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Japanese minister: US utilities should not expect help in Westinghouse situation

U.S. utilities should not expect the Japanese government to provide assistance to settle issues between them and newly bankrupt nuclear contractor Westinghouse Electric Co. LLC, according comments made by a Japanese government official.

Southern Co. Chairman and CEO Thomas Fanning, whose Georgia-based utility has been building two new nuclear reactors with Westinghouse, recently made a statement in Tokyo that he would seek regulatory and financial help from the Japanese government, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

SNL Image

Construction continues on units 3 and 4 at the Vogtle nuclear plant.

Source: Georgia Power Co.

The bankruptcy filing by Westinghouse has cast a shadow over the future of U.S. nuclear projects.

Fanning suggested that "as a good partner" he expected cash-strapped Toshiba Corp. and Westinghouse to follow through on commitments to support the continued construction of Georgia Power Co.'s two-unit expansion at the Alvin W. Vogtle Nuclear Plant nuclear plant. The commitments, Fanning said, were more than financial and operational, but also "moral."

Japan's minister of economy, trade and industry, Hiroshige Seko, however, said March 31 the government does not expect to provide assistance. "The issues related to Toshiba are for the managers of individual companies to discuss," Seko said.

He added that it was "hard to think" that the issue would be discussed during upcoming economic talks between Vice President Mike Pence and Japan's deputy prime minister and finance minister.

Westinghouse is also involved in the construction of two units at the V.C. Summer nuclear plant in South Carolina, which are being built by SCANA Corp. utility South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. and the state government-owned utility Santee Cooper, legally known as the South Carolina Public Service Authority.