Japan Atomic Power Co. to Focus on Decommissioning

Japan Atomic Power Co. to Focus on DecommissioningJapan Atomic Power Co. to Focus on Decommissioning

Japan Atomic Power Company is considering splitting itself into two units, seeking to restructure its business to focus on the decommissioning of nuclear reactors on behalf of regional utilities, Reuters reported on Saturday.

The plan appears to reflect the government's intention to reorganize Japan's nuclear power businesses, which have effectively come to a halt since the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

Unlisted Japan Atomic Power, owned mostly by Japanese power companies, including Fukushima reactor operator Tokyo Electric Power Co, currently generates no electricity. All three of its reactors are offline. It has managed to stay in business by receiving more than 100 billion yen ($851 million) a year from the five regional utilities with which it has supply contracts.

However, with no prospect of restarting its reactors, the sponsor utilities have asked Japan Atomic Power to draw up a restructuring plan that creates a new revenue source. Japan Atomic Power is the only company in the country that operates both boiling-water and pressurized-water reactors, so it plans to realign human and technical resources according to reactor type.

Leading shareholder Tepco proposed the plan, with second-largest stakeholder Kansai Electric Power seen agreeing with it. The Industry Ministry is also looking to streamline the operation of Japan's 48 nuclear reactors, each now owned and run separately by Japan's regional power companies and Japan Atomic Power.

All of the nuclear reactors were gradually taken offline after meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi plant after an earthquake and tsunami in 2011. As many as two-thirds may never return to operation because of high costs, local opposition or seismic risks.

Japanese power companies, already battered by headwinds on their nuclear business, are expected to face tougher competition as the government plans to liberalize the power market for homes by 2016.