Nikkei down, nuclear industry hit hard. Will STP’s expansion plans be affected?

Investors dumped Japanese shares Monday, sending the Nikkei down 6.2% amid concerns about a nuclear emergency in the country following Friday’s devastating earthquake and tsunami, with stocks of exporters and plant operators hardest hit.

Analysts say stocks were being largely driven by the quake-related news flow; while news of the devastating tsunami effects in northeastern Japan waned.  Fears spread amid the scramble to contain meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power’s (Tepco) troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant as investor attention remained riveted on the No. 1 and No. 3 reactors at the facility, which were damaged by the effects of the quake and tsunami. Selling accelerated in the afternoon following a new explosion at the No. 3 reactor, similar to the one that hit the No. 1 reactor on Saturday.

Tepco’s shares went largely untraded, closing down 24 percent. Goldman Sachs also lowered its rating on the stock to Neutral from Buy and cut its target price 13 percent.

Between Tepco and Tohoku Electric Power, some 15 nuclear power units are in questionable status.

Hitachi and Toshiba, which make nuclear power technology, both sank 16 percent.

Why is the economic news of these Japanese companies of interest to Texas?

Nuclear Innovation North America LLC (NINA), the nuclear development company jointly owned by NRG Energy, Inc. and Toshiba Corporation, are the major financial partners in the two new nuclear units at the South Texas Project (STP).  Last year they announced they had reached an agreement with Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), that owns the Fukushima Daiichi, to also partner in the STP expansion.

NINA was also counting on the Japanese government to provide loan guarantees to the project.  So, of the major financial investments in this Texas nuclear expansion, three are Japanese.  One can easily predict that both the Japanese government and Japan’s nuclear industry’s economic future are going to be tied up for the foreseeable future.  Given this, it would be mind-boggling if the U.S. Department of Energy approved a loan guarantee for STP’s expansion.