Incoming Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) chairman Fumio Sudo announced that restarting the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant this July is highly doubtful. As a complete screening for earthquake faults is required by the Nuclear Regulation Authority to re-open the plant which could take months, the former president and adviser of the steel company, JFE Holdings Inc. said that, “a July restart is looking difficult.”
In the proposed business restructuring plan approved by the government in January, TEPCO’s pretax profits for 2014 were forecasted at around 167 billion yen, provided the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant is restarted. But with the delay in restarting the idle reactors imminent, the earnings would be held back and the utility might be forced to transfer the costs to the consumers, increasing electric bills. However, Sudo vowed that TEPCO would do its best to cut costs. “We’ll reduce costs to the bone, and even if there’s an increase, we want to do all we can to hold it down 00 even by a single yen,” he said.
Acknowledging that electricity is expensive in Japan, he said that changes must be made to improve the system. “Japan’s energy costs are roughly triple those of the United States. Unless we make and break alliances, we won’t get anywhere,” said the soon-to-be chairman. Sudo noted that electricity prices hike up because of lack of awareness on the “international competition.” He also knows that the public has lost trust in TEPCO due to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant meltdown in 2011 and the consequent mistakes they’ve made since then. Sudo vows to restore confidence for the “first three years” of his role as chairman of the utility firm by beefing up efforts for compensation of the displaced residents and victims of the nuclear accident and decommissioning the reactors in the crippled plant.
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