* Gist of revised business plan announced
* Wants to merge its fossil fuel plants with Chubu Elec's
(Adds details of Tepco's plan)
TOKYO, March 22 Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco)
plans to seek the cooperation of domestic nuclear
operators to improve the safety of its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa
nuclear plant in an attempt to restart it and help meet the
costs of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
The move comes after Japan's government in December nearly
doubled its projections for costs related to the Fukushima
disaster to 21.5 trillion yen ($192 billion).
Tepco's portion of the burden has more than doubled to 15.9
trillion yen, and it has become imperative for Tepco to boost
its earnings to allocate 500 billion yen ($4.5 billion) in
annual profits in coming decades to pay for decommissioning and
In the world's worst nuclear calamity since Chernobyl in
1986, three reactors at Tepco's Fukushima plant melted down
after a magnitude 9 earthquake and tsunami struck Japan in March
2011, killing more than 15,000 people.
Many of Japan's reactors are still going through a
relicensing process by a new regulator set up after the
Shutting the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in western Japan for
additional years would mean that the company would have to
continue relying heavily on costlier power generation through
fossil fuels such as natural gas.
But restarting the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant is not seen as
easy. The governor of Japan's Niigata prefecture reiterated his
opposition to the restart of the plant, adding it may take a few
years to review the pre-conditions for restart.
Under a revised business plan outlined on Wednesday, Tepco
also aims to set up a consortium with domestic peers on nuclear
business to tackle common issues such as improving nuclear
safety, in line with recommendations by the trade ministry's
committee on Tepco reform. Tepco and a government body that owns
the majority of its shares announced the gist of the plans.
Tepco also aims to combine its domestic fossil fuel plants
with those of Chubu Electric Power Co under their joint
fuel venture JERA Co.
Tepco and Chubu Electric plan to make a final decision on
whether to merge their fossil fuel plants by around May, but
Chubu Electric President Satoru Katsuno said on Friday it would
look at the main points of Tepco's new business plan to
determine whether to go ahead with the final step for JERA.
($1 = 111.7000 yen)
(Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Kim Coghill and