July 31, 2015 / 10:06 AM / 2 years ago

Japan's Kyushu Electric aims to restart first reactor Aug 10

An employee of Kyushu Electric Power Co. (R) speaks to reporters inside the No.1 reactor building where fuel rods are being inserted into a reactor vessel at Sendai nuclear power station in Satsumasendai, Kagoshima prefecture, Japan, July 8, 2015. REUTERS/Issei Kato

TOKYO (Reuters) - Kyushu Electric Power Co said on Friday it planned to begin starting up a reactor on Aug. 10, the first attempt to reboot Japan’s nuclear industry in nearly two years after the sector was shut down in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has been pushing to bring some reactors back online, arguing they are key to economic growth.

But opinion polls show a consistent majority oppose restarts, even though power bills have risen as utilities resort to expensive fossil fuels to generate power.

Kyushu, the monopoly supplier on the southwestern island of the same name, says starting the No. 1 reactor at its Sendai nuclear station would help it reduce costs incurred from burning fossil fuels by about $60 million a month.

The 890-megawatt reactor will take about 12 hours to go critical after the start-up begins, with power output to start in two or three days, a spokeswoman said.

After it reaches full power in about 10 days from restart, regulators will make final checks before it starts commercial operations in September.

On Friday Kyushu said it made a profit in the three months through June 30, after four years of annual losses.

The closure of the reactors has caused tens of billions of dollars in losses at utilities as they resorted to importing more fossil fuel for power generation and paid for upgrades to meet tightened safety rules.

Kyushu also aims to have its 890-megawatt No. 2 reactor running by mid-October. It said earlier that with both reactors operating, it would save about 15 billion yen ($121 million) in fuel costs per month, mainly by using less oil and LNG.

Kyushu Electric shares closed 3.29 percent higher on Friday.

Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Writing by Aaron Sheldrick; Editing by Alan Raybould

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