Tepco, Japan Utilities Halt Nuclear Expansion Plans After Reactor Accident

Tokyo Electric Power Co., owner of the crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant, and three other Japanese utilities delayed building new reactors after the country’s worst civil atomic disaster.

Tepco, as Asia’s biggest utility is known, halted work on the No. 1 nuclear reactor at the Higashidori plant and suspended plans to build three other reactors, spokesman Takeo Iwamoto said today. Chubu Electric Power Co., among Japan’s three biggest energy utilities, delayed building a new reactor, while Electric Power Development Co. stopped construction of its Oma nuclear plant, officials at each company said.

The changes follow the magnitude 9-earthquake and ensuing tsunami that caused the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant to lose the power that drives its cooling systems, raising concerns of a potential meltdown. Japanese utilities were building or planning 14 new reactors before the earthquake by 2020, according to plans compiled by the trade ministry.

“More nuclear plans may be delayed or suspended as utilities will likely have to improve plant designs to protect against earthquakes and tsunamis,” said Yuji Nishiyama, a Tokyo-based analyst at Credit Suisse. “Japan needs nuclear power and will find a compromise solution on atomic energy.”

Still, Japan remains committed to nuclear power because it needs non-polluting energy sources, the government’s nuclear safety spokesman said March 23.

Tepco stopped work on the 1,385-megawatt reactor at its Higashidori plant in Aomori, northern Japan. It suspended plans to build another 1,385-megawatt reactor at the same plant and two 1,380-megawatt units at its Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant, Iwamoto said.

Chubu, J-Power Suspend

Chubu Electric delayed the start of construction of the new reactor at its Hamaoka power station in Shizuoka, southwest of Tokyo, for one year to fiscal 2016, spokesman Akio Miyazaki said by phone. “We will analyze the effects of the disaster and take necessary measures,” Miyazaki said.

Electric Power Development, known as J-Power, temporarily halted construction of its Oma nuclear plant in Aomori, said spokesman Junichiro Hoshino. The company doesn’t have a timetable for resuming construction of the plant that is due to start operations in November 2014, he said.

Chugoku Electric Power Co. has halted preliminary construction of the Kaminoseki plant in Yamaguchi, western Japan, after a request by local governments, spokesman Kimitake Yoshida said. The No. 3 reactor under construction at its Shimane plant is on schedule to be operational in March 2012, he said.

Tohoku Electric Power Co. is yet to review plans for two reactors as it is focusing on recovery efforts for plant and equipment damaged by the earthquake, said spokesman Sota Notsu. Kyushu Electric Power Co. will add one reactor at its Sendai plant in Kagoshima, southwestern Japan, and use lessons learned from the Dai-Ichi accident to improve its safety, said spokesman Ryoji Nakamuta.

Japan Atomic Power Co. is also on schedule to start building two reactors at its Tsuruga plant by March 2012, spokesman Mitsuru Marutani said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Tsuyoshi Inajima in Tokyo at tinajima@bloomberg.net; Yuji Okada in Tokyo at yokada6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Amit Prakash in Singapore at aprakash1@bloomberg.net

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