(Mainichi: February 3, 2015 – p. 2)
Kansai Electric Power Co., Inc., (KEPCO) announced on Feb. 2 that it will apply by the end of March to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for safety inspections at some of its offline nuclear reactors in Fukui Prefecture in accordance with the new safety regulations. KEPCO will apply for inspections of Mihama Nuclear Power Plant’s Reactor No. 3, which has been in operation for 38 years, and Takahama Nuclear Power Plant’s Reactors No. 1 and 2, which have been in operation for 39 to 40 years and are currently being inspected for deterioration. In addition to these reactors, the company will also apply after the spring for inspections of Oi Nuclear Power Plant’s Reactor No. 1 and 2. With this, KEPCO has made it clear that it plans to restart 9 out of its 11 reactors in total, excluding Reactors No. 1 and 2 at Mihama Nuclear Power Plant.
The Nuclear Reactor Regulation Law stipulates that nuclear reactors can only be in operation for 40 years, in principle. However, with the approval of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, extensions of up to 20 years extension may be authorized. In order to extend the operational period for Reactor No. 3 of the Mihama nuclear plant and Reactors No. 1 and 2 of the Takahama nuclear plant, which have been in operation for nearly 40 years, KEPCO is required to apply for safety inspections required for the resumption of operations and special inspections for the extension of opearations.
On account of the prolonged suspension of the nuclear reactors, KEPCO is expected to report a deficit of 161 billion yen for period ending in March 2015, which represents a consolidated net loss for the fourth year in a row. At the end of last year, KEPCO applied for an additional increase in electricity rates effective this spring. However, in order to drastically improve the imbalance between income and expenditure, KEPCO has decided to restart its nuclear reactors and has expedited the process for their resumption. By improving the imbalance, the company expects to be able to lower electricity after the reactors are restarted.
KEPCO will make a final decision by the end of March on Mihama’s Reactors No. 1 and 2, which have been in operation for over 40 years, but they are likely to be decommissioned.