Global Energy News Roundup: May 24


This week’s global energy news roundup features articles and information from a range of sources, including Japan Daily Press, Daily Yomiuri; a statement from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission; Japan Atomic Industrial Forum’s Atoms in Japan newsletter; and a Westinghouse news release. Headlines in this roundup include “Government Increases Ownership Control of TEPCO”; “Approval to Restart Reactors Still Elusive”; “NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko to Resign”; “TEPCO Starts Process for Removing Spent Fuel”; and “More Companies Join the Westinghouse SMR Team.” The Forum on Energy weekly news roundup brings together a mix of global energy stories from around the web. It is published every Thursday morning on forumonenergy.com and is available on Twitter via @forumonenergy.

Government Increases Ownership Control of TEPCO
As part of the government bailout plan to help keep Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) from going under, the Japanese government agreed to infuse 1 trillion yen ($12.5 billion) into the company. In exchange, the government would control just over 50 percent of voting shares, while also taking over the company’s financial and management restructuring. This plan has since changed. The Japan Daily Press reported Monday that the government will increase its controlling share to 76 percent. The government bailout helped TEPCO with recovery efforts in the wake of Fukushima.
Source: Japan Daily Press

Approval to Restart Reactors Still Elusive
The Japanese central government continues to meet resistance in its efforts to convince regional leaders to approve the restart of the Ohi reactors 3 and 4. The Daily Yomiuri reports that government officials failed to win consensus during a meeting this past weekend. Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto said he first wants to see the new nuclear regulatory agency’s safety standards — but the new safety agency has not yet been created. The Kansai region is expected to suffer from a summer power shortage if the plants are not restarted. Not everyone is opposed to restart, however. On May 14, the Ohi Town Assembly voted in favor of allowing the Ohi reactors to be restarted (see original Reuters article).
Source: Daily Yomiuri

NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko to Resign (PDF)
Dr. Gregory Jaczko is stepping down as head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). “After an incredibly productive three years as Chairman, I have decided this is the appropriate time to continue my efforts to ensure public safety in a different forum,” said Jaczko in a released statement. Jaczko cited among his accomplishments the past year’s efforts that included initiating a review of plant safety and integrity in light of the accident at Fukushima.

Jaczko’s announcement generated many responses on Capitol Hill. Congressional Republicans described his resignation as a positive development in light of controversies over his leadership style, while Democratic members praised Jaczko’s leadership for demanding a high level of safety and accountability, according to a roundup of responses by the ANS Nuclear Cafe blog.
Source: U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission statement (PDF)

TEPCO Starts Process for Removing Spent Fuel (PDF)
Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has begun to install a cover over Fukushima Daiichi unit 4 in preparation to begin removing spent fuel. According to Japan Atomic Industrial Forum’s Atoms in Japan newsletter, placing the cover over the reactor is the first step in the removal of fuel rods from the spent fuel pools. Once the cover is fitted, the ground will be reinforced and the unit will be protected from outside elements.
Source: Japan Atomic Industrial Forum’s Atoms in Japan newsletter (PDF)

More Companies Join the Westinghouse SMR Team
The NextStar Small Modular Reactor (SMR) alliance, a consortium of companies vying for U.S. Department of Energy funding for SMR development, just added more members to its team.  Westinghouse recently announced that Burns and McDonnell, and Electric Boat have joined the team. Burns and McDonnell is a Missouri-based engineering firm that will contribute architectural and engineering support. Electric Boat, which has 60 years of expertise designing and building nuclear-powered submarines, will help with creating an efficient modular design.

Utilities Ameren Missouri, Exelon, Dominion Power, First Energy, Tampa Electric, Arkansas Electric Cooperative, Empire District Electric, and Kansas City Power and Light are also part of the NextStar consortium. NuScale, another consortium that includes South Carolina Gas and Electric, is also hoping to obtain Department of Energy funding for its SMR development project.
Source: Westinghouse news release

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