OSAKA--A local government panel has drafted specific demands for Kansai Electric Power Co. to abolish all nuclear power plants, setting up a showdown at the company’s shareholders meeting in June.
The energy strategy council, under the Osaka municipal and prefectural governments, said April 1 that Osaka city, the top shareholder of Kansai Electric, should propose that the company amend its articles of incorporation to specify a policy that ends dependence on nuclear power and secures transparency of management.
Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, who attended the council’s meeting, endorsed its proposals in principle.
“The proposals have helped me work out my standpoint and convince myself,” he said.
Kansai Electric has vehemently opposed Hashimoto’s call for abolishing all nuclear power plants.
“Can we supply electricity (on a stable basis) if we do not use nuclear power at all?” Kansai Electric President Makoto Yagi said at a news conference on March 23. “We need to face up to the reality in discussing the issue.”
Kansai Electric is bullish because although Osaka city is the largest shareholder, it owns only 9 percent of the utility. Approval of at least two-thirds of shareholders is required for amending the articles of incorporation.
The energy strategy council’s draft proposals said Kansai Electric can restart nuclear power plants only after “absolute safety” is secured and that the company should abolish all nuclear power plants “as soon as possible.”
The proposals also said Kansai Electric should aggressively pursue renewable energy and natural gas.
As for measures to improve management transparency, the council said the number of directors should be reduced to a maximum of 10, down from 20 under the current articles of incorporation.
It also called for disclosure of remunerations for individual directors and banning the practice of accepting retired bureaucrats from the central government.
The draft proposals said Kansai Electric should sell either the power generation division or the power transmission division as a way to separate the two operations.
The energy strategy council also decided that the Osaka municipal and prefectural governments will call for eight conditions to be met before Kansai Electric restarts the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors of its Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture.
A key condition is for the company to conclude safety agreements with local governments within a 100-kilometer radius of the plant.
Another condition is reviewing the standards for stress tests to determine whether nuclear reactors can withstand earthquakes or tsunami, which are conditions for restarting reactors shut down for regular maintenance.
“As things stand now, I am against (restarting the Oi reactors),” Hashimoto said. “It is absolutely impossible.”
Kansai Electric is eager to put the two reactors back online by summer, forecasting a 13.9-percent power shortage if all its reactors remain shut down. The government also plans to approve the restarts at an early date.
But Hashimoto’s opposition is expected to raise the bar.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura has said the intentions of Osaka city will be one of the factors taken into consideration when the government makes its final decision.
“Kansai Electric can secure enough electricity if frameworks are established to shave peak demand,” Hashimoto said. “The company will be able to make its first step toward changing the power supply system if it is prepared to introduce rolling blackouts as the last resort.”
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