POWER UTILITY | Cesar Tordesillas, Japan

Tepco says it has no money for renewable energy

Tepco president Naomi Hirose said the utility can't afford to invest in alternative energy sources since the three reactor meltodown at its Fukushima nuclear power plant last year.

It had attempted diversification of its energy mix before the March 11, 2011, earthquake-tsunami and built three mega-solar power plants and more than a dozen windmills nationwide with its affiliate, Eurus Energy Holdings Corp.

But Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s difficult financial picture because of the nuclear crisis means it doesn't have the money to invest in renewable energy, Hirose told AP at company headquarters in Tokyo.

Tepco faces huge compensation and cleanup costs from the nuclear crisis, which led to widespread evacuations and massive radioactive fallout that greatly damaged the agriculture and fisheries industries in particular. The utility was nationalized in July after receiving a ¥1 trillion public bailout.

Hirose assumed the top post at Tepco in June with the task of turning around its business. He acknowledges that a resumption of Tepco's idled reactors would help, but gaining local support for that would be difficult.

"It is true that in order to be in healthy financial condition, nuclear power is helpful," he said, referring to Tepco's Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture, whose seven reactors remain idled for inspections and disaster stress tests. "But we do not have any specific schedule for a restart."

He said, however, Tepco would follow any energy mix the government decides as part of its electricity policy.

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