Tokyo, December 8, 2011 — The government of Japan may decide to bail out the embattled Tokyo Electric Power Co. in mid-2012 as part of a plan to save the operator of the now-notorious Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Newspapers have reported that TEPCO could lose its independence in the process, should the plan to inject $13 billion into the utility’s coffers move forward.
The disaster at Fukushima has become the world’s worst nuclear crisis in 25 years, leaving plant operator TEPCO saddled with clean-up costs and public compensation responsibilities.
The scale of the public bailout is still uncertain, but the utility may also seek bank loans to help it stay afloat, according to reports.
The bailout plan has some support amongst Japan‘s ruling party, and TEPCO President Toshio Nishizawa said a public bailout plan cannot be ruled out as a possibility.
The Fukushima plant is preparing to declare a cold shutdown as soon as the water used to cool the reactor is stable and consistently below boiling point. Taking the plant’s four reactors out of service will likely cost the utility $15.4 billion.