(GE article updated with additional commentary and information on nuclear industry players.)
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- General Electric (GE - Get Report) shares are sliding as GE-designed nuclear power reactors in Japan were damaged in Japan's massive earthquake and investor confidence in Japan's nuclear power future crumbles.
Shares of GE were falling 3.7% to $19.60, while its nuclear venture partner Hitachi (HIT) was plunging 15.4% to $50.04.
The unfolding nuclear crisis in Japan has called into question the nuclear energy policy of the U.S. and other nations, as policy makers balance safety issues with the need to develop alternative, clean sources of energy to reduce oil dependency.
Already, the Swiss government has suspended all plans to build and replace nuclear plants. Germany has suspended a plan to extend the lives of Germany's 17 nuclear plants. The government has said it will conduct an extensive review of the plans' safety and the country's atomic energy policy.German environmental minister Norbert Roettgen said over the weekend that the government will look to accelerate the use of alternative energies. Alternative energy and natural gas sectors were surging on Monday in anticipation of stronger demand. First Solar (FSLR) was popping 4.8% to $146.49, Trina Solar (TSL) was surging 9.1% to $26.45, Yingli Green Energy (YGE) was gaining 8.8% to $11.43 and Suntech Power (STP) was advancing 5.1% to $8.45. Chesapeake Energy (CHK) was up 2.8% to $33.74. In the U.S., shares of the largest nuclear reactor operators Exelon (EXC - Get Report) and Entergy (ETR - Get Report) were losing 2.5% and 5.5% respectively.