April 27, 2011 / 7:54 AM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 1-Kansai may delay restart of 3 nuclear reactors

* Restart of Mihama, Ohi, Takahama reactors may be delayed

* Stricter safety steps behind lower run rate, possible restart delay

* Kansai forecasts net profit to fall 19 pct in 2011/12 (Adds background)

TOKYO, April 27 (Reuters) - Kansai Electric Power Co said its nuclear run rate this year would be lower than initially planned, and it may delay the restart of three reactors due to stricter safety steps imposed after a massive earthquake triggered the world’s worst nuclear crisis in 25 years.

The March 11 earthquake and tsunami severely damaged Tokyo Electric’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and caused it to leak radiation, prompting the trade ministry to require nuclear operators to take stricter safety measures.

Kansai, Japan’s second-biggest utility, said it expects its nuclear plant run rate to average about 80 percent in the year that started on April 1. That would be up from 78.2 percent last year, but below its original target of 82.2 percent.

However, the company said its actual nuclear run rate in 2011/12 might even undershoot its new plan.

Kansai said the restart of three nuclear reactors currently shut for regular maintenance may be delayed because it needs to improve its emergency preparedness.

The three are the No.1 340-megawatt Mihama reactor, the No. 3 1,180-MW Ohi reactor and the No.1 826-MW reactor in Takahama.

The Osaka-based company has 11 reactors at three nuclear plants with total capacity of 9,768 megawatts, 20 percent of Japan’s total. Nuclear power accounted for 45 percent of the firm’s total electricity generated in 2009/10.

Under the new safety requirements, utilities must deploy back-up mobile power generators and fire trucks able to pump water, while beefing up their training programmes.

Kansai also said it planned to boost investment in nuclear operations by 40 billion yen ($490 million) in the next two business years.

Kansai also announced its earnings results and guidance on Wednesday. It expects net profit to fall 19 percent to 100 billion yen in the year to March 2012, after a 3 percent decline in the year just ended. [ID:nT278O376F] ($1 = 81.515 Japanese Yen) (Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Chris Gallagher)

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