The election of an "anti-nuclear novice" in the Niigata gubernatorial race has worried TEPCO investors. Here is background on the election:
Anti-nuclear novice wins Niigata election, blow to nuclear restarts October 17, 2016 at 08:15 JST REUTERS http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201610170009.htmlIt is interesting that the new governor Ryuichi Yoneyama, 49, is a doctor-lawyer.
A doctor well-versed in the history of radiation research in Japan is well positioned to appreciate the public health significance of Japan's aging reactors in a context of heightened geological activity.
The market, however, is not pleased with the election results' implications for TEPCO's future viability. Although the company has been bailed out multiple times by the Japanese government, it remains deeply financially troubled as decommissioning costs are endless. TEPCO was counting on re-starting reactors in Niigata, but now that prospect is less likely:
Tsuyoshi Inajima and Emi Urabe (Bloomberg). 2016. Japanese anti-nuclear candidate's victory punishes Tepco shares. Chicago Tribune, http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-wp-blm-tepco-de93401c-9487-11e6-9cae-2a3574e296a6-20161017-story.htmlRe-starting reactors may make short-term financial sense but it makes no sense from either a long-term financial and public health perspective.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings fell the most since June after the election victory of a gubernatorial candidate opposed to the restart of the utility's Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear plant, the world's biggest by capacity…. Tepco's president, Naomi Hirose, earlier this month highlighted the utility's financial vulnerability, saying it may face insolvency if it had to recognize at one time the cost of decommissioning Fukushima. Resumption of just one of Kashiwazaki Kariwa's reactors would boost the utility's profit by about 10 billion yen ($96 million) a month, the company has said. "Senior management at Tepco have made it clear that restarting the Kashiwazaki reactors is fundamentally important to restoring their finances," Tom O'Sullivan, founder of Tokyo-based consultant Mathyos, said by e-mail. "There now has to be significant uncertainty over restarting those reactors."
Nuclear utilities want to protect their short term profitability and sunk infrastructural costs even when reactors pose the potential for catastrophic accidents, especially as they age.
Short-term decision-making organized around profitability should not compromise our future. But it is....
Let us hope that the LDP follows Germany's lead and responds to public opinion by phasing out nuclear power.
The Asahi Shimbun reports that 57% percent of the Japanese population polled in their survey opposed re-starting nuclear reactors: http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201610180076.html
Energy policy and financial expenditures by states should be organized around finding and supporting sustainable energy solutions!