Seeking to keep Japan Atomic Power afloat, the government may want to pair it with TEPCO
TOKYO — An electricity wholesaler’s ongoing struggle for survival is closely tied to the turnaround effort by Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings, or Tepco, and more broadly to Japan’s nuclear energy policy.Japan Atomic Power, with a focus telegraphed by its name, has lost its major source of revenue since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami led to meltdowns at Tepco’s Fukushima Daiichi plant and the suspension of operations at all of the nation’s nuclear plants.
Seeking to bring its Tokai No. 2 power station in Ibaraki Prefecture back online, the company has applied for approval to extend the facility’s life by 20 years beyond the 40-year limit set by the government.
But a restart poses its own problems for Japan Atomic Power, which needs 180 billion yen ($1.6 billion) or so for such safety measures as building seawalls against tsunamis.
Lacking revenue from electricity wholesaling, the company gets by on an annual 110 billion yen received from utilities as “basic fees.”
As a condition for approving the Tokai extension, the Nuclear Regulation Authority has asked Japan Atomic Power to find guarantors for the massive debt that the company will have to take on for putting the safety measures in place. The regulatory body wants to ensure that Japan Atomic Power “does not end up with half-baked safety measures” stemming from financial woes, according to an NRA official.