Japan’s nuclear-reliant utility asked by officials to promote alternative energy and phase out nuclear reactors

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The mayors of Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto, home to a total of 5.7 million people, called for Kansai Electric Power Co,   the Japanese utility that relies the most on nuclear generation, with all its atomic power plants offline. to promote efforts to switch to alternative energy supplies and price incentives to curb demand.

Kansai Electric is currently working to restart at least two reactors, which are currently all offline, after the units “passed” stress tests – computer simulations evaluating reactions to severe events.  Kansai Electric Power Co said Monday it expected to log its largest-ever net loss of over 3 billion dollars for the current financial year through March, after a net profit of 123.1 billion yen for the previous year.

The utility also predicted an operating loss of 245 billion yen, a reversal from an operating profit of 273.8 billion yen the year before.  In 2011, Kansai’s reports showed that nuclear power accounted for 44 percent of demand in Kansai’s base in western Japan, but the Kansai President Makoto Yagi denied any rumor the company will change its basic pricing system to raise charges even though the firm booked a record net loss for April-December last year.

Observers say it will not be easy for central and local governments to arrive at an agreement on reactivating the Kansai reactors.

“In light of the March 11 incident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant…should a critical incident hit Kansai Electric Power Co’s region…it is clear that citizens’ lives and economic activities would be greatly affected,” the mayors said in their submission to Kansai Electric’s president, Makoto Yagi.

“We should therefore create a power supply system not dependent on nuclear power as early as possible.”

The mayors’ move could prompt other shareholders to follow suit.

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