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21 September, 2016

METI to Discuss Ways to Support TEPCO in Decommissioning Fukushima Daiichi

On September 20, at a press conference held after a cabinet meeting, the head of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), Hiroshige Seko, announced the establishment of a new special committee to discuss management issues at the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO).

The committee, which will consist of representatives from major Japanese economic organizations, will primarily focus on helping TEPCO pay for decommissioning costs at its Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plants, as well as on managerial reform leading to the restructuring of its business. The committee, which will meet for the first time in early October, is expected to complete a draft proposal by yearend.

METI, which is already intending to incorporate ordinary decommissioning costs for nuclear power plants into the “consignment charges” that power producers and suppliers (PPSs) must pay to use the power transmission networks owned by major power utilities, is now also considering expanding that to include TEPCO’s decommissioning costs at the Fukushima Daiichi NPPs.

Chairman Akio Mimura of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) will serve on the committee as a member, while President Naomi Hirose of TEPCO will attend as an observer. METI intends to make a fundamental review of the support system, so it is seeking cooperation from the whole business community.

TEPCO has been virtually nationalized since the March 2011 accident at Fukushima Daiichi. Given that the government will decide whether or not to reduce its involvement at the end of fiscal 2016 (ending March 31, 2017), the committee will finalize its proposal before then.

Costs for decommissioning the Fukushima Daiichi NPPs are now expected to substantially exceed the already estimated JPY2 trillion (USD20 billion at USD1=JPY100). In July, the chairman of TEPCO, Fumio Sudo, met the press and asked for support, saying that decommissioning costs were likely to exceed prior estimates by a very large amount.

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