GE CEO says will help Japan nuclear plant operator supply power
TOKYO (Reuters) - General Electric Co <GE.N>, which helped build the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant damaged by Japan's earthquake and tsunami, will help the plant's operator supply electricity in the coming summer when power demand soars.
GE chief executive Jeff Immelt, on a visit to Japan, met with officials at Tokyo Electric Power Co Ltd <9501.T> about the crippled Fukushima plant, site of the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.
"Immelt said GE would cooperate with TEPCO on restarting and strengthening its thermal power generation in anticipation of the rise in power demand for the summer," a TEPCO official told a webcast news briefing.
"As one of the manufacturers (of the reactors), he wanted to say GE wants to provide ideas to help resolve the situation," said the official from Japan's biggest utility.
Power demand soars in Japan in summer due to heavy usage of air-conditioners in the heavily populated cities.
The government has said it will restrict maximum power usage by companies during the hotter months in an effort to try and avoid further blackouts, which have already impacted on production and supply chains in Japan and seen a drop in manufacturing output.
The magnitude 9.0 quake and tsunami on March 11 saw TEPCO lose 23 percent of its power capacity. For the first time in its 60-year history, the company has imposed rolling power blackouts to most of the areas it covers.
The TEPCO official could not provide any more details on how GE would help ensure supply electricity, or what other assistance was offered by Immelt, who met with TEPCO Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata and Vice President Sakae Muto.
TEPCO has predicted power shortages during the peak summer period though by then it will have restarted most thermal units shut due to the earthquake and mothballed units as well.
GE wholly built one of the six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. It built two others jointly with Toshiba Corp <6502.T>. Toshiba built two on its own and Hitachi Ltd <9501.T> built one.
(Reporting by Chizu Nomiyama; Editing by Michael Perry)