the reactors and enable them to withstand powerful earthquakes and tsunami.
During campaigning for the mayoral and governor’s elections held on Nov. 27 last year, eventual winners Toru Hashimoto and Ichiro Matsui, respectively, promised to press Kansai Electric to reduce its reliance on nuclear power generation.
Before the Fukushima nuclear disaster started in March last year, about half of Kansai Electric’s power output was generated at its nuclear power plants, the highest ratio for a utility in the nation.
But in the summer last year, then Prime Minister Naoto Kan ordered stress tests for all reactors before they can be restarted.
With all of its reactors offline, Kansai Electric, whose service area includes Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto, has been hit by rising fuel costs to run its thermal power plants.
Kansai Electric and Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s administration have been pushing to restart two of the four reactors at the company’s Oi plant in Fukui Prefecture before the summer, when electricity demand peaks.
The two reactors would be the first to go online since the nuclear accident.
The task force proposed that Kansai Electric operate reactors for minimum output and periods only if a power shortfall is expected this summer and after all other energy-saving measures have been exhausted.
The utility should build gas-generated power plants to ride out a possible energy crisis resulting from the idle reactors in the near future, according to the proposals.
Its proposals also included establishing a permanent method to dispose of spent nuclear fuel.
The city will also call on Kansai Electric to reduce the number of directors, employees and contributions to politicians, as well as disclose the directors’ remunerations.
In addition, Osaka city will advocate a large-scale introduction of renewable energy sources to replace reactors as a midterm and long-term objective.
Utilities in Japan handle both power generation and transmission, allowing them to essentially maintain regional monopolies.
The task force said the transmission of electricity should be handled by a separate company for the Kansai region.
Shigeaki Koga, former senior official at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry who advocates the separation of power generation and transmission by utilities, and Tetsunari Iida, an expert on renewable energy sources, worked as special advisers for the task force in drafting the proposals.
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