Tepco submits new business plan to government, seeks more funds
TOKYO Dec 27 (Reuters) - The operator of Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant submitted a revised business plan to the government on Friday aimed at securing steady profit with the restart of its undamaged Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear plant in July.
Details of the new plan were not disclosed, but it is based on getting more support from the state in the clean-up and compensation after the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.
Under the revised plan, filed by Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) and the state-backed Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund, Tepco expects steady profit over a 10 years, assuming it can restart its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant, the world's largest, next July.
Tepco had previously forecast that the plant, which could save it about $1 billion a month in fuel costs, would come back on line from April this year.
Criticism of the utility's handling of the massive clean-up from the March 2011 quake and tsunami sparked calls to spin off Fukushima-related work and place it under government control or even put Tepco into bankruptcy.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government, however, has instead opted to provide fresh financial support while backing an internal Tepco restructuring due to what experts termed reluctance to face legal responsibility for the disaster or risk ripple effects on the wider power industry.
The government, which essentially nationalised Tepco last year with a 1 trillion yen ($9.55 billion) injection of public funds, decided last week to nearly double to 9 trillion yen the amount of interest-free loans it provides the utility through the state-backed fund.
The government is expected to approve Tepco's revised business plan in January.
On Friday, Tepco also sought additional financial help worth 999.5 billion yen to pay increased compensation from the Fukushima disaster which spewed radiation and forced some 160,000 residents to flee their homes.
In a bid to help revive the utility, the government plans to appoint Fumio Sudo, a former president of Japan's second-biggest steelmaker JFE Holdings Inc, as the next chairman of Tepco and successor to the current chairman Kazuhiko Shimokobe, a government source close to the matter told Reuters. ($1 = 104.7 yen) (Reporting by Yoshifumi Takemoto, Kentaro Hamada, Writing by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Nick Macfie)
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