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GE Vice Chairman Sees Nuclear Sector Delays After Japan Crisis

By Bob Sechler Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES The head of General Electric Co.'s (GE) energy business said Wednesday that he is optimistic on the long-term outlook for the nuclear-energy sector despite an obvious slowdown in the wake of the disaster in Japan. "There's going to be delays, because there is going to be lots of learning based on what happened," said GE Vice Chairman John Krenicki Jr. in an interview. Krenicki also said he expects nuclear power to be more expensive when the industry regains its footing "because there's going to be more redundancies in place" stemming from what are likely to be new regulatory requirements. GE competitor Siemens AG (SI) is considering whether to abandon its goal of becoming a major player in the atomic-power industry, several unconfirmed news reports have said in recent months. Siemens Chief Financial Officer Joe Kaeser fueled the speculation in April, when he told Germany's Der Tagesspiegel newspaper that "Fukushima has to be an occasion for taking stock [of nuclear energy]," referring to the nuclear accident in Japan. But Krenicki said Wednesday that GE takes a "decades-long" view of the nuclear sector and remains committed to it, adding that nations such as China and India "are going to continue to move forward" with nuclear power. "We view nuclear as a marathon," Krenicki said. GE runs its nuclear business through a joint venture with Hitachi Ltd. (HIT, 6501.TO). GE had a big role in designing and building some of the reactors at the heart of the Japan crisis earlier this year. Krenicki said GE has seen little tangible impact on its nuclear operations in the wake of the disaster, aside from a downturn for its nuclear-fuel business in Japan. -By Bob Sechler; Dow Jones Newswires; 512-258-1690; bob.sechler@dowjones.com

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