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4 utilities to form alliance over nuclear crisis management, safety measures

Four power companies -- Kansai Electric Power Co., Kyushu Electric Power Co., Chugoku Electric Power Co. and Shikoku Electric Power Co. -- are set to form an alliance for their nuclear crisis management and safety measures, it has been learned.

    The four utilities are aiming to improve the safety of their nuclear facilities, reduce the costs of taking safety steps and develop new technology by jointly handling work to decommission their nuclear reactors and taking safety measures necessary for restarting their idled reactors. It will be the first time for major domestic power companies to form an alliance for nuclear power-related projects.

    Following the outbreak of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011, the government introduced new regulatory standards to require utilities to adopt stricter safety measures. The cost for utilities to take safety measures for each one of their nuclear reactors is ballooning to about 100 billion yen.

    With the retail electricity market being fully liberalized earlier this month and competition among power suppliers intensifying, the business environment of major power companies is becoming even severer. Therefore, the four utilities will aim to reduce costs of taking safety measures and share expertise by jointly working to deal with issues of common concern, such as decommissioning work. The four utilities intend to jointly develop new technology in the future.

    The four power companies are in the final stage of talks in the direction of forging an alliance pact as early as the end of this month. The four power companies have already decided to decommission a total of five nuclear reactors. They are: Kansai Electric's No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at the Mihama Nuclear Power Plant in Fukui Prefecture; the No. 1 reactor at Shikoku Electric's Ikata Nuclear Power Plant in Ehime Prefecture; the No. 1 reactor at Chugoku Electric's Shimane Nuclear Power Station; and the No. 1 reactor at Kyushu Electric's Genkai Nuclear Power Plant in Saga Prefecture.

    As a first step, the four utilities are likely to start sharing with each other as early as the end of fiscal 2016 the technology and personnel necessary to decommission those five reactors. As for safety measures, the four companies are also expected to share quake-resistant and fire-resistant technologies.

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