Saturday, May 7, 2011

Kyodo news: Decision to suspend Hamaoka power plant delayed Chubu Electric mulling impact


 NAGOYA — Chubu Electric Power Co. held an inconclusive board meeting Saturday over whether to suspend the Hamaoka nuclear power plant in Shizuoka Prefecture, as requested by Prime Minister Naoto Kan, participants said.


                                                                                                                          KYODO PHOTO
 Next nuclear crisis?: This photo taken Saturday shows the five reactors at the Hamaoka nuclear power plant run by Chubu Electric Power Co. on the coast of Omaezaki, Shizuoka Prefecture.


 The utility serving central Japan, including Nagoya, was to continue its discussions Sunday or later, they said.
 Saturday's meeting was believed to have centered on the potential impact that a closure would have on Chubu Electric's bottom line and how to maintain stable energy supply without its only nuclear power plant.
 Chubu Electric produces an estimated maximum output of 30.89 million kilowatts. Hamaoka, situated in the city of Omaezaki, southwest of Mount Fuji, accounts for about 11.7 percent of that.
 Suspending the coastal facility would cause a projected loss of about 3.6 million kilowatts.
 Peak demand this summer is meanwhile expected to hit 27.09 million kilowatts, according to the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.
 The Nagoya-based power company will likely study alternative sources, such as thermal power plants and procuring electricity from other utilities, company sources said.
 At a hastily arranged news conference Friday evening, Kan said all operations at the Hamaoka plant must be suspended due to widespread concerns that a powerful earthquake could hit the area and trigger another serious crisis like the one at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 facility.
 Chubu Electric President Akihisa Mizuno said in a statement late Friday that the utility will "swiftly consider" the prime minister's request.
 "A business judgment at the highest level is required," a Chubu electric official said Saturday morning. "It is important that we make a decision swiftly and notify society of it."
 But since Kan has admitted the request is not legally binding, some people in Chubu Electric remain reluctant to immediately comply, sources said.
 In the summer, energy demand, chiefly for air conditioning, climbs 800,000 kilowatts for each 1-degree rise in the temperature, the utility says.
 Meeting the demand with thermal power generation would only cost an additional ¥700 million per day, or about ¥250 billion per annum, according to the firm.
 Omaezaki Mayor Shigeo Ishihara complained Saturday about Kan's request.
 "It will have a large impact on (local) employment. I wanted him to listen more to local opinions," Ishihara said.
 Ishihara said the municipal assembly is united in seeking enhanced safety steps while keeping the plant running.
 The request is not intended to halt the nation's entire nuclear program and was made after confirming that it wouldn't damage the Chubu region's economy, Goshi Hosono, one of Kan's aides from the Democratic Party of Japan, said on a TV talk show Saturday.

©japantimes.co.jp




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