TOKYO , Dec. 25 -- ( Kyodo ) _ A state-backed fund said Wednesday it has agreed in principle on a new business turnaround plan for Tokyo Electric Power Co. , operator of the accident-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex. According to sources close to the matter, the plan is expected to highlight the need for the idled Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant to be restarted to reduce the heavy fuel costs entailed in boosting thermal power generation to compensate for the loss of atomic power following the 2011 Fukushima crisis. It is also expected to include the government's recent decision to provide more financial aid to the utility to make sure it will not face funding difficulties over the trillions of yen of compensation and other payments related to one of the world's worst nuclear crises. The Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund is expected to submit the plan to the government on Friday, with Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi likely to approve it in January. But there is no guarantee that the plan will put the company's business back on track, especially because it remains uncertain when the seven-reactor Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture will be able to resume operation. TEPCO President Naomi Hirose declined to comment on the content of the business plan, but he told reporters, "As the government has decided to take a step forward (in supporting us), we must move three or four steps ahead to carry out our responsibilities." The company effectively fell under state control in July last year as it received 1 trillion yen in capital from the fund in line with a comprehensive special business plan approved by the government. But the earlier plan had to be reworked, apparently because some of its key assumptions no longer held, such as resuming operation of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant from April. The new plan is expected to reflect the government's decision last Friday to raise the ceiling for interest-free loans that TEPCO is allowed to receive from the fund to 9 trillion yen from the present 5 trillion yen . TEPCO , with the help of other nuclear power plant operators, will continue to repay the loans it used for compensation purposes. But as for certain radiation cleanup costs outside the Fukushima plant, the government is eventually seeking to retrieve the money through gains earned by selling TEPCO shares that are currently owned by the fund. A total of 1.1 trillion yen to build and manage interim storage facilities for waste generated through decontamination in Fukushima Prefecture will also be paid from national coffers.
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