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UPDATE 1-Japan nuclear plant rate rise spreads to April

TOKYO, May 10 (Reuters) - Japan's nuclear power rate ticked up to 66.9 percent in April, its eighth month in a row of year-on-year gains, as the Asian nation continues to increase its dependence on the power source. The nuclear power plant utilisation rate last month at Japan's 10 nuclear power companies was 8.3 percent higher than a year ago, data from the nation's trade ministry showed on Monday, and 0.9 percentage points higher than March. Nuclear power use in Japan has been helped by two units at Tokyo Electric Power Co's (TEPCO) Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant resuming commercial operations around the start of the calendar year. A major earthquake in northern Japan in 2007 forced TEPCO to shut the entire nuclear complex, the world's largest. Higher nuclear plant utilisation has helped several Japanese utilities curb thermal fuel consumption, especially the use of costly fuel oil and direct-burning crudes. In March, total oil use by Japanese utilities was nearly a third less than it was the previous year. The Federation of Electric Power Companies is scheduled to release April power output and fuel consumption statistics on May 14. Japan has 54 nuclear power generators for commercial use, with a total generating capacity of 48,847 megawatts, the world's third-biggest nuclear generation capacity after the United States and France. The following is a list of nuclear power generators and the nuclear power plant utilisation rate for April, with year-earlier figures in parentheses. APRIL Company Run rate (%) Hokkaido Electric Power Co 101.0 (102.7) Tohoku Electric Power Co 85.2 (47.7) Tokyo Electric Power Co 56.9 (33.3) Chubu Electric Power Co 64.3 (31.7) Hokuriku Electric Power Co 100.6 (79.4) Kansai Electric Power Co 66.3 (79.0) Chugoku Electric Power Co 0.0 (101.2) Shikoku Electric Power Co 102.5 (45.5) Kyushu Electric Power Co 73.9 (91.6) Japan Atomic Power Co 56.7 (89.0) (Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori and James Topham; Editing by Joseph Radford) ((osamu.tsukimori@thomsonreuters.com ; +813 6441 1857; Reuters Messaging: osamu.tsukimori.reuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: NUCLEAR JAPAN/UTILISATION Keywords: NUCLEAR JAPAN/UTILISATION (If you have a query or comment on this story, send an email to news.feedback.asia@thomsonreuters.com) COPYRIGHT Copyright Thomson Reuters 2010. All rights reserved.

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