(c) 2013, Bloomberg News.

(c) 2013, Bloomberg News.

TOKYO Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power station, had an operating profit in the first half on efforts to cut costs and boost revenues through higher electricity rates.

The operating profit was 167.2 billion yen ($1.70 billion) for the six months ended Sept. 30, compared with an operating loss of 104.6 billion yen a year ago, according to a statement Thursday from the company known as Tepco. Net income was 616.22 billion yen after a government injection into the utility's fund for payouts to people and companies affected by the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Cost-reduction efforts, including labor costs, and higher sales because of an increase in rates, contributed to the return to an operating profit.

Japan's biggest regional utility by capacity nearly quadrupled coal consumption last month to 711,000 tons from a year earlier, reducing its dependence on more costly oil and liquefied natural gas for power generation.

Japan's utilities have increased their reliance on fossil fuel imports since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami caused meltdowns at Tepco's Fukushima atomic plant, prompting safety checks that have idled the county's nuclear fleet.

Tepco submitted documents last month seeking safety checks on two reactors at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata prefecture, a step toward restarting the power station that was idled for maintenance in March 2012.

The utility, which has 29 million customers in metropolitan Tokyo, had said the plant's restart was key to its return to profitability. Tepco provided no full-year forecasts.

_ With assistance from Masumi Suga in Tokyo.

bc-tepco