Businesses and the public should expect to be asked to redouble their efforts to save electricity this summer as seven of nine electric utilities surveyed will likely fail to meet peak-time power demand due to the shutdown of their nuclear reactors.
A survey by The Asahi Shimbun found that the seven utilities expect their peak-time power supply to be short of anticipated peak demand or to have little surplus.
The utilities' estimates are based on the assumption that their reactors that have been shut down will not reopen this summer.
To ensure a stable power supply, utilities need to have a surplus of at least 8 percent more than projected peak-power demand. Seven utilities predict they will not be able to meet that requirement. Hokkaido Electric Power Co. and Chugoku Electric Power Co. expect to meet the 8 percent surplus.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. and Tohoku Electric Power Co., both of which were greatly affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake, predict a shortage of 10. 3 percent and 7.4 percent below peak demand, respectively, when computed from peak demand last summer.
Kansai Electric Power Co. expects a 3.3 percent shortfall, although the economy ministry gave a bleaker estimate: It expects Kansai Electric to fall 6.4 percent below peak demand.
Kyushu Electric Power Co. said it will have a surplus of 3.5 percent, but the ministry said Kyushu Electric's surplus will likely be just 1.6 percent.
The projected shortage is blamed on the continued suspension of nuclear reactors that were shut down for regular checks.
The reopening of reactors has become increasingly difficult amid heightened safety concerns among local governments after the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
Kansai Electric's four reactors in Fukui Prefecture have been unable to reopen due to repeated safety checks.
This comes after the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency cleared Kansai's reactors following inspections to determine if they were equipped to deal with a devastating natural disaster.
Kansai Electric's two other reactors in the prefecture are scheduled to be shut down for checks in late July.
Chubu Electric Power Co. put all its reactors offline at its Hamaoka plant in Shizuoka Prefecture at the request of Prime Minister Naoto Kan last month.
The Hamaoka plant is widely seen as the most vulnerable plant in Japan because it sits in an area containing many geological fault lines.
Japan had 54 commercial nuclear reactors, including those at the Fukushima plant, supplying nearly 30 percent of the country's overall electricity output before the March 11 disaster.
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